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Rural Development in New Farm Bill?

Rural Development in New Farm Bill?

Will USDA Rural Development programs be cut? National rural leaders are calling for renewed federal commitment to rural development as part of 2012 Farm Bill.

FAQ: I serve as treasurer of our rural water district in southern Iowa. Budget cutters in Washington D.C. are under the gun to reduce federal spending and save Uncle Sam some money. They're questioning whether USDA Rural Development programs should be funded. These programs are a small part of USDA's budget and are very important to the economy in rural areas. Is anyone speaking up in support of USDA rural development efforts?

Answer: Provided by Lenny Eliason, chairman of the national Campaign For A Renewed Rural Development.

National leaders from across the nation are responding to these proposed budget cuts by calling for renewed federal commitment to rural development as part of the 2012 Farm Bill which Congress will write in the coming year.

The Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development on September 29 called on Congress to include a strong and comprehensive Rural Development Title in the 2012 Farm Bill to create jobs and promote economic growth in rural America. The campaign, a diverse coalition of 32 national organizations touching nearly every building block of the U.S. economy, released its legislative priorities to guide lawmakers as they begin work on writing the new Farm Bill. [Senate letter/House letter]

"Federal rural development programs must be significantly enhanced and made a centerpiece of the 2012 Farm Bill if our nation is to strengthen economic competitiveness and improve quality of life in rural America," says Lenny Eliason, president of the National Association of Counties who chairs the campaign.

The campaign sent its recently-released Rural Development Priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The six key priorities outlined in the document fall under the following broad themes:

  • Clarify the Mission of USDA Rural Development
  • Provide Flexibility and Incentives for Regional Collaboration
  • Maintain Rural Development Investments
  • Maintain and Improve Technical Assistance
  • Improve Metrics and Accountability
  • Streamline Application and Reporting Processes

"Our farmers, businesses and entrepreneurs are facing immense global competition," said Eliason, who serves on the Athens County, Ohio Board of Commissioners. "The 2012 Farm Bill offers a timely and appropriate legislative vehicle for Congress and the administration to create jobs and promote economic growth in rural America."

The 32 organizations in the coalition are working individually and collectively to support rural development programs and strategies that promote rural prosperity. The upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization is a key opportunity for Congress and the Administration to work in partnership with communities and local leaders to ensure that federal investments in rural America through USDA Rural Development programs are as effective as possible.

For more information contact Erik Johnston, National Association of Counties legislative director at 202-9424230 or by email at

If you have specific questions or need details on USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency or other appropriate USDA agency office. And be sure to read the regular column of "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" appearing in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at

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