The USDA said it has begun accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help rural residents get access to high-speed internet.
The announcement comes shortly after the recently approved Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked another $2 billion in additional funding for the ReConnect Program.
“High-speed internet is the new electricity,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It must be reliable, affordable, and available to everyone.”
He also said the funding that USDA is making available should go a long way toward making rural broadband much more accessible.
“Expanding broadband availability in rural areas will help to create jobs, help farmers use precision ag technologies, expand access to education and healthcare in rural communities, and create economic opportunity for millions of rural residents,” Vilsack added.
USDA said it will issue a new Notice of Funding Opportunity to make the additional funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available in 2022. The $1.15 billion in ReConnect funding is available immediately.