Bustos Deeply Concerned by Trump Administration’s Decision to Undermine Job-Creating Rural Development Programs

After running on a platform of bringing jobs back, Trump Administration continues breaking promises to small towns and rural communities

Moline, IL – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, expressed great concern regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate the Rural Development Undersecretary position.

This week, it was announced that they have decided to eliminate a senior level, Senate confirmed position at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that spearheaded the department’s efforts to create jobs and grow the economy in rural communities. As was reported, new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the decision to restructure the USDA, including an extremely ill-advised decision to eliminate the position of Undersecretary for Rural Development.

The Rural Development mission area is the only mission area at USDA focused exclusively on improving the economic and quality of life in rural and small town America.  Rural Development programs help provide financing and support for local businesses and construction of key infrastructure in these communities including providing clean water systems, electrification, broadband, rural hospitals, police stations, nursing homes, and even fire trucks and emergency sirens.

This news comes following the March release of President Trump’s budget blueprint which included a devastating 21 percent cut to the USDA’s budget, including completely eliminating key water infrastructure programs and business programs, and the April announcement to disband the White House Rural Council.

“Today’s news is a gut punch for anyone in rural America who wants to see small businesses succeed on their Main Streets, new opportunities in their communities and better jobs for them and their neighbors,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said. “After proposing devastating cuts that would hurt family farmers, now the Trump Administration is planning to eliminate the dedicated Senate confirmed leadership post focused exclusively on rural economic development programs with a proven track record of creating jobs in rural America and helping small businesses in small towns succeed. President Trump might say something different in his tweets, but his actions send an unmistakable message that rural America isn’t a priority. I’m committed to putting hardworking families first and this action is step in the wrong direction.”

Background:

According to testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture, during the last Administration, the USDA’s Rural Development program helped about 112,000 rural small businesses grow, creating or saving an estimated 450,000 jobs. It also provided funding for more than 6,600 critical community projects such as hospitals, libraries, schools, and public safety facilities while supporting more than 3,000 multi-family housing developments. In just fiscal year 2015 alone, the USDA’s rural development program also helped more than 1.1 million rural families buy, repair or refinance a home, enabling more than 141,000 rural Americans to achieve the American dream of homeownership. Rural Development also manages a loan portfolio of 1.3 million loans valued at over $216 billion in investments in rural America.

Rural Development has also invested a total of $13.3 billion since FY 2009 in new or improved infrastructure in rural areas through 10,623 water projects. These improvements helped nearly 18 million rural residents gain access to clean drinking water and better waste-water disposal. Rural Development staff provided grants and loans for water and waste-water projects to help safeguard the health of approximately 15.7 million rural residents. Modernized electric service was delivered to more than 5.5 million subscribers and over 180,000 miles of electric lines were funded. We invested in new and improved broadband service to nearly 1.5 million rural residents, which expands access to state-of-the-art health care, educational and cultural resources, and provides the opportunity for local businesses to compete in the global economy; helped modernize rural electric infrastructure for about 5.5 million rural residents and businesses.

In Illinois’ 17th Congressional District

  • Jo-Carroll Energy, an electric cooperative in Elizabeth, Illinois, has been key in bringing USDA Rural Development funding to Northwest Illinois.
    • A $447,155 loan was used to construct new equipment at Neumiller Farm, a third generation potato and vegetable farm operation located between Savanna and Thomson, streamlining their processes and supporting job growth.
  • Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. received a $36,665 grant in 2016 through the Rural Energy for America Program. They will use these funds to install a ground source heat pump system at their newly expanded and current facility, which will be around 6,800 square feet.
    • The project is expected to save them around $18,000 in energy costs and save approximately 174,000 kWh (85% savings) per year, which is enough electricity to power 16 homes. These energy efficiency improvements are expected to have less than an eight-year payback.

Rural Business Cooperative Service administers job training, energy, and business development programs, including cooperative and business development, community economic development, regional planning and financing, rural and Tribal place-based approaches and other self-help initiatives. RBS also offers programs to provide the educational opportunities, training, technical support, and tools for rural residents to start small businesses.

  • In FY 2015, RBS helped more than 12,500 rural businesses through $1.5 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and grants.  Since 2009, USDA has helped over 112,000 rural businesses start or expand operations with nearly $11 billion in investments.
  • The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program has made over 600 awards totaling over $365 million assisting nearly 1,100 businesses and helping create or save over 31,000 jobs since 2009.  In FY 2015, RBS made under this program 38 loans, totaling $38.6 million, and 33 grants, totaling approximately $9.2 million.
  • The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has significantly contributed to doubling the number of farms using renewable energy production in the last five years.  Since 2009, RBS renewable energy programs have made 11,649 awards to provide over $720 million in funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to strengthen rural economies.

Rural Housing Service provides funding for single family housing, apartments for low-income persons or the elderly, housing for farm laborers, childcare centers, fire and police stations, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, and much more. In partnership with non-profits, Indian tribes, state and federal government agencies, and local communities, RHS creates packages of technical assistance and loan and grant funds.

  • Since 2009, Rural Development has helped more than 1.1 million rural families buy, refinance and maintain homes with $137.5 billion in RHS investments.  During FY 2015, our Rural Development housing programs provided $19.5 billion to help more than 141,300 families with modest incomes buy, finance, or repair their homes.
  • During FY 2015, RHS helped 10,840 families build or renovate about 450 multi-family housing rural apartment complexes through $277.2 million in funding.
  • USDA Rural Development, through its Community Facilities programs, has improved the quality of life for rural residents by investing $9.6 billion in more than 9,000 community infrastructure projects in education, health care and other critical community needs.

Rural Utility Service provides funding opportunities in the form of grants, loans, and loan guarantees, for the development and commercialization of Electric, Telecommunications, and Water and Waste utility services.

  • Rural Development has invested a total of $13.3 billion since FY 2009 in new or improved infrastructure in rural areas through 10,623 water projects. These improvements helped nearly 18 million rural residents gain access to clean drinking water and better waste-water disposal.
  • Modernized electric service was delivered to more than 5.5 million subscribers and over 180,000 miles of electric lines were funded.
  • USDA Rural Development helped provide new and improved broadband service to nearly 1.5 million rural residents.
  • During 2015, the Rural Utility Service has provided more than 5.5 million rural consumers with improved electric service, over 2.8 million rural households, businesses and community institutions with better access to telecommunications services, and more than 18 million rural residents with improved water and wastewater services.

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