- SPECIAL REPORT -
USDA Delivers Stimulus Funds
“President Obama responded extraordinarily to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and his efforts and that of the USDA will have a significant impact not only in rural communities but in communities across the country struggling with today’s tough economic times,” says Vilsack. “Implementation of programs in the act will help stimulate local economies and create jobs, as well as protect and restore the environment.”
Funding will help rebuild and revitalize rural communities, as well as help stimulate local economies and create jobs throughout the country.
Specifically, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use immediately $145 million of the $173 million provided in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program, which will give 2,042 farmers – almost 50 percent are beginning farmers, and 10 percent are socially disadvantaged producers – direct loans from the agency.
Direct Help In Rural Areas
USDA Rural Development Agency will initially provide nearly 10,000 rural families with $14.9 million ($1.17 billion in loan guarantees) for homeownership financing, creating or saving more than 5,000 jobs.
USDA Rural Development will also release funding for more than $400 million in pending applications for Water and Waste grants and $140 million in pending applications for Water and Waste Direct Loans. Rural Development expects nearly 13,000 jobs will be created by 400 water and wastewater projects.
The Forest Service has released almost $100 million of the $1.15 billion for projects in the Recovery Act. The stimulus funding will be used for hazardous fuels reduction, forest health protection, rehabilitation and hazard mitigation activities on federal, state and private lands.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will release up to $145 million provided in the Recovery Act to re-store frequently flooded land to its natural state; create employment in rural communities na-tionwide when landowners establish these floodplain easements; as well as restore and protect an estimated 60,000 acres of flood-prone lands nationwide through the floodplain easement component of its Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
The Recovery Act provides a 13.6 percent increase in the monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit for recipients, or roughly $80 per family per month. The SNAP program currently serves over 31 million people each month, and the influx of funding not only will help those struggling during tough economic times but stimulate local economies.
Assistance For Indian Groups
An additional $5 million in funding is provided for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for facility improvements and equipment upgrades. This is in addition to the over $114 million spent on food distribution on Indian reservations this year.
This program provides a vital service. Reservations and tribal lands are often remote with limited service from grocery stores.
More information about USDA’s efforts regarding the Recovery Act is at www.usda.gov/recover.
USDA contributed information for this article.