Last week, Congress passed the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. the completion of the omnibus is a very significant step toward shifting from repeated continuing resolutions to regular order. The bill increases funding for the Value-Added Producer Grants program, the local and regional food enterprise set aside within the Business and Industry guaranteed loan program, and direct farm ownership and direct operating loans. Unfortunately, it provides no discretionary funding for the Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program. This program has received no money in any of the past three appropriations bills, and is one of the “stranded programs” as a result of Congress’s inability to pass a farm bill. To read more on the 2014 omnibus from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, click here.
The omnibus provides $2.4 billion for Rural Development programs, which is $180 million above the FY 2013 enacted level. These programs help spur economic growth by supporting basic infrastructure, providing loans to rural businesses and industries, and helping strengthen housing markets in rural areas.
Specifically, the omnibus provides $26.1 million for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program ($1 million less than FY 2013 pre-sequestration) including $5.8 million in grants and $2.25 million for a cooperative agreement for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas Program. The bill also includes $15 million in grants for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program (a $1.13 million increase from FY 2013 pre-sequestration) which helps create and expand new bio-based markets and products. To read the Special Report on the 2014 omnibus from the National Association of Counties, click here.