by John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs, email@example.com
In inexplicably good news from Washington, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to provide a total of $48 million for USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants. This is the second year in a row that one house of Congress provided more than was authorized by the farm bill, though last year it was the House rather than the Senate taking.
Spending bills during tight budgetary times can be politically sensitive, so many believe that the process may not be completed until the lame duck session after the election. We hope that proves untrue. In fact, the political sensitivity of election season is a time when rural Americans have an even better chance of standing up for the future of rural America and being heard.
There was a time when, nearly every year, one house of Congress would cut Value-Added Grants to the bone and supporters of the grants would have to work tirelessly to restore funding in the other chamber, and then work tirelessly again to maintain that funding in the House-Senate Conference Committee.
Value-Added Producer Grants have steadily gained popularity, however, because they invest in farmers and ranchers who are tapping into high value markets, or creating new markets, that pay them a premium. And the businesses they form often create decent paying jobs in their rural communities.
Value-Added Producer Grants are the best investment in rural entrepreneurship the federal government makes. We would all do well to let our elected officials know that we support this effort.
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Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.