Calling on Congress to support rural development

By Catholic Rural Life on May 13, 2015

Rural Outreach and Ministry

As part of a national campaign advocating for effective rural development, Catholic Rural Life has joined with other organizations to urge Congress to protect and enhance funding for critical rural development programs. The respective House and Senate subcommittees are currently considering agriculture appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2016.

dirtroad“We stand ready to work with you as a partner in addressing the fiscal challenges facing our nation, but believe that cutting critical rural development programs is not a viable part of the solution,” states our organizational letter to House and Senate committee chairmen. “Federal investments in rural business creation, infrastructure, and housing programs spur private sector job creation and lead to increased economic activity.

The Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development is a collaboration of national organizations with a strong interest in the sustainability and prosperity of rural America. The Campaign recognizes the significance of strong appropriations for USDA Rural Development programs to the rural communities, residents and industries that we represent.

USDA Rural Development is often the lender of last resort for a broad range of projects that are critical to rural America. The agency’s grant and loan programs also help leverage public and private sector funding and expertise to advance small business and renewable energy development and build water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, broadband and electric infrastructure, and housing.

The FY 2016 agriculture appropriations bill should build upon these locally-led efforts to develop critical infrastructure and business capacity. Here are some of important programs highlighted by the Campaign for Renewed Rural Development, including target funding levels:

Rural Business – Cooperative Service

  • Rural Cooperative Development Grants program: $9 million
  • Value Added Producer Grants program: $15 million in discretionary funding
  • Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program: $2.5 million
  • Rural Microenterprise Investment Program: $2.65 million for loans; $2 million for grants
  • Rural Business Development Grant program: $30 million
  • Rural Energy for America Program: $10 million

Rural Housing Service

  • Community Facilities Guarantee Program: maintain current funding level
  • Rural Community Facilities Grants: $30 million
  • Economic Impact Initiative Grants: $5.7 million
  • Rural Community Development Initiative Grants: $5.9 million

Rural Utilities Service

  • Authorize Rural Water and Wastewater Loan Guarantee Program: $30 million
  • Water/Wastewater Disposal Grant Program: $347 million
  • Telecommunications Loan Program: $690 million
  • Broadband Telecommunications Loan Account: $44.2 million
  • Community Connect Broadband Grants Account: $20.3 million
  • Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants Account: $24.9 million
  • Increased administration and staffing of Rural Utilities Service programs

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