USDA Opens New Rural Data Gateway for SLGs


State and local governments and the constituencies they serve are in line to get a clearer look at some of the Federal data that drives development projects in rural areas of the country.

Increasing the transparency of that vital government data is the aim of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new Rural Data Gateway project that it launched earlier this month.

Xochitl Torres Small, USDA’s Rural Development Undersecretary, said the Rural Data Gateway “make the department’s data for rural projects easier to access for its partners and for people living in rural communities.”

The new data platform features “easy-to use” investment dashboards that show how USDA rural development programs have been supporting local and regional economies across the span of 69 different programs over the past 11 years.

The data is broken up by state, county, and congressional district, which USDA said will help users analyze trends across different regions.

The Rural Data Gateway can also be used to support study into a variety of use cases. Among those are investments to expand access to high-speed internet service, improve health care services, and increase access to safe drinking water.  The gateway can also help business owners, farmers, and ranchers better understand where rural development resources have helped to modernize infrastructure and create economic prosperity, the agency said.

The Rural Data Gateway, the agency said, will “help USDA better target resources to the people who need them most in rural places.”

In the process of providing easier access to the data, USDA said it will become a stronger partner to state and local governments, rural people, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders.

“The Biden-Harris Administration knows that transparency is important for a free government,” Under Secretary Torres Small said.

“It also drives innovation, accountability and more equitable outcomes for rural people everywhere,” the official said. “The Rural Data Gateway will highlight places where USDA has expanded access to capital for people in rural communities who need it most. It will demonstrate how Rural Development (RD) funds are being used across rural America.”

Creating of the Rural Data Gateway stems from the goal of expanding public access to Federal government data as required by the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act of 2018.