Minneapolis, MN – Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman recently announced that $100 million is committed for a new USDA First Responder Initiative to support rural emergency responder efforts by prioritizing the financing for needed equipment and services.
Veneman said that as part of USDA’s First Responder Initiative, a minimum of one dollar of every five dollars of fiscal year 2004 community facility funding available, will be dedicated to first responder type requests. USDA Rural Development provides financing of a variety of community facilities, such as: libraries, courthouses, fire and rescue facilities and equipment, police and emergency vehicles and services and other community focused facilities and services. The initiative will prioritize the funding of at least $100 million to specifically strengthen the ability of rural communities to respond to local emergencies. The following types of projects are emphasized through this initiative:
- Fire Protection Equipment
- Fire Station
- Fire Trucks
- Rescue and Ambulance Service – Equipment Building
- Emergency Response Training
- Early Storm Warning System
- Communications Center
- Mobil Communications Center
Veneman said that so far $81 million has been obligated to fund 20 fire stations, 24 fire trucks, 8 police cars and other fire and rescue equipment, including $36,500 for a fire truck and ambulance for Minnesota. In addition, funding will support more than 20 health care related efforts such as hospitals and medical centers, as well as nine ambulances. In total, more than 100 first responder applications have been approved for funding. Funding of selected applicants will be contingent upon meeting the conditions of the loan and/or grant agreement. A list of the individual awards can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/newsroom/2004/firstresponders2004list.html.
During the Bush Administration more than $1.5 billion has been invested by USDA Rural Development to address essential community needs that assist with public safety, education, health care, cultural, transportation, and other public needs, including: the purchase of 508 fire trucks, 103 police cars, and 156 ambulances and construction or renovation of 79 hospitals, 71 public or charter schools, and 155 child care centers. In addition, $29 million in grant funds have been invested in 93 telemedicine grant projects to develop technologies needed to enhance medical care involving 846 health care institutions.
For more information about USDA’s effort in homeland security, visit www.usda.gov.