(WRXX) – Nearly $40 million in federal money will flow to rural counties in Missouri and Illinois to build high-speed internet networks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday.
Most of the funding comes in the form of low-interest loans from the Department of Agriculture; some is part of a grant from the ReConnect program, established by Congress in 2019.
Vilsack said in a phone call with reporters Thursday that many parts of the country today still have limited internet access in terms of upload and download speeds that simply don’t allow for multiple uses, and don’t accommodate distance learning and telemedicine, don’t allow businesses to expand market opportunities and would not allow farmers the opportunity at precision agriculture.
In Illinois, Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association will receive a $25.2 million loan to hook up 1,140 people, 22 businesses and 84 farms in Jackson and Randolph counties to high-speed internet.
The bipartisan infrastructure measure passed into law earlier this year includes another $65 billion to promote internet access.
Federal officials have not yet divided up those funds.