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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

MFAI Supports USDA’s Rural Development Programs

Michael Fields is one of now nearly 600 groups nationally that have signed a letter to House and Senate appropriators, urging them to reject the Trump Administration’s plan to remove the position of Undersecretary for Rural Development as part of the USDA reorganization. The letter also urges appropriators to leave funding for USDA’s rural development programs intact; the Administration’s budget proposes major cuts to these programs. Wisconsin’s rural communities benefit greatly from many USDA Rural Development programs, including the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program; Wisconsin received the highest number of grants awarded last year from this program that helps farmers increase their profitability.

Nationwide, rural communities depend on support from USDA’s Rural Development programs to address basic infrastructure like housing, water, sewer, Internet improvement, and energy efficiency. And Rural Development includes the modestly-funded but mighty ATTRA program, whose user-friendly website, publications, toll-free hotline, and workshops provide research-based practical information on a wide variety of topics.

Despite strong opposition to the reorganization from a broad coalition of community banks, small cities, rural utilities, housing groups, and farming groups, USDA this week announced its determination to proceed with plans to eliminate its Rural Development agency and instead name an assistant to the USDA Secretary for Rural Development – a position with much less influence to support rural communities.