Department of Agriculture

USDA Funds 81 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Projects in 32 States

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will fund 81 Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects in 32 states. These projects will help connect rural communities with medical and educational experts in other parts of the country, increasing access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities. USDA is awarding $23.4 million in grants to support 45 distance learning and 36 telemedicine projects. Some of the awards will help communities provide services to address opioid misuse, a problem that is especially prevalent in rural areas. Secretary Vilsack is leading an interagency effort to address the rural opioid crisis. On June 30, Vilsack hosted a town hall meeting in Abingdon, Va., to address how the crisis is affecting rural America and parts of Appalachia, and while there he announced funding for five DLT projects in rural Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia to respond to the issue.

USDA Announces Funding for Advanced Communications Technology in Rural Areas

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants to enhance telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas.

The funding is available from the Community Connect Grant Program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, and the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program. Through the Community Connect Grant Program, USDA plans to provide up to $13 million to fund broadband in unserved areas to support economic growth and deliver enhanced educational, health care and public safety services.

Awardees must serve an area where broadband does not exist, provide a community center with broadband access, and offer broadband service to all residential and business customers. Also, USDA is making available up to $19.3 million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to fund access to rural education, training and health care resources. The DLT program finances telecommunications-enabled equipment and advanced technologies for people who live and work in rural areas.