Rural Residents Left Out of Farm Bill?

With debate over the 2012 Farm Bill heating up, some political commentators and farmers are wondering whether rural residents will be neglected when it comes to agricultural spending and funding.

With most of the focus of the farm bill debate has fallen on farm subsidies and federal support systems, politicians in Washington often forget rural infrastructure and rural development. While farming’s bottom line is crop production, crops are grown, harvested, marketed, and sold within the larger framework of rural communities. Rural infrastructure is necessary to nearly every aspect of agricultural production, and that infrastructure is gradually crumbling in the face of budget cuts and austerity measures.

Recent news stories about decrepit roads and dilapidated bridges have brought the plight of rural communities to the forefront of national attention. Rural advocacy groups are hoping to capitalize on this attention to guarantee increased funding for the next farm bill.

In his testimony at the recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearings, Charles Fluharty, vice-president of the Rural Policy Research Institute, highlighted the disparity between rural and urban funding stating, “$28 billion [in] additional rural community and economic development resources that would have been available in 2010, if non-metro counties received the same per capita federal funding resources as metro counties. “

The funding disparity doesn’t end with the federal government. Rural communities only received 1 percent of the roughly $46 billion donated by U.S. philanthropic organizations. Without more active support from the federal government, rural communities will continue to languish, hurting overall production within the United States and jeopardizing the nation’s economic development.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer