Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research of the House Agriculture Committee - posted on Plowing the Hill - http://www.house.gov/agriculture/democrats/index.shtml
Today (March 30, 2006), the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development, and Research held a hearing to review rural development programs.
Our nation’s vibrant rural communities are full of opportunity. Strong rural communities are supported by individuals and businesses who are committed to their communities and who are active and willing participants in community efforts to undertake positive change.
However, the small size and remoteness of these rural communities can be major roadblocks in rural development efforts. So how do we overcome those factors in generating positive change in rural areas?
My home state of Pennsylvania has one of the largest rural populations in the nation, but only 18 percent of that population is employed in farming or farming-related jobs, a figure that is even lower across the nation. Farming may have once been the mainstay of most rural economies, but that is no longer the case. Rural development now means supporting services to communities that are extremely diverse.
USDA Rural Development plays a critical role in promoting economic development, supporting essential public facilities and services, and helping communities undertake community empowerment programs.
So, although rural development programs have become more important and there are so many needs across the country, I'm concerned that the Administration's budget for Fiscal Year 2007 would result in disproportionate cuts to rural development programs. We have seen less and less money provided for rural development programs during the past several budget cycles.
One major question we need to ask ourselves during the next Farm Bill is how do we protect crucial financial assistance to our rural communities?
If you would like to respond to Representative Holden's question you can by sending an
e-mail to AgricultureDemocrats@mail.house.gov with the subject line Plowing the Hill feedback.
or, as always, feel free to post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Have you signed the Strenthen Rural America Petition yet? You can do so at http://www.cfra.org/nran_endorse.htm - and encourage your friends to do the same.
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.