Rural Development Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill

Rural Development Provisions
of the 2008 Farm Bill
Updated September 18, 2008
Tadlock Cowan
Analyst in Natural Resources and Rural Development Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Rural Development Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill
Congress has expressed its concern with rural communities most directly
through periodic omnibus farm bill legislation, most recently in the Food,
Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246). Congress uses periodic farm
bills to address emerging rural issues as well as to reauthorize and/or amend a wide
range of rural programs administered by USDA’s three rural development mission
agencies: Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and Rural
Utilities Service.
Title VI addresses a wide range of policy issues concerning rural America. In
the 2002 farm bill, these issues included provisions such as equity capital
development in rural areas, regional economic planning and development, essential
community facilities, infrastructure needs, value-added agricultural development, and
broadband telecommunications development. The 2008 farm bill considers similar
issues and addresses several new ones. The new farm bill expands broadband access
in rural areas, creates a new micro-entrepreneurial assistance program and a new rural
collaborative investment program, and authorizes three new regional economic
development commissions. The bill also authorizes $120 million for a one-time
funding of pending water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
Several programs authorized with mandatory spending in the 2002 farm bill are
reauthorized with discretionary funding in the new farm bill (Rural Firefighters and
Emergency Personnel, Rural Strategic Investment Program, Rural Business
Investment Program, and the Access to Broadband Services in Rural Areas). The
Value-Added Grants Program, similarly authorized in the 2002 farm bill, is also
reauthorized by P.L. 110-246 with $15 million of mandatory funding and $40 million
of discretionary funding. A side-by-side comparison of House- and Senate-passed
provisions and the 2002 and 2008 farm bills is provided at the end of the report in the
The 2008 farm bill also modifies the 2002 definition of “rural” to include “areas
rural in character.” This modification in the definition of “rural” establishes criteria
for defining rural areas contiguous to urban areas. The bill further directs the
Secretary of Agriculture to produce a report within two years on the various
definitions of “rural” used by USDA in providing assistance. The report will also
assess the impacts these various definitions have on the delivery of rural development
programs with the objective of better targeting assistance where it is most needed.
The 2008 farm bill also reauthorizes and/or amends through FY2012 many long-
standing programs funded through annual appropriations — water and waste disposal
grants, technical assistance for rural water systems, emergency community water
assistance, business opportunity grants, water assistance to Native villages in Alaska,
community facilities for Tribal colleges, distance learning and telemedicince.
This report will be updated.

Policy Background and Overview.................................1
Issues Influencing the Rural Development Title......................2
Federal Rural Development Programs..............................4
Title VI of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008
(P.L. 110-246) ............................................4
New Provisions...........................................4
Other Major Provisions.....................................6
Broadband and Telecommunications...........................6
Rural Utilities Infrastructure.................................6
Business and Community Development........................7
Regional Development......................................8
Appendix: Side-by-Side Comparison of Rural Development Provisions in the
House- and Senate-Passed Farm Bills with the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills.10
Title VI: Rural Development...................................10
Defining Rural Eligibility..................................10
Rural Infrastructure: Water and Waste Disposal.................10
Rural Broadband and Telecommunications Development.........12
Agricultural-Based Rural Economic Development...............15
Regional Economic Development and Planning.................16
Rural Entrepreneurship and Business Investment Programs........17
Community Development Programs..........................19
Other Rural Development Provisions.........................21

Rural Development Provisions of the
2008 Farm Bill
Policy Background and Overview
While farm commodity issues may occupy center stage in policy discussions of
the periodic omnibus farm bills, rural community and economic development are also
topics of congressional concern and a separate title within the farm bill. Since 1973,
omnibus farm bills have included a rural development title. The most recent is Title
VI of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246). Positioning
rural areas to better compete in a global economic environment is one of the key
issues framing the current debate about the future of rural America. When
agricultural production and related businesses dominated rural economies, policies
that strengthened and improved agriculture tended to strengthen and improve the
well-being of most of America’s small communities and rural residents. As the
strength of this linkage has declined, the need for new sources of rural economic
development has become more apparent to policymakers and rural development
Congressional interest in rural policy encompasses a wide range of issues,
including agriculture, forestry, and mining, community infrastructure, natural
resource conservation and management, medical care, bioenergy and economic
development. Current challenges to and reform of existing federal rural policies are
evolving in an environment of increasing concern about economic competitiveness,
a shift away from agriculture toward manufacturing and services, new federal
political strategies, and the emergence of new political interests in farm bill
deliberations. A changing rural America is also producing pressures for different
policies and raising new questions about what Congress’s role should be in shaping
rural policy.
Both agriculture and manufacturing issues are increasingly seen as elements of
global and regional restructuring, which have significant implications for rural areas,
especially those areas where these production sectors remain dominant. Today,
nearly 90% of total farm household income comes from off-farm sources.1
Manufacturing now accounts for about 25% of rural private sector earnings and about
12% of all rural jobs. The service sector, as with the U.S. domestic economy as a
whole, now dominates the rural labor market, although the rural service sector differs
from the metropolitan service sector in terms of job categories, skills, and wages.

1 This figure reflects the significant proportion of small, “life-style” farms whose owners are
not primarily involved in production agriculture. For those farms where agricultural
production is central to the household’s income, the proportion of off-farm income is less.

The rural development title of farm bills generally supports (1) the infrastructure
of rural areas, with traditional assistance for housing, electrical generation and
transmission, water and wastewater, and community capacity, (2) agricultural
development, and (3) rural business creation and expansion. More recently,
policymakers have pushed for programs that support innovative and alternative
business development, and innovative mechanisms to finance it. Pressure for such
alternative approaches is expected to continue as policymakers recognize the
changing structure of agriculture and the great diversity among rural communities,
with some rural areas growing and prospering, and others falling further behind as
their primary industries (including agriculture) either decline or adapt to a global
economy. Such adaptation and dislocation over the past decade has often meant
fewer rural employment opportunities and significant population outmigration for
many rural communities.
To emphasize the importance of agricultural production in the local economies
that still characterize many rural areas, legislative support for technologies to help
farmers with planting decisions and local investments in industries that will add
value to their products have become important aspects of rural development policy.
Research is also increasingly focused on improvements in agricultural waste
management and environmental protections. Traditional strategies, notably value-
added agriculture (e.g., regional food processing plants, cooperatives, organic
farming, biofuels) are being promoted by many in the farm sector. While holding
promise for agriculture and surrounding communities, there remain limits on the
extent to which agriculture and other mature industries can become a significant
engine for renewed rural economic prosperity.
While commodity policy dominates much of the debate and most of the funding,
production agriculture remains a comparatively small and shrinking part of the rural
economy, with less than 8% of the rural population employed in agriculture. There
is growing recognition that farmers in many rural areas depend more on a healthy
rural economy than the rural economy is dependent on farmers for its vitality. The
need to strengthen the capacity of rural areas more generally to compete in a global
economy is becoming more widely appreciated as the limitations of commodity
subsidies, peripheral manufacturing, and physical infrastructure as mainstays of rural
development policy become more obvious.
Issues Influencing the Rural Development Title
Emerging policy issues surround the question of whether current farm policies,
which rely heavily on commodity support payments and subsidies to a few
production sectors, help, hinder, or have little impact on the future development of
economically viable rural communities. Rural manufacturing, which tends to be
lower-skilled and lower-waged, is also undergoing restructuring with the loss of
manufacturing to foreign competition. While transformation to a service economy
continues in rural America, service employment in many rural areas tends to be in
lower-wage personal services rather than business and producer services. Continuing
population and economic decline in many farming and rural areas is compelling
policymakers and rural areas to create new sources of competitive advantage,
innovative ways of providing public services to sparse populations, and new ways of
integrating agriculture into changing rural economies.

More recently, economic development efforts in some areas have targeted
various entrepreneurial strategies and microenterprise development. These
approaches attempt to capitalize on a particular area’s distinctive social, economic,
and environmental assets and advantages to build endogenously on existing local and
regional strengths. Developing a local and regional entrepreneurial culture seems to
be an important approach in these efforts’ successes. Linking public and private
sources to build “business incubators” is a common strategy, as is developing new
commercial ties with area colleges and universities. Communities are also applying
such entrepreneurial energy to making their local governments, schools, and hospitals
more efficient through, for example, telecommunication innovations.
The trends noted above suggest a range of issues that are important in shaping
the provisions of the rural development title of the 2008:
!Conservation and environmental restoration as rural
employment opportunities
!Stemming rural population out-migration
!Vertical integration and coordination of agriculture into
supply networks and their implication for rural areas
!Developing rural entrepreneurial capacity
!Rebuilding an aging rural physical infrastructure
!Public service delivery innovations in sparsely
populated areas
!Increasing suburbanization and the conflicts between
agriculture and suburban development
!Human capital deficiencies in rural areas
!Regional-based efforts for economic development
!Connecting businesses and rural communities with
broadband telecommunications infrastructure
The rural development title of the 2008 farm bill has taken shape against this
backdrop of shifts in the rural economy, widespread and long-term poverty in some
rural areas, outmigration in other rural areas, dwindling economic opportunity in
rural areas, gaps in critical infrastructure, and a growing appreciation in many
quarters of the limits of existing rural development programs to respond to the great
diversity of rural places and socioeconomic circumstances. Such issues give rise to
several policy relevant questions.
!How effective are current federal programs in improving the
competitive position of rural areas?
!Can broad-based federal rural programs be better targeted to the
critical needs of particular rural areas?
!How might regional funding approaches be better integrated into
federal policy for rural areas?
!How can federal policies better assist entrepreneurial efforts in rural
!How might the biofuels emphasis in the upcoming farm bill be
connected to rural development programs?

Federal Rural Development Programs
More than 88 programs administered by 16 different federal agencies target rural
economic development. The Rural Development Policy Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-355),
however, named USDA as the lead federal agency for rural development. USDA
administers most of the existing rural development programs and has the highest
average of program funds going directly to rural counties (approximately 50%).2
Three agencies are responsible for USDA’s rural development mission area: the
Rural Housing Service (RHS), the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), and
the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). An Office of Community Development provides
community development support through Rural Development’s field offices.
It is important to note that most loan and grant programs administered by USDA
Rural Development are funded through annual (discretionary) appropriations. The
rural development title of omnibus farm bills does not address every program
administered by the three USDA mission agencies. These various programs are
“permanently” authorized, often through amendments to the Consolidated Farm and
Rural Development Act of 1972 (the ConAct, P.L. 87-128) or the Rural
Electrification Act of 1936 and are funded through annual appropriations. The 1996
farm bill (P.L. 104-127) authorized the first provision in the rural development title
funded by mandatory spending, the Fund for Rural America, which expired in 2002.
The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) authorized six new programs supported through
mandatory spending. Mandatory funding for most of these programs, however, was
largely blocked by appropriators between 2002 and 2007. Several of the programs
were funded instead through discretionary appropriations, although in amounts less
than the original authorization. The 2008 farm bill has provisions supported by
mandatory spending, although in lesser amounts than were proposed in the House
and Senate-passed versions of the farm bill.
Title VI of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008
(P.L. 110-246)
New Provisions. Several programs authorized in the 2002 farm bill are
reauthorized in the two bills. The Appendix provides a complete side-by-side
comparison of current law with the provisions in the House and Senate bills and the
enacted bill. Unlike the 2002 farm bill, the rural development provisions of P.L. 110-
246 contain only three programs with mandatory funding: Value-Added Product
Grants ($15 million); the Microenterprise Assistance Program ($15 million); and a
one-time funding of pending water and waste water projects ($120 million). Several
programs that were authorized to receive mandatory funding in the 2002 farm bill
were reauthorized in P.L. 110-246 with discretionary funding (e.g., the Rural
Strategic Investment Program and the Rural Firefighters and Emergency Medical
Personnel Program).
Concerns about how effectively USDA targets its rural development loan and
grant assistance have been a recurring consideration by policymakers and rural

2 More information on individual USDA Rural Development programs can be found in CRS
Report RL31837, An Overview of USDA Rural Development Programs.

development practitioners. The general concern is that rural development funding
may not be targeted to the neediest rural communities because of the way rural is
defined. Section 6018 directs the Secretary to assess the varying definitions of
“rural” used by USDA and to describe the effects these different definitions have
on USDA Rural Development programs. The provision directs the Secretary to make
recommendations for ways to better target rural development funds. Section 6018
further establishes a new definition of “areas rural in character” that specifies the
characteristics of eligible rural areas lying within a Bureau of the Census-defined
“urban area.” The provision also permits the Under Secretary for Rural Development
discretion in determining whether individual rural areas should fall under the new
Other new provisions in the rural development title include the following
!Section 6015 authorizes loans and loan guarantees for locally or
regionally produced agricultural food products — those products
that travel less than 400 miles between production and marketing.
Priority is given to projects benefitting underserved communities,
i.e., those with limited access to affordable, healthy foods and with
high rates of poverty or food insecurity.
!Section 6022 authorizes a Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance
Program. The program will provide financial assistance to
microenterprises (sole proprietorships or businesses with fewer than
10 full-time employees). The program will target economically
disadvantaged microentrepreneurs, i.e., those who could compete in
the private sector but have been impaired because of lack of credit
opportunities and limited equity capital options. Grants will be
provided to microenterprise development organizations to support
the development of entrepreneurial activities in rural areas. These
qualified organizations are required to match at least 15% of the
federal grant. Mandatory funding is authorized at $4 million
annually for FY2009-FY2011, $3 million for FY2012, and
discretionary spending at $40 million annually (FY2009-FY2012).
!Sections 6301-6305 establish the Housing Assistance Council
Authorization Act. This authorizes $10 million annually (FY2009-
FY2011) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to
provide financial assistance to the Housing Assistance Council
(HAC) to assist community-based housing development
organizations in undertaking community development and
affordable housing projects in rural areas. The HAC is an
independent, nonprofit organization that has supported local
organizations in rural housing development since 1971.
!Section 6028 authorizes a Rural Collaborative Business
Investment Program and provides $135 million in spending. The
provision would create Regional Investment Strategy Grants,
Rural Innovation Grants, and a Rural Endowment Loan

Program. The provision also directs the Secretary to appoint a
National Rural Investment Board, create a Rural Philanthropic
Institute, and a National Institute on Regional Rural
Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship. The program would
provide rural regions with a financial vehicle to develop and
implement local strategies for innovation.
Other Major Provisions. In addition to these newly authorized programs,
the rural development title also includes other provisions to create or to reauthorize
and/or amend a wide variety of loan and grant programs that provide further
assistance in four key areas: (1) broadband and telecommunications, (2) rural utilities
infrastructure, (3) business and community development, and (4) regional
Broadband and Telecommunications.
!Section 6110 reauthorizes the Access to Broadband
Telecommunications Services in Rural Areas. The program was
originally authorized in the 2002 farm bill (Section 6103) and
funded by mandatory authorization. Its effectiveness, however, was
limited by difficulties in implementation. The provision makes
changes in defining eligible rural communities, makes provisions for
prioritizing loans, and reduces equity requirement on broadband
providers offering service to unserved areas. Appropriations are
authorized at $25 million annually (FY2008-FY2012). The provision
also requires annual reporting on the extent of participation in the
loan and loan guarantee program. The measure further authorizes
the Secretary to designate a National Center for Rural
Telecommunications Assessment and authorizes discretionary
funding for the center at $1 million annually (Section 6111).
!Section 6201 reauthorizes the Distance Learning and
Telemedicine Loan and Grant Program, which provides funding
to educational and medical facilities. The provision will also
emphasize library connectivity as an objective of program funding.
!Section 6112 authorizes a Comprehensive Rural Broadband
Strategy. The provision directs the Secretary of Agriculture to
develop a comprehensive strategy for enhancing broadband service
to rural areas.
Rural Utilities Infrastructure.
!Section 6001 reauthorizes Water, Waste Disposal and Wastewater
Facility Grants through 2012. Discretionary funding is provided
under the utilities account of Rural Community Advancement
Program (RCAP). This is the largest program in the RCAP
portfolio. Section 6011 amends the current interest rate schedule for
water and waste water loans by setting rates to a proportion of a
municipal bond index. .

!Section 6006 reauthorizes the Rural Water and Wastewater
Circuit Rider Program, which provides technical assistance to
rural water systems. Funding is authorized at $25 million annually
!Section 6008 reauthorizes the Emergency and Imminent
Community Water Assistance Grant Program, which provides
funding to rural communities facing threats to the provision of
potable water. It is also funded under the utilities account of RCAP.
!Section 6009 reauthorizes Water Systems for Rural and Native
Villages in Alaska. This provision targets funding under the
utilities account of RCAP for Alaskan native communities.
!Section 6008 reauthorizes grants to nonprofit organizations for the
construction and refurbishing of household well water systems.
The program targets well systems for low-income individuals in
rural areas.
!Section 6029 provides $120 million in mandatory funding for
Pending Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Applications.
This would be a one-time expenditure designed to remove some of
the current backlog of applications.
Business and Community Development.
!Section 6003 reauthorize Rural Business Opportunity Grants,
which are used for economic planning and technical support and
training for rural businesses.
!Section 6007 reauthorize Tribal College and University Essential
Community Facilities through 2012. This program targets funding
under the Community Facilities Program, an RCAP account, to
tribal facilities. Essential facilities include those that support public
safety infrastructure and provide community health care.
!Section 6013 reauthorizes Rural Cooperative Development
Grants. This provision permits multi-year grants (up to three years)
for awards to rural cooperative centers. It provides a 20% set-aside
for rural centers working with socially disadvantaged communities
when the appropriation level exceeds $7.5 million.
!Section 6016 reauthorizes the Appropriate Technology Transfer
for Rural Areas Program (ATTRA). The program supports a
cooperative agreement between the Rural Business-Cooperative
Service and the University of Arkansas to provide information and
technical support for sustainable and organic agricultural production.
authorize $5 million annually.

!Section 6204 reauthorizes the Rural Firefighters and Emergency
Medical Service Assistance Program. Originally authorized by the
2002 farm bill, the measure provides grants to enable entities to
provide improved emergency medical assistance in rural areas. It
also provides grants to pay the cost of training emergency personnel
to respond to hazardous materials and bioagents in rural areas.
Unlike the 2002 farm bill, which provided mandatory funding, the
provision is authorized for discretionary funding up to $30 million
annually (FY2008-FY2012).
!Section 6202 reauthorizes the Value-Added Agricultural Market
Development Program. This provision targets funding for “mid-
tier value chains” which are local and regional supply networks
linking independent producers with businesses and cooperatives.
It also reserves 10% of the Value-Added Products Grants for
projects benefitting beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and
ranchers. Mandatory funding is authorized at $15 million to be
available until expended. An additional $40 million annually
(FY2008-FY2012) in discretionary funding is also authorized. The
measure also prioritizes loans that contribute to opportunities for
beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or
ranchers, and small and medium-size family farms.
!Other provisions include $2 million annually (FY2008-FY2012) in
grants to nonprofit organizations for Expansion of Employment
Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities in Rural Areas
(Section 6023). Section 6027 reauthorizes the Rural Business
Investment Program through 2012. This program was authorized
in the 2002 farm bill and given mandatory spending. The
reauthorization provides a total of $50 million.
Regional Development.
!Section 6025 reauthorizes the Delta Regional Authority, a
federal-state partnership serving a 240-county/parish area in an
eight-state region of the Mississippi delta. Section 6024 authorizes
$3 million annually (FY2008-FY2012) for grants to support health
care services, health education programs, health care job training
programs, and development and expansion of public health-related
facilities in the Delta region.
!Section 6026 reauthorizes the Northern Great Plains Regional
Authority (NGPRA), which covers Iowa, North and South Dakota,
Minnesota, and Nebraska. The provision authorizes the NGPRA to
organize and operate without a federal member if no such individual
is nominated within 180 days of enacting the bill. The provision
also eliminates prioritization of activities to be funded by the
program and the requirement that 75% of the authority’s funding go
to “distressed counties and isolated areas.”

!Section 6206 directs the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination
with the Secretary of Transportation, to conduct a Study of Rural
Transportation Issues regarding the movement of agricultural
products, renewable fuels, and economic development in rural
!While not a provision of Title VI, Section 14217 authorizes the
creation of three new regional economic development and
infrastructure commissions: (1) the Northern Border Regional
Commission; (2) the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission;
and (3) the Southwest Border Regional Commission. Funding is
authorized at $30 million annually (FY2008-FY2012) for each

Appendix: Side-by-Side Comparison of Rural Development Provisions in the
House- and Senate-Passed Farm Bills with the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills
Farm Security and RuralFarm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy ActFood and Energy Security Act of
Investment Act of 2002” [7 U.S.C.of 2007” [Sec. 1]2007” [Sec. 1]
7901 note]
Defining Rural Eligibility
Sec. 343(a) of the ConsolidatedDirects USDA to submit a report toCreates a standard definition of ruralAdopts the Senate provision but
Farm and Rural Development Actthe Agriculture Committees: (1)area that excludes (1) cities ofdeletes the housing density criterion
(Con Act), as amended, defines ruralassessing the varying definitions of50,000 or more, (2) any urbanizedfrom the definition ofrural.”
as any area other than a city or townrural used by USDA; (2) describingarea contiguous and adjacent to aPermits USDA to include “areas
iki/CRS-RL34126with a population greater than50,000 and the urbanized areathe effect of varying definitions onUSDAs programs; and (3)city of 50,000 or more, and (3) anycollection of contiguous censusrural in character” if meet certainnon-urban criteria (excluding
g/wcontiguous and adjacent to such arecommending changes to betterblocks with a specific housingHonolulu, HI, and San Juan, PR).
s.orcity or town. [7 U.S.C. 1991(a)] target funds through ruraldensity, or adjacent to a city ofDoes not change eligibility for water
leakdevelopment programs. [Sec. 6001]50,000 or urban area. [Sec. 6020]and waste water funding. [Sec.
://wiki 6018]
httpNo comparable provision.Authorizes USDA to review socio-No comparable provision.Deletes the House provision.
economic variables as factors in
awarding rural development loans
and grants, and to issue regulations.
[Sec. 6014]
Rural Infrastructure: Water and Waste Disposal
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through 2012. [Sec.Reauthorizes through 2012. [Sec.Reauthorizes through 2012. [Sec.
Act to authorize USDA to make6002] 6001] 6001]

water and wastewater grants for
development projects for the storage,
treatment, purification, or
distribution of water or the
collection, treatment, or disposal of
waste in rural areas. Authorizes $30
million in annual appropriations for
FY2002-07.[7 U.S.C.

The Con Act, as amended, setsNo comparable provisionSenate provision establishes interestAdopts the Senate provision. [Sec.
interest rate levels not to exceedrates for water and waste water loans6011]
current market yields for outstandingbased on a market index of loans to
municipal obligations. Low-incomeensure that interest rates for
rural residents receive interest ratesintermediate and poverty rate loans
below this maximum level. [7 U.S.C.are tied to the current market rate.
1927 (a)(3) (A)]The poverty rate is set at 60% of the
market rate and the intermediate rate
is set at 80% of the market rate.
[Sec. 12602]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through 2012,Reauthorizes through 2012,Adopts the House provision. [Sec.
Act to authorize appropriations for aauthorizing $25 million for FY2008.authorizing $20 million for FY2008.6006]
water/wastewater circuit rider[Sec. 6004] [Sec. 6004]
iki/CRS-RL34126program, providing technical
g/wassistance based on a National RuralWater Association program. [7
s.orU.S.C. 1926(a)(22)(C)]
leakAuthorizes appropriations of $15
://wikimillion for FY2003 and each yearthereafter.
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012. Reauthorizes through FY2012. Reauthorizes through FY2012.
Act to authorize USDA to provide[Sec. 6006][Sec. 6011][Sec. 6008]
Emergency and Imminent
Community Water Assistance Grants
to rural areas and small communities
comply with the Water Pollution
Control Act or Safe Drinking Water
Act. [7 U.S.C. 1926a(i)(2)]
Authorizes an appropriation of $35
million annually for FY2003-07.
No comparable provision.No comparable provision.Provides $135 million in mandatoryAdopts the Senate provision.
spending for pendingProvides $120 million in mandatory
water/wastewater loans, grants andspending. [Sec.6029]

emergency community assistance
grants, to be available until
expended. [Sec. 6033]

The Con Act, as amended, authorizesReauthorizes through FY2012. Reauthorizes through FY2013.Adopts the House provision with an
USDA to make grants for water[Sec. 6007]Amends program to provide grantsamendment to provide $1.5 million
systems for rural and native villagesto the Denali Commission for solidannually FY2008-2012 to the Denali
in Alaska. Authorizes appropriationswaste management and for ruralCommission for solid waste
of $30 million annually for FY2001-drinking water sites in Alaska (notmanagement. [Sec. 6009]
07. [7 U.S.C. 1926d(d)(1)]more than 5% of total program
funding). [Sec. 6012]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012.Reauthorizes through FY2012. Adopts the House provision with
Act to authorize USDA to makeAmends program to authorize USDA[Sec. 6013] amendment striking consideration of
grants to private nonprofits for loansto make grants to private non-profitsmatching funds and increasing the
to eligible low-income individuals tofor loans to eligible low-incomeassistance limit for each well from
construct, refurbish, and serviceindividuals. $8,000 to $11,000. [Sec. 6010]
household water well systems in[Sec. 6008]
rural areas (giving priority to certain
applicants). Authorizes
iki/CRS-RL34126appropriations of $10 million
g/wannually for FY2003-07. [7 U.S.C.
leakNo comparable provision.No comparable provisionAmends the ConAct to authorizeDeletes Senate provision.
://wikigrants to develop wells in isolatedrural areas. Provides $10 million
httpannually FY2008-2012. [Sec. 6013]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConNo comparable provision.Reauthorizes SEARCH grants andAdopts Senate provision. [Sec. 6002]
Act to establish a SEARCH grantamends program. Provides up to 4%
program, providing technicalof funds available for water, waste
assistance for water and wastedisposal, and essential community
disposal facilities. [7 U.S.C. 2009ee]facilities to financially distressed
communities. Directs USDA to
develop a simplified application for
applicants. [Sec. 6010]
Rural Broadband and Telecommunications Development
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes grants throughReauthorizes grants throughReauthorizes grants through
Act to authorize grants to acquireFY2012. FY2012. [Sec. 6026] FY2012. [Sec. 6021]

radio transmitters to increase rural[Sec. 6018]
coverage by all-hazards weather
radio broadcasts of the National

Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. Authorizes
appropriation of such sums as
needed for FY2002-07. [7 U.S.C.
The 2002 farm bill amended theReauthorizes through FY2012.Reauthorizes through FY2012.Adopts the Senate provision with
Rural Electrification Act (REA) ofRedefines eligibility and prioritizesRedefines eligibility and prioritizesmodifications. Permits assistance to
1936 [7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.] byloan applications to areas based onloan applications. Prohibits loans toareas with more than 3 providers
authorizing USDA to provide loansnumber of service providers. areas served by 3 or more providers. under certain conditions. Gives
and loan guarantees for the costs ofAmends definition of rural area. Authorizes $25 million annuallyhighest priority to applicants serving
providing broadband service to ruralLimits loan terms to 35 years.(FY2008-12). Authorizes a Nationalthe most rural residents. Prohibits
areas, as part of the Enhancement ofExtends authority to provide loans toCenter for Ruraleligibility to providers res serving
Access to Broadband Service inFY2012. Authorizes a NationalTelecommunications Assessmentmore than 20% of the market.
Rural Areas provisions. [7 U.S.C.Center for Ruraland authorizes $1 million inPermits USDA to require cost-share
950bb]Telecommunications Assessmentappropriations annually. [Sec. 6110] funding. [Sec. 6110]
iki/CRS-RL34126and authorizes $1 million inEstablishes which areas are eligibleAdopts House and Senate measure to
g/wappropriations annually. [Sec. 6023]for REA assistance. [Sec. 6105]authorizes National Center for Rural
s.orTelecommunications. [Sec. 6111].
leakAdopts Senate provision definingREA eligibility. Eligible rural areas
://wikiexclude town of 20,000 or more.[Sec. 6104]
Sec. 601(a) et seq. of the REA, asAuthorizes the Community ConnectAuthorizes the Connect the NationDoes not adopt either provision.
amended, authorizes USDA toGrant Program to provide broadbandAct and creates a competitive
provide loans and loan guarantees toservice for education, public safety,matching grant program to
electric utilities to serve customers inand health care in rural areas. encourage state initiatives for public-
rural areas. [7 U.S.C. 950bb(b)]Authorizes appropriations of $25private partnerships [Sec. 6201] and
million annually (FY2008-12). [Sec.authorizes grants to encourage state
6024]initiatives [Sec. 6202] to provide
broad-band service to rural areas.
Authorizes appropriations of $40
million annually (FY2008-12).
Sec. 2333 of the 1990 farm billReauthorizes the grant program toReauthorizes appropriations throughAdopts the Senate provision with
(Food, Agriculture, Conservation,assist rural public television stationsFY2012. Amends provision: (1)modifications that only libraries are
and Trade Act, P.L. 101-624)in making the transition from analogadds library connectivity and publicadded as eligible entities. Makes
provides grants to non-commercialto digital broadcast equipment. [Sec.television station digital conversionpublic television stations eligible for
television that serve rural areas. [76028] Reauthorizes Telemedicineinto the notification; (2) speciesfunding for high-speed
U.S.C. 950aaa-2] Also, Sec. 2335Aand Distance Learning Services inrequirements on how financialtelecommunications for educational

authorizes Telemedicine andRural Areas through FY2012. [Sec.assistance is to be used and criteriaprogramming in rural areas. [Sec.
Distance Learning Services in Rural6029]for prioritizing; (3) requires USDA6201]
Areas by providing loans/grants toto notice the amount of financial
schools and medical facilities forassistance available to applicants,
telecom technologies. [7 U.S.C.among other provisions. Renames
950aaa5]program the Telemedicine, Library
Connectivity, Public Television, and
Distance Learning in Rural Areas,
and reauthorizes through FY2012.
[Sec. 6302]
The Con Act, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision.Reauthorizes through FY2012. [Sec.Reauthorizes through FY2012
appropriations for grants for6016][Sec. 6014]
broadcasting systems, funded at $5
million annually (FY2002-07). [7
U.S.C. 1932(f)]
g/wNo comparable provision. Directs USDA to prepare a reportthat develops a comprehensiveDirects the Federal CommunicationsCommission, in coordination withAdopts the Senate provision. Requires an update of the report in
s.ornational broadband strategy. [Sec.USDA, to submit a report tothe third year following enactment.
leak6031]Congress describing a[Sec. 6112] Adopts Senate provision
://wikicomprehensive rural broadbandstrategy. [Sec. 6111] Instructs thestriking an obsolete reference to dial-up Internet and place the provision in
httpU.S. Comptroller General of toa separate section. [Sec. 6005].
conduct a study of the Rural UtilitiesDeletes the Senate provision for a
Service administration and ofGAO study.
Federal assistance for broadband
programs, with recommendations.
[Sec. 6113]
The 2002 farm bill amended theReauthorizes through FY2012. [Sec.Reauthorizes through FY2012.Adopts the Senate provision with
REA to authorize USDA to expand6022] Expands eligibility to emergencymodifications to make emergency
911 access and make telephone loanscommunication providers.communication equipment providers
for rural emergency services. [7Authorizes USDA to use funds madeeligible for loans. [Sec. 6107]

U.S.C. 940e]available for telephone or broadband
loans; requires USDA promulgate
regulations [Sec. 6107]

Agricultural-Based Rural Economic Development
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConEstablishes new criteria for loans andSimilar to the House bill, but also:Adopts the Senate provision with
Act to authorize appropriations forloan guarantees, directing USDA todefines “under-served community;modifications that extend the
direct and guaranteed loans for ruralfavor projects that supportestablishes priorities for projects thatdistance a product can travel and be
business development. [7 U.S.C.local/regionally producedsupport community development andeligible. Defines “underserved
1926(a)(11)(D)] agricultural products. [Sec. 6010]marketing, distributing, storing,community” and gives priority to
aggregating, or processing a locally-entities providing products to these
produced product; sets a per-facilitycommunities.
limit of up to $250,000 in loan/loan[Sec. 6015]
guarantees to modify/update
facilities; and requires USDA to
submit an annual report to Congress.
[Sec. 6017]
No comparable provision. Authorizes appropriations forSimilar to the House bill. [Sec. 6018]Adopts the Senate provision with
iki/CRS-RL34126Appropriate Technology Transfer forminor changes to elaborate on the
g/wRural Areas at $5 million annually(FY2008-12). [Sec. 6011] purpose of the program. [Sec. 6016]
leakNo comparable provision. No comparable provision. Establishes Artisanal Cheese CentersDeletes the provision.
://wikito provide educational technicalassistance to eligible cheese
httpmanufacturing and marketing
businesses. [Sec. 6023]
Sec. 231 of the Agricultural RiskAuthorizes $6 million subject toExpands the definition of value-Adopts the Senate provision with
Protection Act of 2000 [7 U.S.C.appropriations annually (FY2008-added products. Reduces themodification. Reserves 10% of funds
1621], as amended by the 2002 farm12). [Sec. 6027]maximum grant amount to $300,000.for projects benefitting beginning
bill, authorizes USDA to make[Sec. 6401]farmers and ranchers and socially
Value-Added Agricultural Productdisadvantaged farmers and ranchers,
Development Grants to assistand 10% of funds for projects to
agricultural producers to establishdevelop mid-tier value chains.
businesses to produce value-addedProvides $15 million in mandatory
agricultural products, and providefunding. [Sec. 6202]

for technical assistance and planning.

No comparable provision. No comparable provision.Amends the Con Act to provideAdopts the Senate provision with
reimbursement payments totechnical changes. [Sec. 1621]
geographically disadvantaged
farmers (e.g., AK, HI) for costs
associated with transporting or
producing an agricultural
commodity. [Sec. 6021]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012 andSimilar to the House bill; alsoAdopts the House provision with
Act authorizing a program to restoregives priority to projects thatestablishes a grant may be made fortechnical changes. [Sec. 6020]
historic barns. [7 U.S.C. 2008o(c)] identify, document, and conductprojects that rehabilitate or repair
research on historic barns andhistoric barns; preserve historic
develop and evaluate appropriatebarns; and identify, document,
techniques or best practices forsurvey, and conduct research on
protecting historic barns. [Sec. 6017]historic barns/structures. [Sec. 6025]
iki/CRS-RL34126The 2002 farm bill authorized anReauthorizes the program andNo comparable provision Adopts the House provision.
g/wAgricultural Innovation CenterDemonstration program. [7 U.S.C.provides $6 million annually(FY2008-12). [Sec. 6203]
s.or1621] [Sec. 6025]
://wikiRegional Economic Development and Planning
httpThe Con Act, as amended, authorizesReauthorizes appropriations throughReauthorizes appropriations throughAdopts the House provision with
a Delta Regional Authority,FY2012. [Sec. 6019]FY2012; amends program to allowmodifications. Adds counties to be
providing funds for 240 counties in 8for grants for health care facilityeligible. [Sec. 6025] Establishes
states in Mississippi Delta. [7 U.S.C.development. [Sec. 6029]separate Health Care Services
2009aa-1]section and defines eligibility to
mean Mississippi River Delta region.
[Sec. 6024]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConAmends program to eliminateEliminates requirement of a federalAdopts the Senate provision with
Act authorizing the Northern Greatprioritization of activities to bemember of the commission, unlessmodifications. Requires the
Plains Regional Authority to makefunded. Modifies federal share ofappointed. Broadens list of eligibleCommission to coordinate with tribal
grants and loans and implement aadministrative expenses. Eliminatesorganizations. Provides assistance toleaders if no federal co-chair is
regional development plan. [7Isolated Areas of Distressstates in providing regional plans fornames. Defines organizations that
U.S.C. 2009bb-1] designation. [Sec. 6020]renewable energy and transportation. may serve in the capacity of federal
[Sec. 6030]co-chair. [Sec. 6026]

No comparable provision.No comparable provision.Amends the Con Act to authorize aAdopts Senate provision. Authorizes
new Northern Border Economic3 additional regional commissions:
Development Commission (VT, NY,Northern Border Regional
NH, and ME); authorizesCommission; Southeast Crescent
appropriations of $40 millionRegional Commission; Southwest
annually (FY2008-12). [Sec. 6034]Border Regional Commission.
Provides $30 million to each
FY2002-2012. [ Sec. 14217]
The Con Act, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision.Reauthorizes through FY2012. Deletes the Senate provision.
grants to multi-jurisdictional regional[Sec. 6005]
planning and development
organizations; $30 million annually
through FY2007. [7 U.S.C.
iki/CRS-RL34126The Con Act, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision.Directs USDA to continue RuralAdopts the Senate provision.
g/wloans and grants for business andcommunity development. [7 U.S.C.Economic Area Partnership Zones(NY, ND, and VT) with areas of[Sec. 6017]
s.or1932] high unemployment/poverty. [Sec.
leak 6019]
://wikiNo comparable provision. Directs USDA, in coordination withNo comparable provision.Adopts the Senate provision.
httpthe Department of Transportation, to[Sec. 6206]
prepare a report on railroad issues
regarding the movement of
agricultural products, renewable
fuels, and economic development.
[Sec. 6032]
Rural Entrepreneurship and Business Investment Programs
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012. Similar to the House bill. [Sec.Adopts the Senate provision.
Act to authorize USDA to make[Sec. 6003] 6002][Sec. 6003]

Rural Business Opportunity Grants
for business development or labor
training in rural areas. Authorizes
appropriations of $15 million
annually through FY2007.
[7 U.S.C. 1926(a)(11)]

The Con Act, as amended, authorizesAuthorizes USDA to give preferenceSimilar to House bill. Allows USDAAdopts the Senate provision with
appropriations for grants toto grant applications that establishto award multi-year grants tominor modifications. [Sec. 6013]
cooperative development centers. [7centers for rural cooperativeprograms as deemed by the
U.S.C. 1932(e)(5)]development that demonstrateSecretary; establishes a cooperative
specified requirements. Authorizesresearch program; and creates a
$50 million annually (FY2008-12). reserve for socially disadvantaged
[Sec. 6009]communities. [Sec. 6015]
No comparable provision.Authorizes a new Rural EntrepreneurAuthorizes a new RuralAdopts the House provision with
and Microenterprise AssistanceMicroenterprise Assistance Program,modifications. Provides $15 million
Program. Authorizes $20 millionwith mandatory spending of $40in mandatory funding. [Sec. 6022]
annually (FY2008-12). [Sec. 6013]million for FY2008, available until
expended. [Sec. 6022]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConLimits discretionary funding of notAuthorizes a new RuralAdopts the Senate provision with
Act, authorizing the Rural Strategicmore than $25 million annuallyCollaborative Investment Program,modifications to include adding rural
iki/CRS-RL34126Investment Program, providing anFY2008-2012. Adds planning grantwith mandatory spending of $135heritage as a goal of the program.
g/wequity generating program for ruralbusiness development modeled oneligibility forrural heritage sites.” [Sec. 6021]million for grants and administrativeactivities. [Sec. 6032]Authorizes $135 million indiscretionary funds for the period
s.orthe Small Business InvestmentFY2009-2012.
leakCompanies of the Small Business[Sec. 6028]
://wikiAdministration. [7 U.S.C. 2099dd etseq.]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConNo comparable provision. Reauthorizes through FY2012, withAdopts the Senate provision with
Act, authorizing the Rural Businessmodifications: debentures may bemodifications. Removes provision
Investment Program to makeprepaid at any time; distributionsallowing distributions to cover tax
loans/grants through regionalmay be made to cover tax liability;liability. Limits on funding from
investment boards. USDA fees are limited to ancertain financial institutions is raised
[7 U.S.C. 2009cc-5]application fee of $500; and USDAto 25%. [Sec. 6027]

will not be required to operate the
program with other federal agencies.
[Sec. 6031]

Community Development Programs
The 2002 farm bill authorizes grantsReauthorizes the Rural FirefightersNo comparable provision.Adopts the House provision with
for units of general localand Emergency Personnel Grantminor modifications. [Sec. 6204]
government, Indian tribes, to pay theProgram, appropriations up to $30
cost of training firefighters andmillion annually (FY2008-12).
emergency medical personnel. [7Expands the types of eligible
U.S.C. 1621]entities. [Sec. 6026]
The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012. [Sec.Reauthorizes through FY2012. [Sec.Adopts the provision. [Sec. 6019]
Act to authorize the National Rural6016]6024]
Development Partnership, a state-
federal partnership of community
rural development entities. [7 U.S.C.
2008m ]
iki/CRS-RL34126The 2002 farm bill amended the ConAct to authorize loans and grants forNo comparable provision.Authorizes $40 million in mandatoryspending for loans, grants, and loanAdopts the Senate provision, butspecifies that the program not
g/wessential community facilities”guarantees to construct child dayreceive mandatory funding. [Sec.
s.or(incl. child day care). [7 facility grants. [Sec. 6003]6004]
://wikiThe Con Act, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision Reserves 0.5% of the funds forDeletes the Senate provision.
httpthe Community Facility Grantscommunity facilities to eligible
Program, limited to $10 million perentities located in freely associated
fiscal year for grants to localstates or outlying areas as defined in
governments, nonprofits, and Indianthe Elementary and Secondary
tribes to provide the federal share ofEducation Act of 1965. [Sec. 6008]
the cost of developing specific
essential community facilities
authorizes funds for essential
community facilities. [7 U.S.C.
1926(a) 19]
The Con Act, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision Amends to give priority forDeletes the Senate provision

funds for essential communitycommunity facility projects that are
facilities; the maximum amount of acarried out with a non-Federal share
community facility grant cannotof funds that is substantially greater
exceed 75% of the project costs. [7than the minimum requirement, as
U.S.C. 1926(a) 19B]determined by USDA regulation.
[Sec. 6009]

The 2002 farm bill amended the ConReauthorizes through FY2012.Reauthorizes through FY2012.Adopts the House provision.
Act to authorize USDA to provideAmends program to direct USDA toIncreases the maximum federal grant [Sec. 6007]
cost-share grants to tribal collegesestablish a maximum percentage oftribal colleges and universities
and universities for developingthe cost of a facility covered by areceive for the cost of developing
essential community facilities ingrant. Caps non-federal support toessential community facilities in
rural areas and universities, asno more than 5% of the facilitysrural areas to 95%. [Sec. 6007]
defined in the Higher Education Acttotal cost. [Sec. 6005]
of 1965 for developing essential
community facilities in rural areas.
Authorizes $10 million in annual
appropriation for FY2003-07. [7
No comparable provision.No comparable provision Makes technical changes to addressAdopts the Senate provision with
funding for cooperativetechnical changes. [Sec. 6012]
organizations by allowing for
iki/CRS-RL34126business guarantees of loans. [Sec.
g/w 6014]
s.orNo comparable provision.No comparable provision.Provides grants to expand ruralAdopts the Senate provision with
leakemployment opportunities forminor changes. [Sec. 6023]
://wikiindividuals with disabilities. Authorizes $2 million annually
http(FY2008-12). [Sec. 6028]
The Con Act authorizes grants toNo comparable provision. Reauthorizes through FY2012. [Sec.Deletes the Senate provision.
train farm workers in new6027]
technologies and in specialized skills
for higher value crops; authorizes
appropriations of $10 million
annually through FY2007 [7 U.S.C.
No comparable provision. Amends the Con Act to authorizeAuthorizes loans and loan guaranteesDeletes both House and Senate
grants to improve the technicalto improve the technicalprovisions.

infrastructure of rural health careinfrastructure of rural health care
facilities at $30 million annuallyfacilities. Provides $50 million in
(FY2008-12). Identifies types ofmandatory spending (with at least
eligible rural health facilities. [Sec.$25 million for hospitals with less
6012]than 50 acute care beds). [Sec.

No comparable provision. No comparable provision.Authorizes the Secretary of HousingAdopts the Senate provision with
and Urban Development to providemodifications to permit GAO to use
financial assistance forprivate audits for review of the
community-based housingHousing Assistance Council. [Secs.
development entities and affordable6301-6305]
housing projects, and other
requirements. Authorizes
appropriations of $10 million
(FY2008); $15 million annually
(FY2009-10). [Secs. 6501-6505]
Other Rural Development Provisions
The REA, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision.Insertsefficiency and” beforeAdopts the Senate provision
USDA to make loans for ruralconservation;” makes technicalauthorizing energy efficiency
electrification and telephone serviceschanges to loan and grants forprogram. [Sec. 6101]. Deletes
iki/CRS-RL34126and to assist borrower inelectric generation; establishes feesprovision for loans and grants for
g/wimplementing improvements toelectrical and telephone service. [7for baseload generation loanguarantees; defers loan payments forelectric generation. [Sec. 6102].Deletes Senate provision on fees for
s.orU.S.C. 901 et seq.]improved energy efficiency; definesloan guarantees, but requires a study
leakrural” and “farm for borrowingof electric generating needs in rural
://wikieligibility; and specifies proceduresfor borrowers. [Secs. 6101-6104;areas. [Sec. 6113]. Adopts Senateprovision to allow energy audits.
http6109][Sec. 6104]. Makes technical
changes for certain financing.
The REA, as amended, authorizesReauthorizes through FY2012. [SecSimilar to the House bill, but limitsAdopts the Senate provision. [Sec.
USDA to issue bonds for rural6030]guarantees to no more than $1 billion6106]
electrical generation or telephoneand establishes technical provisions
purposes. [7 U.S.C. 940c-1(f)]for bond guarantees. [Sec. 6106]
The REA, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision. Definesqualified energy source”Adopts the Senate provision with
USDA to make loans for electricaland permits loans for electricalmodifications. Definesrenewable
generation in rural areas. [7 U.S.C.generation from renewable sourcesenergy source.” [Sec. 6108]

940f] sold to non-rural residents at sets
loan rates. [Sec. 6108]

The REA, as amended, authorizesNo comparable provision. Defines “substantially underservedAdopts the Senate provision with
USDA to make exceptions fortrust areas” and to authorize USDAmodifications. [Sec. 6105]
electrification borrowers to relieveto make loan rates as low as 2% to
them of regulatory requirements. [7qualified utilities serving these areas.
U.S.C. 936e][Sec. 6112]
Title III of the REA establishesNo comparable provisionRequires the Rural Utility ServiceAdopts the Senate provision
agency funding procedures for direct(RUS) follow new procedures inregarding bonding requirements and
loans and loan guarantee. [7 U.S.C.dealing with borrowers. Allowsstrikes the other provisions. [Sec.
940-c 1]USDA to adjust population6109]
limitations related to digital mobile
wireless service; requires USDA to
review bonding requirements for all
programs administered by RUS. [Sec
iki/CRS-RL34126The 1990 farm bill, as amended,No comparable provision.Reauthorizes through FY2012. Deletes the Senate provision.
g/wauthorizes a rural electroniccommerce extension program to[Sec. 6301]
s.orprovide assistance to rural
leakbusinesses. [7 U.S.C. 59239e]
://wikiThe Housing Act of 1949, asNo comparable provision.Amends program to includeAdopts the Senate provision.
httpamended, authorizes a loan and grantaquacultural workers. [Sec. 6420][Sec. 6205]

program to provide housing
construction and assistance to farm
labor. [42 U.S.C. 1484(f)(3)]