Olga Morales Pate Testifies Before House Agriculture Committee on Rural Development Programs, RCAP Farm Bill Priorities
On June 13, Olga Morales Pate, Rural Community Assistance Partnership Incorporated (RCAP) CEO, testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development. Prior to leading RCAP, a nonprofit network serving all 50 states and the U.S. territories, Morales-Pate spent over 19 years working directly with small, rural, and tribal communities. Morales-Pate emphasized the complex needs and challenges that rural communities face. From limited staffing and funding to issues with tracking, advocacy, and scale, each community looks different.
“Our approach is grounded in long-term, trusted relationships with thousands of rural and Tribal communities across the country,” Morales-Pate stated in her testimony. “Last year, RCAP served more than 3.5 million rural and tribal residents in more than 1,650 of the smallest, most distressed communities.”
Morales-Pate also underscored how critical the next Farm Bill is in maintaining these efforts to reach rural communities and partnering with them for success, and called on Congress to take specific actions to ensure the long-term viability of the programs and the communities they serve:
- Reauthorize the Water & Waste Disposal Technical Assistance & Training Grant Program to the maximum amount (Section 306(a)(14)(A) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act 7 U.S.C. 1921 et seq.), set-aside no less than 10% of funding for expanded technical assistance and capacity building. RCAP also requests additional language for emergency response technical assistance to meet the growing need in assisting rural communities recover and rebuild post natural disasters.
- Reauthorize the Solid Waste Management Grant Program (Section 310B of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act) at $10 million a year over five years, create additional flexibility under the program by removing caps on funding
- Reauthorize the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program (Section 306(a)(26) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act), set-aside no less than 10% of funding for national multi-state technical assistance and capacity building and to create additional flexibility under the program by removing caps on funding.
- Authorize a Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program with dedicated resources in the Rural Development Title to support locally driven capacity building and financing for small towns and rural communities across all mission areas of USDA-RD.
- Authorize a Community Facilities Connect Program to provide five-year direct community facilities technical assistance in each state and territory to help underserved rural areas access the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program plus other funding sources.
RCAP thanks the House Agriculture Committee and Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development for holding this timely and critical hearing as we work together on the 2023 Farm Bill. RCAP is firmly committed and stands ready to work with these committees in order to deliver vital assistance to rural people and economies.
Watch the Hearing: