By Anna Johnson, email@example.com, Center for Rural Affairs
Last month, Congress passed its spending bill for this year, which funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2018. We are glad to see that it provides support for rural America.
First, Congress provided healthy funding for conservation. Not only did lawmakers refrain from cutting farm bill conservation programs for the first time in several years, they also increased funding for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical assistance, to $874 million from last year’s levels.
In addition, Congress rejected proposed cuts to Rural Development programs.
The Value-Added Producer Grant Program, which allows farmers and ranchers to diversify their income, was funded at the same level as 2017, at $15 million.
The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which provides loan funds and technical assistance to rural entrepreneurs, remains at the funding level provided in the previous farm bill, at $2.8 million, without additional support.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program received its highest funding level in 30 years, $35 million. We are encouraged to see our lawmakers demonstrate support for publicly funded research in sustainable agriculture.
Finally, the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, received $3 million in funding for 2018, which is in addition to the $10 million in funding provided by the farm bill. This program allows farmers and ranchers, who are new to farm programs, access U.S. Department of Agriculture support.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.