Editor's note: The following article was written by the Texas Farm Bureau and published on their webiste.

A proposal recently published in the Federal Register outlines the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to promote the development of broadband networks in rural areas.

Dallas Tonsager, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, says that fast, reliable and affordable broadband internet service is essential for rural communities as it “helps businesses remain competitive in the national and global marketplace, and it helps residents have access to the same goods and services as people in metropolitan areas.”

The USDA projects would be focused in rural areas with the greatest need and would streamline the grant application process.

Applicants would also be allowed to use matching funds to cover the operating costs associated with broadband projects. In the past, that was not possible.

Grant funds may also now be used for an entire area instead of a single community.

For more information, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/STELPRD4018809.html.