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Rural Development grants finding way to urban areas

Gilbert M. Gaul and Sarah Cohen of The Washington Post report that a majority of money from the USDA's Rural Development program is ending up in urban areas. "More than three times as much money went to metropolitan areas with populations of 50,000 or more ($30.3 billion) as to poor or shrinking rural counties ($8.6 billion)." The aid, originally intended for "farmland and backwoods areas that were isolated and poor," has been spent on everything from a popular tavern on Martha's Vineyard to wiring an affluent Houston suburb for internet service. The discrepancies exist because the regulations which determine which communities are eligible for the development funds differ for each of the 40 programs and are vulnerable to Congressional influence. Information about the data analysis done for this story can be found here.

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