On April 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide. The guide serves as a “one-stop-shop” for federal funding opportunities available to rural communities through the CARES Act and other programs. Not only does the guide provide an outline on USDA programs, but links rural communities with funding opportunities, social programs and guidelines for implementation across several federal agencies.
To provide immediate relief to rural counties in need, the USDA has extended the deadline on many of their loan services and amended provisions to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the CARES Act. Deadline extensions, which vary by state, include:
- Rural Development Guaranteed Loan Programs
- Rural Housing Service
- Rural Utilities Service
- Rural Business-Cooperative Service
Additionally, the CARES Act allocates $100 million for the USDA ReConnect program. The USDA has not provided details on the allocation, but a recent press release states that the funding will be awarded as grants. The CARES Act also provides the USDA with $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program.
Other programs outlined in the USDA Resource Guide also fall under funding outlined in the CARES Act or existing federal programs. Although the guide outlines the existing federal opportunities for rural communities, there needs to be more direct funding for these populations. Counties are on the frontlines for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic across the board and direct relief should be available to all local communities.
NACo continues to provide information and support to counties during the COVID-19 public health emergency on our online resource page.
Additional COVID-19 Federal Resources to Support Rural Communities include:
- SAMHSA virtual addiction recovery resources
- FTA Emergency Relief Program
- FCC waives Rural Health Care and E-Rate program Rules