WASHINGTON (AP) — A bank that serves farmers and agribusiness is donating $10 billion to spur private investment in rural America.
The White House was announcing the money Thursday as part of a rural conference it is holding this week. Colorado-based CoBank is part of a network of banks that provides financing to agribusiness and rural areas.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hopes private investors will follow with additional dollars for the fund, which will be managed by private partners. The AgricultureDepartment will help identify needed projects such as rural health care and educational facilities, water and wastewater systems, energyprojects, and broadband improvements.
Vilsack has made revitalizing rural America a priority as small towns have been losing population and political clout in recent years. He said leveraging private money is a new approach.
"USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite," Vilsack said, adding that there was a backlog of projects in many parts of the economy.