Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rural Action Alert - President's FY 2006 Budget Proposal

--from the desk of Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Congress is about to begin work on a new budget that could kill many community and small business development initiatives, slash soil and water conservation programs, and cut small and medium-size farms.

Or it could preserve funding for critical programs and instead save money through long needed reforms that cap subsidies to mega farms.

The outcome is in our hands. It is a critical time for grassroots citizens to make their voices heard. This is a moment when grassroots calls and action can have a huge impact.

Please take three critical steps to help build a better future for Rural America:

1. Call or write you representatives in Congress. Dial the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for their offices. (If you need your Senators’ and Representative’s names or email addresses, click the following link and enter your zip code: )

Once transferred to the right office, leave a message with the receptionist. Tell them to protect funding for programs that offer a future to rural America – small business development, community development, conservation, and family farm programs. Tell them to cut spending instead by capping payments to mega farms. It's the most effective thing Congress could do to strenghten family farms and it saves money. (See below for background information.)

2. Email this post to everyone who should be interested and ask them to respond. You can email this post by clicking on the envelope icon just to the right of the "comments" link at the end of this post.

3. Please click on to let us know you’ve responded and join our National Rural Action Network. It’s thousands of people nationwide speaking out for small towns, small business, and family farms.

We’ll keep you informed on how this turns out and send our free monthly Newsletter. We’ll alert you to future opportunities to make a difference on critical issues before Congress.

To learn more about us, please click on . To make a donation for this work for Rural America, hit the "Donate Now" button in the top left corner of our web page. If you have questions, write us at

Thank you for your support!
Chuck HassebrookExecutive Director, Center for Rural Affairs

The President’s Budget Proposal

This year’s budget debate was launched by release of the President’s budget proposal. The President’s proposal shapes the debate, but it is just a proposal. Congress largely sets the budget.

The President’s budget proposal would:

>> Cut 1/3 of all federal funding for community development while merging 18 existing programs into one.

>> Eliminate the Small Business Administration Microloan Program. It’s the primary source of assistance for businesses with five or fewer employees, which create most rural jobs.

>> Eliminate rural business development grants from USDA.

>> End the Community Development Block Grant Program.

>> Cut half of funding for Resource Conservation and Development Districts, which play a critical role in rural development.

>> Eliminate over half of farm bill funding for the Value Added Producer Grant Program. It makes grants to producer controlled cooperatives and value added initiatives to capture a larger share of food system profit.

>> Cut over half of funding from the Conservation Security Program, which rewards farmers and ranchers for protecting the environment.

>> Impose an across the board five percent cut in farm program payments, which would hit hard on smaller farms.

On the positive side, the President proposes tightening the cap on payments to mega farms. We support that. The most effective way to strengthen family farms is to stop subsidizing mega farms to drive smaller farms out of business. And it saves money.

The President’s proposal includes tighter rules to prevent one farm from being divided into many farms on paper to avoid the limits. It would also impose a $250,000 cap on some or all payments. Details are sketchy.

The President’s proposal is only a first step. It is estimated to save only $1.2 billion over 10 years, less than one percent of commodity program spending. Aggressive payment limitation reform could save much more. It could take the place of the other cuts the President proposes – cuts that would hurt family farms, the environment, and rural communities.

Center for Rural Affairs
145 Main Street, PO Box 136
Lyons Nebraska
Phone: 402.687.2100
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