Bush eyes $196M for rural Internet

President Bush wants to spend $196 million of the Agriculture Department's 2004 budget on loans to telecommunications companies to improve Internet access in rural towns and communities, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Wednesday.

Veneman also announced that the agency is starting the new loan program, making $1.4 billion available to companies to expand Internet access. The program was authorized as part of the 2002 farm bill.

"The expansion of this technology initiative will better equip our rural communities to enhance opportunities for economic development," she said. Veneman also said better access to the Web could help businesses in rural areas open jobs.

Bush also wants to spend $177 million in the 2004 budget year on the USDA's County Service Centers. Veneman said most of the money would be spent to upgrade technology and equipment at the offices. The improvements would mean farmers and ranchers could obtain more complete information about the land they cultivate through satellite mapping.

View: Agriculture Department

News source: TechNews.com

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