USDA invested essential services for rural residents in 2017

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. – In a USDA news release on Jan. 25, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that USDA invested in nearly 400 projects to provide essential services for more than seven million people in rural areas across the country in FY 2017, including 17,553 rural South Dakotans.

The release featured projects from around the nation. Examples of South Dakota projects include:

• City of Faith received a $90,000 loan to purchase a new ambulance equipped with four-wheel drive that will assist in providing the most reliable emergency services. The existing ambulance only had two-wheel drive, very high mileage, and was beginning to exceed its useful life. In addition, the city of Faith received a $8,700 loan to purchase a police vehicle. They will be purchasing a Ford Interceptor SUV with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and all-wheel drive. The vehicle will be a huge asset in maintaining public safety.

• Yankton County Historical Society (YCHS), Inc., based in Yankton, received a $500,000 loan to renovate the historic 1909 Mead Building. The facility will provide a first-class regional museum and cultural center which will be an enormous asset to the community. Also, this facility will allow YCHS to triple its available capacity including storage, work, and public use space for special exhibits, presentations or events.

• Stickney Volunteer Fire Department, based in Stickney, received a $97,900 loan to upgrade its tanker truck. The present one is gas and the upkeep is costing too much to maintain to keep it operational. The fire department provides fire response and emergency services to an area covering seven townships and one town in Aurora County. The upgraded tanker will be a great asset to the community, providing renewed safety and security to the region.

• Vale Fire Department, based in Vale, received a $32,600 loan to purchase an emergency response truck. Their fleet of aging vehicles are unreliable and expensive to maintain. It is imperative they purchase a new vehicle for the department to continue providing emergency services to the community of Vale and the surrounding areas.

• White Lake Volunteer Fire Department, based in White Lake, received a $215,000 loan to purchase a pumper fire truck. The upgraded truck will replace a 40-year old truck with 12,000 miles on it. The fire department provides fire response and emergency services to an area covering approximately 553 square miles in Aurora County.

• City of Webster received a $791,000 loan to renovate the existing fire hall. The renovations to the facility are needed to eliminate safety concerns and provide for adequate storage, meeting, and training space for the volunteer fire department due to increasing demands for services in this growing community and area. The upgrades include seven truck bays, a meeting/class room that will accommodate 40 people, a fire chief office, adequate room for 30 staff lockers to store bunker gear and other equipment, utility room, shower facility, multipurpose room, and a room for an emergency generator.

Nationwide, USDA invested $1.5 billion in rural areas in 2017 through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program for projects such as schools, libraries, municipal centers, first responder vehicles and equipment, social service buildings, recreational activities and other community needs.

Rural Development’s Community Facilities program has made a significant impact on the quality of life in many rural communities. In December, the Department highlighted USDA investments in Fiscal Year 2017 that will help construct or improve infrastructure and boost economic growth in rural communities. In November, the Department announced more than one billion dollars in investments to improve health care in rural areas. These projects also utilized the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program.

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, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. 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. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.

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