Dear Congress: Please use the farm bill to invest in rural business

Farm and Food
Small Business

The Center for Rural Affairs recently led an effort to gather organizations in support of the Rural Microenterpreneur Assistance Program in the farm bill. Last week, this letter was sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Update on July 13, 2018: Additional organizations signing the letter include:
Cap Services, Inc., Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Coastal Enterprises, Inc., Brunswick, Maine
Four Bands Community Fund, Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Oakland, Nebraska
Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corporation, Nebraska City, Nebraska
Southwest Initiative Foundation, Hutchinson, Minnesota

June 26, 2018

To the members of the U.S. House and Senate,

We are writing, as grantees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), to ask you to support $3 million in mandatory funding each year for RMAP in the farm bill. Your investments in rural small businesses today will continue to provide valuable benefits to rural communities across America for years to come.

Created in the 2008 farm bill, RMAP has allowed numerous small rural businesses to access much-needed loan capital. This vital program makes grants to organizations that provide training and technical assistance and make small loans to new and existing rural small businesses. Though relatively small, receiving $3 million annually in mandatory funding since 2014, RMAP has facilitated 2,100 small businesses in expanding operations, creating jobs, and tapping into new markets.

According to the Wall Street Journal, between 1995 - 2015 the percentage of rural areas without a local bank increased from 12 percent to 32 percent. The absence of local banks severely limits credit to small and emerging businesses that need financing for working capital and equipment expenses in order to grow.

A small investment in this program in the farm bill makes a big difference. RMAP provides important and necessary tools for rural small businesses, and is a sound investment in the future of our rural communities.

The future of rural America is at stake in the farm bill. Small businesses contribute to the vitality of our communities, and are an integral part of our nation’s economy. We must work together to ensure that small businesses have the support and tools that they need to grow and develop into lasting and successful operations. We, the undersigned organizations who have received RMAP grants and/or understand the benefits they bring to rural communities, ask that you support and restore mandatory RMAP funding in the farm bill to $3 million per year.

Thank you,

California FarmLink, Santa Cruz, California
Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Nebraska
Clearwater Economic Development Association, Lewiston, Idaho
Communities Unlimited, Inc., Fayetteville, Arkansas
Community Concepts Finance Corporation, Lewiston, Maine
Community First Fund, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation, Westminster, Colorado
Community Ventures Corporation, Lexington, Kentucky
Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation, Camden, New Jersey
Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, Easton, Maryland
Feed the Hunger Foundation, San Francisco, California
First Ponca Financial, Grand Island, Nebraska
Glacial Lakes Area Development, Britton, South Dakota
Jefferson Economic Development Institute, Mount Shasta, California
Klamath Lake Regional Housing Center (KLRHC), Klamath Falls, Oregon
Lakota Funds, Kyle, South Dakota
MaineStream Finance, Bangor, Maine
MoFi, Missoula, Montana
Northern Initiatives, Marquette, Michigan
Northern Maine Development Commission, Caribou, Maine
Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation, Ware, Massachusetts
Seattle Economic Development Fund dba Business Impact NW, Seattle, Washington
Terra Green Community Development Corporation, Alameda, California