USDA to provide $150 million to help rural communities affected by natural disasters, including 22 counties in Alabama


Special to the
Opelika Observer

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service Administrator Bruce Lammers announced last week that the USDA is making $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program to help rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters.
Alabama State Director Chris Beeker III announced that 22 counties in Alabama are eligible for this assistance.
“The devastation Rural Alabama and Rural America has faced in the recent natural disasters is heartbreaking. These funds will help our rural communities in the recovery process,” Beeker said.
“When rural America thrives, all of America thrives. Under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA stands with the Nation’s rural communities in their long-term recovery following natural disasters.”
The $150 million is included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act that President Trump signed into law on June 6. The grants may be used for relief in areas affected by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, wildfires in 2018 and other natural disasters where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a notice declaring a Major Disaster Declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery (DR) number.
View the list of designated communities as of Sept. 8. Check the FEMA website for regular updates and names of additional communities that may be added.
Alabama counties affected are Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, Madison, Marion, Mobile, Morgan, St. Clair and Winston.
Grant applications will be accepted at USDA state offices on a continual basis until funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale; smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds. For application details and additional information, see page 47477 of the Sept. 10 Federal Register at
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in eligible rural areas with a population of 20,000 or fewer.
In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Sonny Perdue presented the task force’s findings to President 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. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. To view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic posted right.
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.
    For more information, visit


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