Reductions in USDA Funding and Congressional Earmarks to Impact Rural Areas
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Rural states should prepare to have fewer federal dollars in their economies. The Obama administration has proposed cuts in USDA funding and Congress has announced a ban on earmarks, which have historically been a boon to some rural areas.
Download the Excel Version of the Table: "Federal Earmark and Department of Agriculture Expenditures"
- The president’s 2012 budget proposes to allocate $6.5billion in financial assistance to electric cooperatives, research institutes and small businesses to assist in the development of renewable energy. This policy preference fits with the Administration’s larger objective of decreasing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, as well as spurring economic growth in a developing industry.
- The administration would direct $400 million in financial assistance specifically for biofuels, another indicator of renewable energy’s prominence in the federal agenda. These investments in renewable energy could help bolster rural state economies as they lose federal support in more traditional areas.
- The administration would also adjust its research funding. The focus would be on human nutrition, obesity reduction, food safety, sustainable bioenergy, global food security and climate change. These priorities would be emphasized at the expense of research grant earmarks. The administration also would cancel the $224 million unobligated balance for research construction projects.
- The administration proposes merging several programs of the U.S. Forest Service to improve efficiency.
- The administration would focus its effort on conservation by issuing a $2 million funding increase for the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
- The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or “Food Stamps” program, would receive 15 percent more funding than 2010 levels.
- Research spending in 2012 would decrease by 17 percent from 2010 levels.2
- Marketing and regulatory programs spending would decrease by 5 percent.
- Funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service would increase 67 percent from 2010 levels.
- Rural Housing Service funding would decrease by 46 percent from 2010 levels.
- A road expansion project in Kentucky’s Christian County is now in jeopardy.3
- Alaska in 2008 had the lowest population and highest earmark funding per capita. Its earmark per capita in 2010 was less than a third of what it was in 2008.4 Alaska’s federal support is likely to be in even greater jeopardy in 2011.
- West Virginia’s congressional delegation requested $820 million in earmarks for projects like flood control in coalfields and mine rescue teams, but the state is unlikely to receive it unless it wins funding through grant-making agencies, which also are facing tight budgets.5
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