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Editorial: December 2014

USDA partnership investments building North Dakota


A recent report, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) titled, “Made in Rural America,” highlights the commitment USDA has made to strengthen rural economies.

The report also contains a state-by-state fact sheet that highlights specific USDA investments in rural businesses, manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. It also outlines how USDA is helping rural communities attract businesses and families by investing in housing and broadband service.

The North Dakota fact sheet contains these highlights:

  • USDA has made investments to help 162 rural businesses in North Dakota thrive and grow.

  • USDA has invested $26.3 million to help rural manufacturing increase productivity and capacity; today rural manufacturing supports about 13,000 jobs in North Dakota.

  • USDA has helped some 3,000 North Dakota families purchase or repair homes.

  • USDA has invested $293 million to support new and improved broadband service for North Dakotans, which expands access to state-of-the-art health care, educational and cultural resources, and helps rural businesses compete in the global economy.

  • USDA has invested $130 million to support efficient water supply, treatment and storage facilities and wastewater treatment facilities.



In addition, USDA has been a key lender for the state’s electric cooperatives. Each year, it provides millions of dollars in financing to help North Dakota’s electric cooperatives build new power supply and distribution facilities, or to renew existing plant. These investments help improve the reliability and stability of the electric cooperative network across the state

North Dakota’s electric cooperatives have worked closely with USDA over the years in the delivery of these programs. We’re pleased that Jasper Schneider, former state director of USDA Rural Development in North Dakota, has accepted the post of acting administrator for the nation’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). RUS oversees a loan portfolio of some $40 billion in electric, telecommunications and water infrastructure across the nation. We extend our congratulations and best wishes to Jasper as he takes over this critically important agency and financial partner for rural America.

“Made in Rural America” also reminds us to support our local merchants and businesses throughout the year. One way we can easily do that in our state is to look for products that carry the Pride of Dakota label.

Pride of Dakota was officially launched in 1985 with about 20 companies as members. Today, more than 500 member companies – ranging in size from large companies with more than 100 employees to “mom-and-pop” operations – participate in the program, which continues to be supported by the North Dakota Agriculture Department and Commissioner Doug Goehring. You can find retail outlets across the state for these Pride of Dakota products by visiting

Let’s all support North Dakota businesses, which ultimately support strong local economies and expanded opportunities for rural North Dakotans.



Dennis Hill, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Dennis Hill, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email to