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Secretary Perdue Names NRCS Chief

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Matthew J. “Matt” Lohr to serve as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In his role, Lohr will provide leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.

“Matt has committed his entire life to the betterment of agriculture,” Perdue said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.”

Lohr, raised on a century farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, now owns and operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Lohr held public office, serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010. In 2008, Lohr was awarded Legislator of the Year in honor of his work as an ambassador for economic and community development in Virginia. He then served as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. More recently, Lohr worked as Knowledge Center Director for Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative that provides resources and education outreach to local farmers and the community. Since June 2017, he has been farming full-time on the family operation, which includes poultry, beef cattle, row crops, and sweet corn.

“I am honored and humbled to serve America’s agricultural industry in this new capacity,” Lohr said. “As a 5th generation farmer, I care deeply about conserving and protecting our most valuable agricultural resources. I look forward to the chance to lead this valuable agency and assist our producers nationwide with their conservation practices.”

NRCS, through voluntary natural resource conservation programs, works side-by-side with producers, local conservation districts, and other partners to protect and conserve natural resources and build sustainable farming solutions through soil conservation on private lands throughout the United States. For more information on NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Three Things to Know: USDA-FDA Announcement on Regulating Lab-Grown Fake Meat

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threw a wrench in the Friday evening plans of many fake meat watchers. Just after 4:30 pm, the agencies announced they had agreed on a framework for regulating lab-grown fake meat products.

Here are three things every cattle and beef producer should know about the recent announcement.

  1. USDA takes the primary. Under the announced framework, the USDA would have the primary role in ensuring that lab-grown fake meat is held to the same food safety and labeling standards as real beef. The FDA would be responsible for all things cellular, including collection of cell samples and cell growth. But oversight of labeling and “harvest” (when cells are turned into food products) would still rest with USDA.
  2. This is only the beginning. The announced framework is a positive step, but many more details need to be worked out before lab-grown fake meat products come to market. The USDA-FDA announcement is like a skeleton; now the federal agencies need to put (real) meat on the bones. To start, both agencies extended the public comment period on the regulation of lab-grown fake meat. Producers and consumers can make their voice heard by submitting comes in support of USDA oversight. Comments can be submitted here until December 26, 2018.
  3. The labeling question remains. The framework gave no indication of how lab-grown fake meat products will ultimately be labeled. (Considering lab-grown products are not even available for independent analysis, that is not surprising.) The good news is that under USDA oversight, the process will be based on sound science and the label will have to be approved before lab-grown products hit the market. NCBA policy explicitly supports “the definition of beef to only include products derived from actual livestock raised by cattle farmers and ranchers and harvested for human consumption.”

USDA Reminds Producers of Disaster Program Deadlines

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds Montana producers who experienced losses from natural disasters during the 2017 and 2018 calendar years that they may be eligible for assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP):

ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish who have suffered losses due to an adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards, disease, water shortages and wildfires. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs.

For 2017 and 2018 ELAP, producers must file a notice of loss and application for payment at their local FSA office by Dec. 3, 2018 for losses occurring from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2018.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP):

LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock owners or contract growers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality, or injury resulting in reduced value, caused by an eligible loss condition.

For 2017 and 2018 LIP, a livestock owner or contract grower must file a notice of loss the later of 30 calendar days from when the loss of livestock is first apparent, or Dec. 3, 2018.

For 2017 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by Dec. 3, 2018. A 2017 Notice of Loss must be on file with the local FSA office prior to filing a 2017 Application for Payment.

For 2018 losses, a livestock owner or contract grower must file an application for payment by, March 1, 2019. A 2018 Notice of Loss must be on file with the local FSA office prior to filing a 2018 Application for Payment.

Tree Assistance Program (TAP):

TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines lost due to natural disasters. Payment eligibility is triggered when a mortality loss in excess of 15 percent on a stand (adjusted for normal mortality) occurs due to natural disaster.

For 2017 and 2018 TAP losses growers have until the later of Dec. 3, 2018, or 90 calendar days after the disaster event or date when the loss of trees becomes apparent to submit an application with supporting documentation.

Other Amendments to the 2014 Farm Bill by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

In February, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made several changes to FSA disaster programs. This includes eliminating the $20 million fiscal year funding cap for ELAP, eliminating the $125,000 payment limitation for LIP for 2017 and future years and allowing producers to receive a payment under LIP for injured livestock that are sold for a reduced price due to an eligible event.

As a result of these changes, starting June 4, producers were allowed to submit ELAP, LIP and LFP applications for 2017 losses if they reached the payment limitation under the previous rules. The application periods for these programs for the 2017 program year will close on Dec. 3, 2018. Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their applications for these years do not need to file again but can reapply if they have additional losses or their application or notice of loss was denied because it was late filed.

Contact your local FSA office for program deadlines. For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs or to find your local USDA Service Center, visit https://www.farmers.gov/.

USDA and ONDCP Unveil Latest Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Epidemic

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Deputy Director Jim Carroll and U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a listing of Federal programs that can be used to build resilient communities and address opioid misuse in rural communities. The Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse (PDF, 1.7 MB) is a first-of-its-kind, one-stop-shop for rural leaders looking for Federal funding and partnership opportunities.

“Many rural communities in America have been especially hard hit by the opioid crisis,” said Deputy Director Carroll. “ONDCP and USDA partnered to create this guide to help them find the Federal resources that can help them respond.”

“Strong and healthy communities are a cornerstone for prosperity in rural America,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to empowering rural leaders with tools to better leverage state, local and private resources with federal investment.”

More than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids since 2000. President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a nationwide Public Health Emergency. For a rural community or county already struggling to attract new – or maintain existing – businesses, the impact of opioid misuse on the quality of life and economic prosperity can be enormous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in October 2017 that death rates from drug overdoses in rural areas have now surpassed drug overdose death rates in urban areas.

The Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse was developed by the Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group. In May 2018, the ONDCP stood up the Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group to help address the opioid crisis by improving coordination and reducing potential overlap among federal agencies responding to the crisis in the Nation’s rural communities.

The Working Group is co-chaired by ONDCP and USDA. The departments and agencies represented on the Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group include the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing, Justice, Labor, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The Rural Resource Guide to Help Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse is the second tool announced this month in USDA’s Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox – a suite of essential tools supporting grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic. Earlier this month, USDA launched the Community Assessment Tool, an interactive database to help community leaders assess how and why the opioid epidemic is impacting their regions. USDA’s Community Opioid Misuse Toolbox is free and available to the public. It can be accessed on USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse Webpage.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Source: USDA Press Release

Trump Administration Launches “Winning on Reducing Food Waste” Initiative

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the signing of a joint agency formal agreement under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative.  The agreement is aimed at improving coordination and communication across federal agencies attempting to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.  Signing the joint agency agreement were U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This figure, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010.  Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need.  Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes.  Effectively reducing food waste will require cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, communities, and the entire supply chain.

While there have been significant actions taken and commitments made through public-private partnerships to date, such as the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions initiative, which aims to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030, there is still much work to be done.  The Trump Administration commends the 23 organizations and businesses which have joined the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, including the three most recent companies – Kroger, Hilton, and MGM Resorts International– which joined today.  There are tremendous economic opportunities and possible cost savings for businesses and individual households that can result from reducing food waste. And while businesses are a critical component of food waste reductions, consumer education is also key to the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative.

“An unacceptable percentage of our food supply is lost or wasted,” said Secretary Perdue.  “As the world’s population continues to grow and the food systems continue to evolve, now is the time for action to educate consumers and businesses alike on the need for food waste reduction.  I am pleased to be joined by my Trump Administration colleagues on this important, common sense issue.  The future of food depends on action from us now, which is why we have established this formal partnership among USDA, EPA, and FDA.”

“EPA is proud to partner with USDA and FDA to enhance food recovery efforts and educate the public on the need for improved food waste management,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.“Redirecting excess food to people, animals, or energy production has tremendous economic and social benefits, and that is why the Trump Administration is working closely with businesses and consumers to prevent food loss and maximize the inherent value of food.”

“Sadly, each day too many American families struggle to meet their nutritional needs and we at the FDA recognize the important role that reducing food waste can play in filling this critical gap,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “By taking steps to address obstacles that food donation and recovery programs may face in giving unsold foods a second opportunity and helping food producers find ways to recondition their products so that they can be safely sold or donated, our aim is to both reduce food waste and nourish Americans in need. We are delighted to be collaborating with our federal partners on the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative as we continue to explore additional ways to reduce food waste and make safe, nutritional foods available to all.”

This joint announcement was unveiled at the USDA’s headquarters and was followed by a panel discussion on fostering change to reduce food waste in the U.S. The panel moderated by Barry Breen, Acting Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management.

Speakers included:

  • Mace Thornton, Executive Director of Communications, American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Jeanne Blankenship, Vice President of Policy Initiatives and Advocacy, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Dan Abrams, Director, Campus Kitchens Project, DC Central Kitchen
  • Melissa Terry, Food Policy Researcher, University of Arkansas

The agencies collectively look forward to hearing feedback from stakeholders about how they can work together at the federal level and leverage partners throughout the supply chain to have national impact on reducing food loss and waste in the long term.

For more information on USDA’s efforts to combat food waste and loss, click here.

For more information on how to become a U.S Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion, click here.

Source: USDA Press Release

USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to invest in rural America with more than $4.8 billion in payments being made, starting this month, to agricultural producers through the Farm Service Agency’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Conservation Reserve (CRP) programs. Approximately $3 billion in payments will be made under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2017 crop year, and approximately $1.8 billion in annual rental payments under CRP for 2018.

“Despite a temporary lapse of Farm Bill authorities, farmers and ranchers can rest assured that USDA continues to work within the letter of the law to deliver much-needed farm safety net, conservation, disaster recovery, and trade assistance program payments,” said Perdue.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and make up a portion of the agricultural safety net to producers when they experience a substantial drop in revenue or prices for their covered commodities.

“These program payments are mandated by Congress, but the Department has taken measures to ensure we meet our deadlines and get capital in the hands of those folks that need it most. Unfortunately, 2018 has proven to be another tough year for producers across the Nation, making the timeliness even more critical. Our resilient farmers, ranchers, and producers are battling more hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods, and even lava flows,” said Perdue.

PLC payments have triggered for 2017 barley, canola, corn, grain sorghum, wheat, and other crops. In the next few months, payments will be triggered for rice, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, crambe, and sesame seed. Producers with bases enrolled in ARC for 2017 crops can visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc for updated crop yields, prices, revenue, and payment rates. The estimated payments are before application of sequestration and other reductions and limits, including adjusted gross income limits and payment limitations.

Also, this week, USDA will begin issuing 2018 CRP payments to over 362,000 landowners to support voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. “CRP has long been a useful tool for the Department to encourage farmers to take that environmentally-sensitive, more unproductive land, out of production and build-up their natural resource base. These CRP payments are meant to help encourage land stewardship and help support an operation’s bottom line,” said Perdue.

Source: USDA

Secretary Perdue Announces Vicki Christiansen as New Forest Service Chief

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that Vicki Christiansen will serve as the 19th Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service. Christiansen has been serving as Interim Chief since March of this year. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“As a former wildland firefighter and fire manager, Chief Christiansen knows what’s needed to restore our forests and put them back to work for the taxpayers. With seven years at the Forest Service and 30 years with the states of Arizona and Washington, Vicki’s professional experience makes me confident that she will thrive in this role and hit the ground running.”

Tomorrow, Secretary Perdue will swear-in Christiansen as Chief in the Sidney Yates Building in Washington, D.C.

Vicki Christiansen Background:

Vicki Christiansen has been serving as the interim Chief at the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in Washington, DC. Prior to that she was Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry where she had oversight of Fire and Aviation Management, Tribal Relations, Forest Health Protection, Cooperative Forestry, Grey Towers and Conservation Education. She joined the Forest Service in 2010 as the Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation Management. Vicki has worked extensively on the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy bringing her experience as a line officer, land manager, wildland firefighter and State Forester to the effort.

Prior to joining the Forest Service, she served as the Arizona State Forester and Director of the Arizona Division of Forestry. She was responsible for the protection of 22 million acres of state and private lands in Arizona, including wildland fire management. As State Forester, Vicki represented Arizona at the national and state level on forest health and wildland fire issues. She was Chair of the Wildland Fire Committee for the National Association of State Foresters.

Vicki also served as the Washington State Forester where she had a 26-year career with Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). She started as a wildland firefighter while still in college and held many different positions at Washington DNR with a strong emphasis in operations, managing state trust lands and regulating forest practices on state and private lands in Washington State. Her first permanent position was as a forester responsible for the reforestation of state trust lands in the Mt. Saint Helens blast zone. Vicki has been a wildland firefighter and fire manager for 36 years. She has numerous credentials in the wildland fire program with a special expertise as a fire line-blasting advisor. Vicki has a B.S. in Forest Management from the University of Washington (1983, cum laude). She is married to a Fire Chief (retired) and has two grown sons.

USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

New Community Assessment Tool Empowers Rural Leaders to Make Data-Driven Decisions to Build Resilient Communities

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural America in addressing this monumental challenge,” Hazlett said. “Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The opioid misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level.

The Community Assessment Tool is free and available to the public. It can be accessed on USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse Webpageor at opioidmisusetool.norc.org.

USDA’s launch of the Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017; 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. The severity of the current opioid misuse crisis requires immediate action.

Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business and policy decisions. Today, government, corporate and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including health care quality and public health systems.

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.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

 

Source: USDA

USDA Details Trade Damage Estimate Calculations

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week released a detailed accounting of how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculated estimated damage from trade disruptions.  USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist developed an estimate of gross trade damages for commodities with assessed retaliatory tariffs by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico, and Turkey to set commodity payment rates and purchase levels in the trade mitigation package announced by USDA on September 4, 2018.  USDA employed the same approach often used in adjudicating World Trade Organization trade dispute cases.

“We have pledged to be transparent about this process and how our economists arrived at the numbers they did,” Perdue said.  “Our farmers and ranchers work hard to feed the United States and the world, and they need to know that USDA was thorough, methodical, and as accurate as possible in making these estimates.  It was a large and important task, and I thank Chief Economist Robert Johansson and his staff for their hard work.”

The full description of the Trade Damage Estimation for the Market Facilitation Program and Food Purchase and Distribution Program is available on the website of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist.

 

USDA to Implement Regulatory Reforms to Increase Access to Capital in Rural Areas

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is hosting listening sessions to solicit feedback on a plan to increase access to capital in rural areas by streamlining regulations for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs.

“At USDA, we know that for many rural communities the regulations that govern our programs can be outdated and difficult to navigate,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to simplifying our regulations and streamlining our program resources so we can be a better partner to rural leaders in building prosperity.”

The changes will simplify the application process for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs that provide funding to start, improve and expand businesses and build critical infrastructure. They also will incorporate modern lending practices, accelerate the loan approval processes and increase the amount of capital available in rural communities. The programs are the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, the Water and Waste Disposal Guaranteed Loan Program, the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Energy for America Program.

The Rural Development Innovation Center is hosting listening sessions this month to solicit comments on the reforms.

Listening sessions will be held:

  • Sept. 10 in Denver from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MDT at the Denver Federal Center. To attend virtually, visit:  Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 10 in Lexington, Ky., from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT at the USDA Rural Development State Office. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 12 in Lake Ozark, Mo., from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT at the Lodge of Four Seasons. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 14 in East Stroudsburg, Pa., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at East Stroudsburg University. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 19 (virtually only, focus on Tribal areas) from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. To attend, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at USDA Whitten Building, Room 107-A. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

 

For more information, please see page 45091 of the Sept. 5 Federal Register.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, 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.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.