USDA Announces $25M For Broadband Technical Assistance


The money will help communities build technical assistance and training to improve broadband adoption in rural America.

Teralyn Whipple USDA Announces $25M For Broadband Technical Assistance Photo of USDA Under Secretary Basil Gooden

June 28, 2024 – The Department of Agriculture Rural Development announced on June 21 that it is making $25 million available through the Broadband Technical Assistance Program in a second round of funding.

The money will help local organizations, cooperatives and tribal governments expand affordability and availability of high-speed internet and is made possible through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

“USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet,” Under Secretary Basil Gooden said. “USDA is partnering with small towns, Tribes, local utilities, rural cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to this critical service, which will boost opportunities and help build bright futures. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.”

The BTA program helps communities and organizations delivery broadband technical assistance and training aimed at improving internet adoption in rural and tribal areas of the country. Funds can be used for various types of projects such as feasibility studies, network designs, hiring efforts and application development assistance, among other things.

The first round of funding accrued 96 applications requesting a total of $44.5 million. Applications are awarded more points if they assist rural communities in recovering economically through improved infrastructure or better market opportunities, ensure all rural residents have equitable access to USDA programs, and reduce climate pollution.

In February, the USDA announced over $770 million to fund over 200 projects in 45 states to enhance rural broadband connectivity and digital skills, as well as other economic development goals.

The agency administers the ReConnect program, as well, which offers both loans and grants to help cooperatives, telecommunications companies, and local governments cover the costs associated with deploying high-speed internet networks in underserved communities.

Notable projects include initiatives led by Merit Network in Michigan, receiving $997,000 to develop a connectivity and digital equity strategy across eight communities. Additionally, HarvestBeam, a broadband provider founded by local agricultural producers, regional economic development leaders, and rural broadband advocates in eastern North Carolina is receiving $199,000 to expand high-speed internet in 13 underserved regions.