Rural Partners Network: Biden Administration launches program to ensure resources reach rural communities
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice announced April 20 the launch of the USDA-led Rural Partners Network (RPN) initiative to assist rural communities in developing economic growth.
Rural communities can tend to feel forgotten when it comes to policymakers’ decisions in Washington. This initiative was created to alleviate some of this lack of communication and disregard for rural communities.
The announcement is part of the Biden administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, which involved Biden administration officials traveling to rural communities to discuss Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments and ensuring rural American communities receive important federal resources.
A USDA press release states, “RPN is an all-of- government program which will help rural communities access government resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure and support long-term economic stability.”
According to the RPN website, “RPN puts federal staff on the ground to support designated, economically challenged communities. These federal employees pro-vide local leaders with the expertise to navigate federal programs. As their work progresses, the lessons learned will impact future federal rural policy development and investment strategies.”
Vilsack is hopeful RPN will positively impact rural American communities.
“Under the leader-ship of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA and its federal partners are committed to unlocking the full potential of rural America by investing in its people and the unique visions they have for the places they call home,” Vilsack said. “Rural America is incredibly diverse – economically, racially, culturally and geographically. What makes sense for one community may not for another. RPN will help communities get funding for investments creating long-lasting benefits for their communities, especially those which have been overlooked in the past. By providing one- on-one support to these communities, we can lay the foundation for people to build healthy, successful futures on their own terms.”
According to the USDA, the initial program launch is set to occur in over 25 selected communities within Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and certain Tribes within Arizona.
“To deliver on the promise to make federal resources more readily available to under- served communities across rural America, the Biden administration will expand RPN to additional places later in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. Those states, Tribes and territories include Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Native Alaskan communities,” states the USDA.
If Congress feels RPN should be funded in FY 2023, the initiative may possibly expand to all 50 states. The initiative will be playing out throughout rural American communities this year, and many officials are hopeful there will be positive outcomes.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@ wylr.net.