U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has distributed $4.8 million in funding to the 27th Congressional District of Texas from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help stimulate job growth in South Texas.

Ortiz's district will receive $625,000 in farm loans from the Farm Service Agency; $1.6 million will go for rural development of water and waste treatment projects and $2.5 million will go for single-family housing loans.

"We must continue to work for all Americans," Ortiz said. "We continue to see funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act reach South Texas. We have learned that the unemployment rate has decreased from previous months, which is a clear indication that the stimulates package is working."

Secretary Tom Vilsack, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said his agency has worked quickly to announce $27.7 billion of the $28 billion that was provided by the Recovery Act. In addition, the USDA has announced $12.5 billion of the $24.9 billion in low-cost loans as authorized by the Act to help struggling rural families.

"The USDA is working to distribute Recovery Act funds to help rural Americans weather the impact of the current economic downturn while making a down payment on building communities that will thrive and compete in the 21st century," Vilsack said. "These investments reflect my shared commitment, with President Obama, to strengthening America's rural communities."

The USDA Recovery Act funds are helping provide immediate assistance to those in need. The increased benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which affects 1 in 10 Americans, are providing most recipient families of four an extra $80 per month. In addition to preventing hunger, this spending acts as broad economic stimulus - as each $1 in benefits is estimated to generate $1.84 in economic activity.

In addition, USDA Recovery Act investments nationwide will:

Expand opportunities and spur economic development with up to $9 billion in broadband loans and grants to rural communities. Distribute $11.2 billion to provide 80,000 home loans in rural communities. Provide loans and grants worth $3.6 billion to provide safe drinking water, improve wastewater treatment systems, and to create jobs and bring increased economic benefits to rural America. Utilize nearly $3 billion to improve, develop, and finance business, industry, and employment while improving the economic and environmental climate in rural communities.

For more information about funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, go to http://ortiz.house.gov or www.recovery.gov.