USDA secretary in Mississippi to discuss rural initiative

April 20, 2022 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Mississippi on Wednesday to announce a program meant to help rural communities get federal funding to create jobs, build infrastructure and improve their economies.

Vilsack and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice traveled to the Mississippi Delta cities of Clarksdale and Greenwood to discuss the USDA-led Rural Partners Network with community leaders.

The initiative, which is part of President Joe Biden’s push to improve infrastructure, will help groups in rural communities navigate federal programs and access resources and funding to strengthen their economies long-term, the USDA said in a news release.

Federal staff will be hired and placed in more than 25 rural communities in multiple U.S. states, Tribal Nations and territories, the USDA said. Staff will identify challenges preventing rural communities from getting federal support, the USDA said.

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The initiative is set to first launch in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and New Mexico. It is expected to expand later to Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Tribal communities in Alaska, the USDA said.

“The Rural Partners Network will help communities get funding for investments that create long-lasting benefits for their communities, especially those that have been overlooked in the past,” Vilsack said in a statement.