USDA invests in telemedicine and distance learning
December 3, 2019
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $42.5m in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two US territories.
USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning & Telemedicine (DLT) grant programme. These investments should benefit 5.4 million rural residents.
“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” said Donald LaVoy, deputy under secretary for rural development. “USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
USDA announced investments in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
For example, Owensboro Health in Kentucky is receiving a $460,820 grant to install telemedicine equipment at ten sites in Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties in Kentucky and a site in Perry County, Indiana. This project will provide health care resources to approximately 35,000 residents, including nearly 2000 patients.
Mississippi State University is receiving a $488,315 grant to update video conferencing and cloud-based equipment in 93 counties. USDA’s investment will enable participants in extension offices and experiment stations to deliver educational programming to interactive audiences. This project will benefit nearly 29,000 Mississippi residents, students, extension educators and faculty.
In Ohio, the Lisbon Exempted Village School District is receiving a $323,478 grant to create a distance-learning network at eight sites in Columbiana county. The district will offer classes and behavioural health services to 850 students.
Applicants eligible for grants include most state and local governmental entities, federally recognised tribes, non-profits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.
In April 2017, US president Donald Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture & Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue presented the task force’s findings to Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.