October 22, 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that it is investing an additional $91.5 million in grant funding through the ReConnect Pilot Program to expand rural broadband in Missouri. The Blunt-backed FY2020 government funding bill included $550 million for the program, which targets areas that currently lack access to broadband and includes provisions that prevent overbuilding existing infrastructure.
“The pandemic has brought even more attention to how critical connectivity is to education, health care, and jobs,” said Blunt. “Ending the digital divide will level the playing field for people in rural areas who haven’t had the same opportunities to compete and succeed. I’ll continue working to ensure we have the policies and resources in place to address one of the most important economic and quality of life issues facing our rural areas.”
“In Missouri and across the country, technology and innovation are vital to agricultural production,” said USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Our commitment to invest in rural America cannot be achieved without addressing the digital divide our rural communities face because of a lack of high-speed broadband internet.”
Missouri received nearly 20 percent of the total nationwide allocation for this grant cycle. With today’s announcement, Missouri has received nearly $200 million in funding through the program over the past two years, including: $3 million in August 2020; $60.9 million in January 2020; and $41.6 million in November 2019.
Blunt supported the creation of the ReConnect Pilot Program in the FY2018 government funding bill, and supported additional funding for the program in the FY2019 and FY2020 funding bills.
Following are the details of the awardees announced today, according to USDA: