Earlier this week it was announced that $60.9 million was being invested to bring Broadband to rural Missourians, according to a press release from Lindsay Cheek, public information officer
For Rural Development with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced USDA has invested $60.9 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure that will create or improve e-Connectivity for more than 11,000 rural households, 81 farms, 73 businesses, 16 educational facilities, 12 critical community facilities and two health care facilities in rural Missouri, including two in the surrounding area.
“High-speed broadband internet connectivity, or e-Connectivity, is essential today to run a successful business or agricultural operation, access specialized health care or education, and connect with loved ones living far away,” LaVoy said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA has made the deployment of this critical infrastructure in rural America a top priority, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
LaVoy announced there are five projects throughout the state, including several local projects.
Mid-States Services LLC will use a $3 million loan to provide unserved and underserved members in and around Trenton with Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband services. This investment is expected to reach 566 households, a highway patrol office and an elementary school.
Green Hills Telephone Corporation will use a $2.6 million grant to expand its Fiber-to- the-Premises (FTTP) network to rural areas in Caldwell and Livingston counties. According to Cheek, this investment is expected to reach 20 pre-subscribed farms, 20 pre-subscribed businesses, 546 households, a fire protection district and two educational facilities.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.