Farm bill proposals continue to move forward in the House as the Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture approved proposals under its jurisdiction Wednesday.
The draft includes an outline of the Rural Development title and peanut and sugar programs as well as three new amendments.
The Subcommittee approves reauthorization of USDA Rural Development programs that help to finance important rural infrastructure such as public water and waste disposal systems. The draft changes program eligibility requirements to improve access to broadband telecommunications services in rural areas, and would also establish a National Center for Rural Telecommunications Assessment.
Three amendments were approved for Rural Development:
- Chairman McIntyre Amendment on criteria to be applied in considering applications for rural development projects.
- Congressman John Salazar Amendment on comprehensive rural broadband strategy.
- Congressman John Barrow Amendment on technology transfer for rural areas.
The draft also reauthorizes the peanut program, including an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill's direct and counter-cyclical payment and loan provisions for peanut farmers. The loan rate would be increased from $355 per ton to $375 per ton and payments acres would be lowered from 85% of base acres to 74%.
The Subcommittee voted to extend the current sugar program until 2012, requiring the USDA Secretary to continue to operate the program at no cost to the federal government by avoiding forfeitures of sugar.