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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said a new package of loans and grants is meant to help build wealth outside of cities and suburbs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced $1.4 billion in grants and loans to businesses and other entities in rural areas that he said have been hurt by the nation’s “extraction economy.”
“Resources are taken from rural lands only to create jobs and economic opportunity in urban and suburban areas,” he said. Vilsack said the department instead wants to support “a circular economy, where value is added closer to home, so the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas.”
The 751 grants and loans in 49 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, he said, are intended to bolster businesses in rural areas that have often been historically neglected from receiving federal help. The awards are being made through eight rural economic development programs, including Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, and a related CARES Act Program.
“It’s a good day for rural America and the rural economy,” Vilsack told reporters.
Among the awards are:
- A $250,000 grant to Rolland Ranch Beef in Oklahoma to increase processing, marketing and delivery of Native American-produced beef to area consumers, schools and the Chickasaw Nation.
- A $300,000 grant from the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program to the Pella Cooperative Electric Association in Iowa to help build a women’s housing and health-care facility.
- A $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant to the Democracy at Work Institute in California to provide technical assistance to worker-owned cooperative groups, which will create 17 jobs and save another 41 in rural California, Alaska and South Dakota.
- A $33,530 Value-Added Producer Grant to veteran-owned Diparma Farms in Maryland to expand its free-range poultry operations.
- An $8,701 Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program grant to Native360 Loan Fund Inc. in Nebraska to provide training and technical assistance to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises.
A full list of the grants and loans awarded can be found here.
Kery Murakami is a senior reporter for Route Fifty based in Washington, D.C.