NARC supports increased and sustained funding in the reauthorization of the Farm Bill’s “Conservation” (Title II) and “Rural Development” (Title VI) programs and resources. This is important for assisting rural community improvements and offering increased economic opportunity. NARC also supports funding flexible rural development programs that allow localities to work regionally and locally to develop infrastructure improvements, community facilities, business development, broadband deployment, entrepreneurship, healthcare and many other essential programs. NARC is active on the Farm Bill reauthorization through the Campaign for Renewed Rural Development (CRRD).
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- On January 27, 2014, the Conference Committee released a comprehensive compromise bill, which passed the House by a vote of 251-166 on January 29.
- On October 30, 2013, House and Senate Conference Committee Members began negotiations on long-term Farm Bill reauthorization. NARC joined the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development (CRRD) to send a letter to conference committee members outlining priorities for the Rural Development title.
- On October 11, House Leaders appointed conferees to begin negotiations with the Senate. The House and Senate proposals differ by over $35 billion in funding.
- On September 9, the House narrowly approved, by a vote of 217-210, a nutrition portion of the Farm Bill setting the stage for conference with the Senate. The bill (HR 3102) would cut nearly $40 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- The House narrowly approved by a vote of 208-216 a measure containing only the farm policy portion of the FARRM Act. No Democrats supported the bill, and no commitment has been made to address the nutrition portion of the bill.
- The House voted down its version of the Farm Bill in a surprise vote of 195-234. 62 Republicans voted against the bill and only 24 Democrats supported the measure that was contentious largely because of differences over Nutrition Program funding.
- The Senate passed it’s version of the Farm Bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act (S 954), on June 10, 2013 by a vote of 66-27. The House is expected to consider its measure the week of June 17, 2013 and Rural Development funding amendments that failed in committee markup will be offered for consideration by the full Chamber.
- The House version, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013 (HR 1947), which provides $940 billion over 10 years, was approved in committee by a vote of 36-10 on May 15. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this proposal will provide an estimated $40 billion in savings over 10 years compared to current law. This estimate includes an estimate $6 billion in sequestration-related cuts.
- The Senate version, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S 954), which provides $955 billion over 10 years, was approved in committee by a vote of 15-5 on May 14. The CBO estimates this measure will save $24 billion over 10 years compared to current law. This estimate also includes $6 billion in sequestration-related cuts.
- CRRD letter to House members supporting the conference package and the investments outline for Rural Development programs.
- CRRD letter to House and Senate Conference Committee members
- TEMPLATE LETTER to Members of Congress to increase Rural Development funding in the FARRM Act (HR 1947)
- NARC Talking Points on HR 1947
- FARRM Act (HR 1947) Bill Summary – House Agriculture Committee proposal, passed the committee on 5/15/2013, slated for consideration by the full House during summer 2013
- Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S 974) Bill Summary – Senate Agriculture Committee proposal, passed the committee on 5/14/2013, slated for Senate consideration on 5/20/2013
- Side by Side Comparisons (credit: National Farmers Union)
- NARC policy statement on Regional Economic Development
- Campaign for Renewed Rural Development (CRRD) letter regarding increased Rural Development funding in the FARRM Act (HR 1947)
- Campaign for Renewed Rrual Development (CRRD) letter encouraging Rural Deveopment funding in conference activities
Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, HR 1947
- FARRM Act, HR 1947 Bill Text
- FARRM Act Homepage
- Section by Section Analysis, HR 1947
- CBO Estimate, HR 1947
- En bloc Amendments passed during committee markup, HR 1947
- Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) opposing HR 1947
- Rural Development Amendments supported by NARC in House markup:
- McIntyre Amendment 41 (adopted en bloc) – Makes technical assistance an eligible expense under USDA’s communities facilities program and ensures local governments are eligible for this assistance.
- McIntyre Amendment 39 (failed (23-22) – Provides $50 million in mandatory funding to address water and wastewater backlog at USDA
- McIntyre Amendment 40 (failed 25-20) – Provides 15 million in mandatory funding for Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program and ensures local governments are eligible for assistance under Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program
Agriculture Reform Food and Jobs Act of 2013, S 954
- Farm Bill Homepage
- Farm Bill, S 954 Bill Text (committee print)
- CBO Estimate, S 954
- Statement of Administration Policy in support of S 954
- List of Amendments to S 954 to be considered during floor debate
- Rural Development Amendments supported by NARC in Senate markup:
- Brown Amendment 1 (adopted by voice vote) – Provides USDA Rural Development flexibility to prioritize 20 percent of its funding for projects that are multijurisdictional economic development efforts. Will allow USDA to support collaborative, strategic projects.
- Cowan Amendment 4 (adopted by voice vote) – To authorize direct loans to support production for locally and regionally produced foods. Would support food producers who are engaged in local and regional production, distribution and marketing efforts.
Rural development is a process focused on the economy, communities and people of areas where demographics show a widely dispersed population. Economic and sustainable development is important in non-urbanized areas that typically have a decentralized workforce and are characterized by out-migration. Rural America is largely agricultural, rich in natural resources and uniquely diverse. Regional councils are key players in advancing rural development through innovative and comprehensive strategic planning and alliances with private, public and nonprofit entities.
The Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246), which was last authorized in 2008, is an omnibus bill that combines a total of 15 titles into a single piece of legislation. The bill is subject to the budget restrictions, fiscal constraints and Pay-Go requirements. The farm bill undergoes review and reauthorization roughly every five years.
Title II, the Conservation title, contains 20 programs to protect and restore soils, waterways and wildlife habitats, including incentives to shift environmentally sensitive lands from agriculture to conservation, better manage land under production, and technical assistance to help produces implement measures and meet federal standards. These programs help reduce water and air pollution, soil erosion and loss of wildlife.
Title VI, the Rural Development title, includes nearly 90 programs across 16 federal agencies that provide loans, grants, technical assistance and research for activities that support rural community development, providing for housing, public works systems, business development, etc. According to USDA, in 2005, alone, the business programs under this title created over 73,000 jobs and helped fund new or improved water treatment systems serving over one million consumers.
NARC and its members are in a unique position to expand the regional role in Farm Bill programs and policies to ensure rural prosperity, connectivity and access.