Center shares appropriations requests for federal program funding

Small Towns

To advocate for programs that benefit rural communities, the Center for Rural Affairs recently shared funding recommendations with members of Congress for select U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. The requests, part of the annual appropriations process, will be considered by members of the Senate and House agriculture appropriations subcommittees as they piece together a federal budget for 2024.

Among the Center’s top priorities was the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which provides loan funding and technical assistance to rural small businesses nationwide. In addition to submitting its own appropriations request for an increase in funding to $8 million, the Center led efforts and garnered support from 30 organizations spanning 22 states. The group came together with a clear message—an increase in funding would ensure more rural entrepreneurs have access to the training and capital needed to grow and maintain successful businesses.

The Center also encouraged subcommittee members to increase funding to $1.1 billion for Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA). The program , which funds USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff, is essential to the successful implementation of conservation efforts, including those on working lands. Through programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, NRCS staff help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that address priority resource concerns, such as soil health and water quality.

As part of the Center’s ongoing efforts to advocate for programs that strengthen local food systems and support underserved producers, $7.4 million was requested for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and $5 million for the Farming Opportunities, Training and Outreach (FOTO) program.

FMLFPP, a subprogram of the Local Agriculture Market Program, provides funding for projects connecting small and mid-sized producers with customers, thus increasing consumers’ access to fresh, local food. 

FOTO provides third party entities with grants for education, outreach, and technical assistance to beginning, veteran, socially disadvantaged, and other underserved producers to increase their access to and understanding of USDA programs. 

Finally, the Center submitted a request for no changes in mandatory funding for the Extension Risk Management Education program, which provides grant funding for projects that help producers increase the financial stability of their operations through risk management tools, resources, and education.

Funding amounts requested by the Center for 2024 include:

  • Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program: $8 million
  • Conservation Technical Assistance: $1.1 billion
  • Farming Opportunities, Training, and Outreach: $5 million
  • Local Agriculture Market Program: $7.4 million for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
  • Extension Risk Management Education: No changes in mandatory program funding.