The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that Vermont communities, families and businesses benefited from $125 million in USDA Rural Development (RD) grants, loans and loan guarantees in Federal Fiscal Year 2014. “These funds helped thousands of Vermonters find affordable homes, find good paying jobs, and access vital community services,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady. “As the federal government’s only agency devoted to assisting rural communities, USDA Rural Development is a one stop shop for the people, businesses and communities of rural Vermont. The hardworking men and women of the agency have a singular focus, helping our rural communities thrive.” Brady noted that funding was used to bolster Vermont’s food systems economy, to build water and wastewater systems, to help businesses create jobs and produce renewable energy, and to build or purchase essential community facilities such as libraries, fire trucks, schools and arts venues. The Newport-based non-profit Green Mountain Farm Direct used a small portion of that $125 million, a $102,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant, to connect farmers with schools and other large institutional buyers. The new owner of The Inn at Round Barn in Waitsfield used a $1.4 million loan guarantee to purchase the inn retaining 39 jobs. The Town of Hancock used a $50,000 Community Facilities Grant to convert their historic school house into town offices and a library. And more than 2,000 families benefited from Rural Development loans, grants and rental assistance to help them buy, repair or rent their homes. For more information about the communities, businesses and people Rural Development served in 2014 visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/vt. President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $208 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development, visit www.rd.usda.gov/vt.