According to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Americans in rural communities, like some of the farmers and ranchers in New Mexico, are often denied access to new technology simply because they do not have a reliable internet connection. In a recent letter to the state’s farm community, Perdue said businesses in rural New Mexico are losing out on access to new markets through e-commerce.
USDA has nearly $1.1 billion available in new loans, grants and loan/grant combinations to deploy this critical infrastructure. Congress appropriated $100 million of that in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Trump. “The demand for these critical resources is tremendous,” Perdue said. “When we closed the second-round application window on April 15, we had 172 applications across 41 states and Puerto Rico totaling $1.57 billion.”
The first round of recipients includes Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative. The service area includes 789 households and three critical community facilities spread over 4,292 square miles in Lincoln, Otero, Chaves and Eddy counties. As they continue to announce the first round of recipients, he said the USDA will look for ways they can be better partners with community leaders, like Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative, in rural communities across the country.
“Having a high-speed internet connection means America’s employers – both big and small – can keep payrolls running,” Perdue said, “and American workers can continue to do their jobs from home. Rural America and the people who call it home should have these opportunities to continue with life’s obligations just as America’s urban and suburban communities do.”