FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2014
RCAP Supports Farm Bill Compromise
Earlier this week, leaders from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees took a major step toward helping rural communities by finalizing negotiations on the long-awaited 5-year Farm Bill. The bipartisan agreement they have put forward is complex and multi-faceted, but one thing is clear: it will provide crucial support for rural communities through its strong Rural Development Title. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) urges Congress and the President to enact this compromise legislation to provide certainty to residents of rural America.
“RCAP thanks the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate for negotiating a compromise on this important bill. It will provide much-needed certainty for rural communities and resources to help rural leaders provide infrastructure, public safety, and other essential services to their communities,” said Robert Stewart, RCAP’s Executive Director.
The conference report contains language requiring USDA to streamline the application process for Rural Development (RD) programs, reducing the red tape that often impedes development in rural communities. It provides $150 million in mandatory funding to help reduce the $2 billion backlog in the water and waste disposal program. These funds will immediately help small towns to provide safe, affordable drinking water and sanitary wastewater to their residents.
The report also includes one of RCAP’s top legislative priorities: H.R. 1632 – the Building Rural Communities Act (BRCA). The BRCA, sponsored by Reps. Steve Southerland (R – Fla.), Mike McIntyre (D – N.C.), Bill Enyart (D – Ill.), Don Young (R – Alaska), Jeff Duncan (R – S.C.), Vicky Hartzler (R – Missouri), Reid Ribble (R – Wis.), Phil Roe (R – Tenn.), Steve Stockman (R – Tex.), Todd Young (R – Ind.), Bob Gibbs (R – Ohio), Raul Labrador (R – Idaho), and David McKinley (R – W. Va.) authorizes technical assistance for USDA-RD’s Essential Community Facilities program, modeled after RD’s successful water and wastewater technical assistance program. The act would help to ensure that the projects are designed, constructed, and operated properly and assure lenders that their investments in these facilities will be repaid on time.
“By expanding the availability of technical assistance for essential community facilities, the Building Rural Communities Act provisions in the Farm Bill will help ensure that rural communities are able to access affordable financing for needed community improvements,” said Stewart. “It will also help ensure that the federal government’s limited resources are used most effectively.”
The House passed the bill 251-166 Wednesday morning, and the Senate is expected to follow shortly.
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The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) network provides technical assistance and training to ensure that small, rural communities have safe, clean drinking water and reliable wastewater systems and assists rural communities with economic development needs. RCAP serves communities throughout the U.S. and its territories, most of which are economically disadvantaged and have a population under 2,500. Visit us on the web at www.rcap.org