When I became Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in January of this year, I had one primary goal: to ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers have the policies in place that they need to feed, fuel, and clothe the nation while ensuring stability and consistency for farmers, ranchers, consumers, markets, and rural communities. After all, agriculture is the foundation of our livelihood and the lifeblood of rural America. And, while our work will never be done, we are off to a great start.
Subcommittee Reviews Farm Bill Rural Development Title
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research Chairman Frank Lucas today chaired a hearing to review rural development programs and examine the rural development title of the 2002 Farm Bill. The Agriculture Committee provided an estimated $870 million in the 2002 Farm Bill for programs such as rural broadcast and broadband services, rural strategic investment, and rural business investment as well as value-added market development grants and drinking water assistance grants.
Chairman Lucas noted that the Subcommittee faced many of the same issues they faced when considering the farm bill reauthorization in 2001. “The Committee must decide if it will continue to authorize mandatory spending for rural development programs or whether the programs would be better-served with discretionary funding,” said Chairman Lucas. “That being said, I want to make it very clear that the Appropriations Committee will not be able to increase funding for any programs and it will be up to the constituency groups to work to maintain current funding levels. We must also determine the best ways to implement programs to reach the rural constituency. Additionally, current programs must be fair in meeting the goals of rural development while being flexible enough to meet the needs of a changing rural society.”
The House Committee on Agriculture has held field hearings in North Carolina, Alabama, California, and Nebraska to review federal farm policy and will hold several other field hearings throughout the country to gather producer feedback on current farm policy. The Subcommittee will be largely responsible for putting together the rural development title of the next farm bill in addition to the other issues under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. Chairman Lucas plans on holding several hearings this year and talk with producers about current conservation, credit, rural development, and research programs and policies.
The Subcommittee heard from a wide variety of witnesses including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development, Thomas Dorr, as well as representatives of various rural development agencies and organizations.
A full transcript of the hearing will be available on the Committee website 4-6 weeks following the hearing.
The Honorable Thomas C. Dorr, Under Secretary for Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Russell T. Davis, Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities Programs, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Jackie J. Gleason, Acting Administrator for Business and Cooperative Programs, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. James M. Andrew, Administrator for Utilities Programs, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Chuck Fluharty, Director, Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), Columbia, Missouri
Dr. Mark Drabenstott, Vice President and Director, Center for the Study of Rural America, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri
The Honorable Colleen Landkamer, Commissioner, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, on behalf of National Association of Counties and National Association of Development Organizations, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Mike D. Woods, Professor and Extension Economist, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
The Honorable Cheryl L. Cook, Deputy Secretary for Marketing and Economic Development, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Mr. Arlen Kangas, President, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
Dr. Victor L. Lechtenberg, Vice Provost for Engagement, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana