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USDA to spend $400 million to expand rural broadband

A man in a suit, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is in the center of the image. He’s shaking hands with a worker of an internet provider outside of the company’s building.
Kaleb Roedel
Mountain West News Bureau
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack shakes hands with employees at internet provider Uprise in Reno, Nev., on July 28, 2022.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making a major investment to expand high-speed internet access in rural areas, including parts of the Mountain West.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the department is investing more than $400 million to provide broadband service to rural residents, businesses and tribal communities in 11 states.

Vilsack spoke Thursday in Reno, Nevada, at the headquarters of internet provider Uprise. The company is getting $27 million in grants to launch a network that connects the people, farms and schools in Pershing County, Nevada.

“There are a significant number – millions of Americans – who are living, working and raising their families in rural and remote areas that do not have access to the telemedicine and distance learning and the economic development opportunities and the public safety opportunities that other folks in this country have,” Vilsack said.

In the Mountain West, the funding will also launch high-speed internet across remote areas of Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Arizona.

The Agriculture Department plans more spending on rural broadband projects later this summer. That includes funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is providing $65 billion to expand affordable broadband across the U.S.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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