Rural People Should Not Be Forgotten by the Farm Bill

Small towns and the people who live in them are forgotten by the proposed new farm bill developed by the Senate Agriculture Committee. It would be the first farm bill in decades to invest no funds in rural development.
But help may be on the way.  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is developing an amendment to change that.  It will likely be offered this week or next as the farm bill is debated by the full Senate.   Last week, 185 rural leaders and organizations from across the nation sent a letter to every U.S. Senator urging them to work with Senator Brown in securing farm bill investment in rural development.

Since, 2003, the federal investment in rural development has been cut by one-third, even as overall federal spending has grown.  Without farm bill funding, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program will wither, denying loans, training and business plan assistance for rural enterprises with up to ten employees.

Grants will be fewer for farmers and ranchers launching innovative value added enterprises. Training and other assistance will be cut in half for beginning farmers and ranchers seeking a place on the land and in our communities. The $3 billion waiting list will lengthen for small towns in need of federal help with critical water and sewer upgrades.

Ordinary rural people can’t hire a bevy of high paid lobbyists. That makes it all the more critical that our Senators hear directly from us.  Rural people and communities should not be forgotten by the farm bill.

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