A technician installs cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
Here at USDA, we know utilities mean more than just flipping a switch or turning on a faucet. Access to crucial rural infrastructure helps boost trade opportunities for rural businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our nation’s economy as a whole. That’s why we’re making smart investments to lay the groundwork for long-term prosperity in communities across the country and to provide the foundation needed for rural economies to thrive.
By spurring smart and sustainable infrastructure growth and by helping rural communities manage utility costs, we’re opening the door to a world of opportunities for rural businesses everywhere. Updated water and water treatment systems, increased renewable energy sources, and access to affordable, reliable electric systems and broadband all work to improve the quality of life for our nation’s rural residents, and open possibilities to connect to the global economy. Read more »
We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration this month. The REA was created because in 1935, rural areas had no electricity—no lights or power to transform their hard work and efforts into efficiency and productivity. With the creation of the REA, and the subsequent Congressional action through the Rural Electrification Act, REA was able to empower rural America, changing lives and livelihoods for the better.
Rural Electrification Administration (REA) erects telephone lines in rural areas. Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.
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North Plains Electric Cooperative, located in Perryton, Texas, and serving the Northeast corner of the Texas panhandle, the co-op has “been lighting the Texas Plains since 1944.”
In the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 on May 11, 1935 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), a temporary agency tasked with deciding how to fund rural electric systems. The following year, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, giving statutory power to the new agency.
It didn’t take them long to get to work. In 1937, the REA noted the most spectacular increase of rural electrification in the history of the United States had been achieved. Thanks to this national commitment, more than 1.2 million farms had electric service and the gap between urban and rural standards of living was closing. Read more »
I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the birthplace of former Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace during a recent trip to Iowa. In fact, my tour of the farm near Orient in south central Iowa happened to be May 15, the day the USDA celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Wallace was Secretary of the Agriculture from March 4, 1933 until September 4, 1940. He served as Vice President of the United States from 1941 to 1945 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was also Secretary of Commerce from 1945 to 1946.
Wallace is perhaps the 20th Century’s most well-known Ag Secretary and his accomplishments are monumental. Read more »
Pictured from the left are Reverend Clark Bates and wife, USDA Deputy Administrator for Rural Utilities Jessica Zufolo and former Administrator Chris McLean.
Jessica Zufolo, deputy administrator for the USDA Rural Utilities Service, was a guest speaker at the 75th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) celebration in McCook, Nebraska late last month. Also attending were USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul, Colorado State Director Jim Isgar, and former Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service Chris McLean along with more than 100 attendees. McLean is a former Nebraskan. Read more »