The U.S. House Agriculture Committee has begun to review the 2008 Farm Bill. The bill, which is set to expire in 2012, authorizes funding for an array of programs vital to rural counties. Such programs include funding for rural water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, renewable energy, and support for new farmers. Chairman Collin Peterson of the House Agriculture Committee, is accepting comments to be incorporated into the Committee’s Farm Bill field hearing record.
NACo, a long-standing advocate for federal funding for regional rural development programs, suggests that county officials urge Committee members to:
- Support an enhanced commitment to USDA Rural Development programs in the next farm bill, especially key infrastructure and business development programs that support the agricultural sector and the retention and attraction of new businesses. USDA Rural Development’s programs for water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, broadband and business development are key ingredients for county economic development efforts.
- Support the Administration’s proposed Rural Innovation Initiative or similar rural development strategies which focus on making USDA’s investments more efficient and effective by rewarding strategic regional approaches to rural development that allow counties and their regional partners to focus on their local economic assets, priorities and goals.
- Support enhanced funding for Renewable Energy development, especially programs that assist local governments in their efforts to develop renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.
- Ensure that all farm programs recognize that youth play a vital role in sustaining American agriculture and rural communities. New programs and updates to old programs are needed so that it is possible for young and beginning farmers to survive and thrive in the modern agricultural economy.
To complete the Committee’s online comment form click here. Comments are due by June 14, 2010