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The Administration’s Plans for USDA






The Administration’s Plans for USDA



Posted on May 30, 2017


By Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises

In a recent report to Congress, USDA proposed, as part of the administration’s effort to streamline and reorganize federal agencies, to eliminate the appointed position of Undersecretary for Rural Development. Subsequently, the details of the administration’s proposed federal budget for 2018 dropped with a thud onto the country’s doorsteps. Taken together, these actions should greatly alarm all who care about the well-being of rural communities throughout the country.

The reorganization plan says it “recognizes and promotes the importance of rural development by placing it under the direct oversight of the Secretary.” Sounds great, until you look at the numbers in the proposed budget: zeroes for 502 Direct Mortgages (all self-help homebuilders use this financing), 504 Grants and Loans (senior home repairs), 514/516 Farm Labor Rental Housing, 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing (without which there is no self-help program), and Water – Wastewater loans and grants, and also a big cut in 521 Rental Assistance for the poorest renters in rural America. It looks like we won’t need an Undersecretary any more, since there will be no direct funding programs left to administer!

This approach should be taken as an affront to a constituency who elected the President – rural Americans. Rural Development is the only part of the federal government that focuses on the improvement and preservation of our rural towns and cities, including housing, business, infrastructure and community facilities.

We know that these programs have enjoyed strong support from Congress from both sides of the aisle because they have made a difference in the most challenging communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

We will be counting on these Congressional representatives as this budget-making process unfolds.