U.S. Highway Trust Fund’s Power Extended; USDA Bring Broadboard to Rural Areas
Farm groups are disappointed that Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill before its August recess. Congress voted to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund's authorization through Oct. 29, the second such short-term extension this year. According to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, 80 percent of the domestic corn crop is trucked to market. National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, who is also a farmer, says farmers rely on the nation's infrastructure system every day, and they need safe, reliable roads and bridges to get our products to market.
A USDA loan program will help bring broadband to underserved rural areas. Broadband providers can apply for up to $20 million, but to be eligible for funding, an applicant must serve an area where at least 15 percent of the households are unserved. Applications with the most unserved households will be processed first. USDA also is setting a minimum level of acceptable broadband service at 4 megabits downstream and 1 megabit upstream. Applications will be accepted through September 30. The funds are made available by the 2014 Farm Bill.