USDA Rural Development - The Director's Rural Infrastructure News

July 21, 2022

The Director’s Rural Infrastructure News

Kyle Wilkens, Missouri State Director, USDA Rural Development

We are amid the dog days of summer and many Missouri farmers could use some rain. Some of our northwest Missouri brethren may be willing to share some rain if we ask nicely! If only it were that easy. Beyond the issue of rain, many of us are running kids here and there. Baseball/softball games, football camps, volleyball camps, FFA/4-H county fairs and many other activities are keeping folks moving this summer. USDA Rural Development in Missouri is also on the move through these hot days, appreciative of everyone working with us and looking forward to working with many more Missourians in the not-too-distant future.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with the CEO and a board member at the Ellett Memorial Hospital in Appleton City. They were gracious enough to give us a tour of their facility and allow us to meet their hard-working staff. Most of them live in Appleton City and the surrounding counties. We sat down and discussed the vision of the hospital going forward and some current and future needs. We look forward to working with the hospital and community where we can. USDA Rural Development has programs that can assist with rural health care.

Ellett Memorial Hospital

Our Emergency Rural Health Care Grants (ERHCG) program is used to address a variety of immediate health care needs and services in rural communities. This grant helps rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities and purchase medical supplies.

Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants is another way that USDA can assist our rural communities. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another. To learn more about recently funded DLT projects, Rural Development has developed a map of recently funded DLT projects .

Cornett MU Research Farm
I also had the privilege of going on a University of Missouri (MU) Northern Missouri Research Farms Tour last week – Greenley Research Center in Novelty, Thompson Research Center in Spickard and the Forage Systems Research Center at Cornett Farm in Linneus. Rural Development has funded multiple projects including a Commodity Shed at the Thompson Center as well as a working facility for cattle at the Forage Systems Research Center through our Business Loans and Grants Program. It is always exciting to see the work that is going on at these research farms that give Missouri producers tried and true results that can lead to a diversification of their operations in the future.

USDA Rural Development has many different business programs that can provide financial backing and technical assistance to stimulate business creation and growth. Loans, loan guarantees, and grants are available to individuals, businesses, cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, public bodies, non-profit corporations, and private companies in rural communities. The financial resources of the Business Programs are often leveraged with those of other public and private credit source lenders to meet business and credit needs in under-served areas. The funding is intended to help improve the quality of life in rural communities by enhancing economic opportunities and ensuring self-sustainability for generations to come.

Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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 and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

Rural Development staff live and work in the very communities they serve. From one neighbor to another, let us know if you need us. Always feel free to reach out to us at Rural Development by visiting our website, emailing us at, or calling us at (573) 876-0976 to get more information on any of USDA Rural Development’s programs.

Thank you,

Kyle Wilkens

USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director