In 2007 the National Association of Counties (NACo) launched the Campaign for Renewed Rural Development in an effort to enhance rural development opportunities and funding through U.S. Department of Agriculture. Passed in 2008, the Farm Bill authorizes USDA funding to an array of programs vital to rural counties including: rural water/ wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, renewable energy, and support for new farmers. The Farm Bill, set to expire in 2012, could include major cuts via deficit-reduction efforts. NACo and its partners are seeking to maintain current funding for USDA rural development and are seeking policy changes that will give counties greater flexibility to use current funding for their top priority projects.
The six key priorities outlined in the joint principles letter fall under the following broad themes:
- Clarify the mission of USDA Rural Development
- Provide flexibility and incentives for regional collaboration
- Maintain rural development investments
- Maintain and improve technical assistance
- Improve metrics and accountability, and
- Streamline application and reporting processes.
NACo Executive Director Larry Naake states:
“Federal rural development programs must be significantly enhanced and made a centerpiece of the 2012 Farm Bill if our nation is to strengthen the economic competitiveness and quality of life in small towns and rural counties across America.”
For further information, please visit the NACo website.