April 30, 1935:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7027 establishing the Resettlement Administration. That agency relocated destitute families stricken by the Depression, restored soil-eroded areas, and provided modest emergency loans to farmers for land and equipment.
Later, in 1946, Congress established the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) to expand the original agency's functions beyond farm credit. Congress authorized FmHA to provide financing in rural areas for housing, community facilities, and business ventures.
See "A Brief History of Farmers Home Administration" (PDF, 4,353 Kb*) to learn more.
May 11, 1935:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to provide electricity to rural areas. REA became part of the Department of Agriculture in 1939.
Over time, Congress expanded the agency's role. In 1949, Congress directed REA to oversee a rural telephone program, and, in the 1970s, it authorized the Rural Telephone Bank and use of revolving loan funds to finance the agency's telecommunications programs. More recently, Congress has tasked the agency with delivery of Internet-based telcommunications programs including distance learning and broadband.
See "A Brief History of the Rural Electric and Telephone Programs" (PDF, 6,389 Kb*) to learn more.
October 13, 1994:
The Department of Agriculture was reorganized under the Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act. Under that Act, USDA Rural Development was created to administer the former FmHA's non-farm financial programs for rural housing, community facilities, water and waste disposal, and rural businesses. The former REA's utility programs were also consolidated within Rural Development.
Today, Rural Development is the venture capitalist for rural America, built on the legacy of these Depression-era agencies begun 70 years ago. We are helping to develop the technological infrastructure that will enable rural America to compete in the 21st century domestically and globally. We are committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an $86 billion dollar loan portfolio, and we will administer nearly $16 billion in program loans, loan guarantees, and grants through our programs.
Anniversary Celebration (click photos to enlarge)
Acting Rural Development Under Secretary Gilbert Gonzalez introduces Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns (far right), the keynote speaker. >>
<< Glenn English, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO, speaks at the event. >>
Sam Morgan (standing) and Ray Sheehan of USDA play music for the guests. >>
See 70 Years of Commitment to Rural America: Anniversary Celebration Program (PDF, 11,341 Kb) for more about our history.
Video News Release: "USDA Marks Seventy Years of Rural Development" -- Real Player** / Windows Media Player**