Turning on a light, running water from a faucet, or calling a friend are activities that most of us take for granted. Rural utility providers are the lifeblood in their communities offering services important in our everyday lives and in supporting rural industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides support to expand and modernize these services.
Recently, Acting USDA Rural Utilities Administrator John Padalino visited North Dakota to host a meeting, which focused on creating partnerships that benefit the future of rural America. Key players in this conversation were the water, electric, and telecom providers. Padalino noted that without basic infrastructure, we would have no support for our rural economies, which are critical to the success of our nation. All of us depend on rural America for our food, water, and energy.
As the importance of the rural economy remains high, the population is on a decline. Padalino urged meeting participants to be proactive and share stories of the important work they do.
Utility providers in North Dakota not only offer reliable and modernized services, but have been re-investing in the rural communities they serve. Through the Rural Economic Development program, electric cooperatives in North Dakota have helped build a child care center, expand a farm equipment dealership, and construct an emergency services center. Through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, telecom companies have provided schools with greater educational opportunities and hospitals a higher quality care. All of these projects help to attract and retain a rural workforce.
While Congress works to pass a Farm Bill, Padalino said it is critical to be engaged in the process as it supports the efforts of folks in rural America. Many people nationwide do not understand the importance of this legislation, but we can all help change that!
Earlier today, USDA announced Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant awards to support jobs in 11 states. For more information click here. To learn more about USDA’s Rural Development programs, click here.