Tuesday, May 22, 1997
Please call your congressional representatives (House and Senate) and tell
them how upset you are that Congress just cut funding for the Fund for Rural
America by $20 million for this current fiscal year (FY97).
The U.S. House and Senate last evening cut funding for the FRA as a part of
a mid-cycle corrections process that Congress sometimes engages in after the
actual appropriations bills are passed in the fall. The process is called a
Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
This year, Congress cut the Fund as a partial way to make up extreme budget
shortfalls due to disaster relief, nutrition programs, peacekeeping
operations, and other needs. The cuts' biggest impact will be on the $46
million research/ extension competitive grants program, since the Fund had
already spent most of its other program monies.
But remember that this cut is for current funding. Congress is also in the
middle of setting FY98 funding levels. Of course, the Fund actually should
be considered un-cuttable, as it was given "mandatory" funding at $100
million per year for three years in the 1996 Farm Bill. But the reality is
that, with severe budgetary shortfalls all around us, the Fund will almost
certainly be slated for similar (or worse) cuts in FY98.
By contacting your congressional reps to them know how troubled you are by
these cuts, you may help deter future cuts in FY98 or later budget cycles. It
's easy to call: Just dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask
for your member.
The message is simple: "I'm a constituent, and I'm upset that Congress just
cut the Fund for Rural America. Please work to protect its full funding at
$100 million for 1998."
Background Information, or Key Points You May Want to Make:
* America's rural communities are stressed. They need good housing, clean
air and water, and jobs with stable, locally owned businesses that reinvest
in local communities. The Fund for Rural America was created in 1996 to addres
s critical backlogs in rural development programs and to support American
farms and rural communities as part of the transition from traditional
commodity programs legislated in the 1996 Farm Bill.
* The Fund takes a comprehensive, systemic approach to addressing issues
related to agriculture, rural development, and the environment. It has
created considerable excitement in rural communities nationwide, as a chance
to forge new, creative, long-term economic growth opportunities that are
environmentally sound. Indeed, the Fund received over 3,000 proposals to the
research and extension grants program bearing most of the FY97 cut; the cut
severely debilitates the Fund and its ability to respond to this outpouring
* The Farm Bill provided for $100 million per year in mandatory funding for
the Fund, but even before the first year's funding is fully obligated, the
House now proposes to raid it by $20 million to pay for unrelated matters.
This program was key to the Farm Bill's passage, since its provisions speak
to urgent needs in rural America, and should be funded in full.
Thank you for calling this week!