USDA commits $100 million to fund rural first responders

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The Department of Agriculture has committed $100 million to pay for equipment and services to better prepare rural first responders to deal with emergencies.

The funds are part of the USDA's First Responder Initiative, which allocates one-fifth of USDA Rural Development funds for first responders. The funds are allocated as loans or grants and can be used to purchase police and fire vehicles and equipment, and to pay for training for first responders. The funds also can be used to build health care centers, animal shelters, police and fire stations, or other facilities used by first responders.

"The funds announced today are a major investment in the lives and security of our citizens and are part of the USDA's ongoing investment in the future of rural communities and their ability to better prepare for emergency situations," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.

As of early July, $81 million of the funds had been committed. Among other things, these funds will be used to build an animal shelter in Dunklin County, Missouri, build 20 fire stations, and purchase nine ambulances. A complete list of funded projects is available online, at

For more information about the USDA Rural Development program, visit