Congressional appropriators: please fund farm bill programs

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The most recent farm bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in December. However, simply enacting new legislation doesn’t mean Congress’ work is done. We now have to figure out how, and to what extent, these programs are funded.

The farm bill is unique in the sense that it not only provides authorization (creation, continuation, or changes) to policies, programs, and agencies, but can also directly fund those with mandatory dollars.

As a result, some programs have the option to receive funding from two sources: mandatory funding through legislation (the farm bill) and discretionary funding through annual appropriations. This isn’t the case for all programs. Many are authorized to operate by the farm bill, but do not receive mandatory funding. These rely on congressional appropriators to designate funds each year. Without discretionary dollars, these programs cease to function.

For 2020 appropriations, we call on Congress to fund programs that not only help strengthen rural communities, but also improve quality of life for farmers, small business owners, and rural residents.

Those include: Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program; federal working lands conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; Conservation Technical Assistance; Farming Opportunity Training and Outreach, which includes the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers (Section 2501 program) and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program; Rural Business Development Grant program; Local Agriculture Market Program, which includes the Value-Added Producer Grants Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program; Risk Management Education; Community Food Projects; and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

— Cora Fox, policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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