USDA Highlights Impact of Recovery Act on Rural America
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2010
Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlighted the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). One year after the passage of ARRA, evidence is clear – and growing by the day – that the Recovery Act is working to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and lay a new foundation for economic growth.
"President Obama’s Recovery Act has helped create jobs and lay a new foundation for economic growth during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA has used Recovery Act funding to create badly-needed jobs and stimulate local economies, help farmers and rural businesses make it through tough times, ensure that struggling families can put food on the table, and build and revitalize critical infrastructure in rural communities across America.”
“Over $1.6 million has been invested in the ARRA Floodplain Easement projects in Alabama,” said State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett. “This funding will restore frequently flooded land to its natural state; create jobs in rural communities where landowners establish the floodplain easements; as well as restore and protect over 870 acres of flood-prone lands in Alabama.”
Floodplain easements are a component of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program and administered by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Restoration may involve filling ditches or in many cases simply seeding and planting native vegetation or trees thus creating jobs for contractors and laborers.
Floodplains generate many public benefits, such as increased flood protection, enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, improved water quality and a reduced need for future public disaster assistance. Environmental benefits include reduced energy consumption when certain agricultural activities and practices are eliminated and increased carbon sequestration as permanent native vegetative cover is re-established. In addition, these restoration activities will protect the habitats of fourteen state-listed threatened and endangered species and provide healthy ecosystems.
Since the Recovery Act was signed into law a year ago, USDA has moved quickly to get dollars out the door. Aside from funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is allocated on a mandatory basis each month, USDA has announced the vast majority of its remaining $7.9 billion to support more than 90,000 grants, loans, and other job-creating projects. In the first year implementing the Recovery Act, USDA has:
Provided over $100 billion in tax relief for American businesses and families, including tax cuts for 95 percent of working families through the Making Work Pay tax Credit. And tax relief is expected to nearly double in the coming months.
Helped over 38 million Americans who need food assistance by providing an average increase in benefits of $80 per month to low-income households of four. This funding is a fast-acting economic stimulus as every $1 in food benefits generates up to $1.84 in total economic activity, supporting jobs at all levels of the food chain.
Helped 85,420 rural Americans purchase or repair their homes with affordable loans while simultaneously stimulating the economy, and creating jobs in the construction and real estate sectors.
Helped create private sector jobs protecting rural communities from large wildfires, while improving the health of our forests, water and air resources. We provided $500 million to treat over 134,000 acres of forest to reduce the risk of wildfire.
Provided 2,636 loans to farmers and ranchers help them purchase the farm equipment, feed, seed, and fuel they needed to keep their farms operating and support jobs in the rural economy. Approximately half of these loans went to beginning farmers and 25% to socially disadvantaged farmers.
Created green jobs at plants that use of wood from forest restoration activities to generate renewable energy. Grants worth $50 million went to projects that will power 223,000 homes.
Helped more than 5,000 schools purchase equipment to improve the safe and healthy meals they serve to children.
In the coming months, USDA will be implementing additional programs and projects as weather begins to thaw, and construction projects are expected to break ground across the country. In 2010, USDA will continue to invest in projects to help get Americans and the economy back to work:
By bringing broadband internet to an estimated 1.2 million households, 230,000 businesses, and 7,800 anchor institutions like hospitals and schools across rural America, in one largest job generating efforts to date. This $3.4 billion investment will give businesses access to global markets and spur rural economic development.
By helping 300 rural businesses grow, innovate and create jobs, providing $900 million on top of $570 million already at work helping 160 businesses across the country.
With the construction and improvement of hundreds of community facilities, such as police and fire stations, and libraries in rural America. We will improve access to health care for 3 million rural residents, and educational services for 2.5 million residents. We will provide nearly $750 million on top of $470 million already announced for more than 850 projects.
By constructing and rebuilding water and waste water systems in more than 200 communities affecting 1 million rural Americans. We will provide nearly $1 billion on top of more than $2 billion already announced for projects in 530 communities.
More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
For details, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.