The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a $1 billion investment to improve critical community facilities in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. USDA says the infrastructure funding will increase access to health care, education and public safety while spurring community development and building sound infrastructure for people living in rural communities. USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh says, “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities.” Bronaugh highlighted 731 projects that USDA is making in five programs that will fund essential community services. These programs include Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Technical Assistance Training Grants, Community Facilities Disaster Grants, and Economic Impact Initiative Grants. More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.