The town of German Flatts could gain access to Rural Development funding.
Senator Charles Schumer on Wednesday revealed 60 upstate communities that were previously ineligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture development programs could receive the opportunity to apply through the Senate Farm Bill.
Under current law, each Rural Development program has different definitions of what “rural” means in terms of eligibility. The Senate bill has created a single definition of rural for all USDA programs, specifically a city or town with fewer than 50,000 people, and which is not contiguous or adjacent to a city or town with more than 50,000. The bill also gives USDA greater authority to make better decisions as to which communities are rural, and eligible to apply for USDA funding.
“Anything that helps out the town, especially the area farmers who are the backbone of our community, I am definitely for,” said German Flatts Town Supervisor Frank Spatto.
“New York has received billions of dollars in USDA rural development funding in recent years, demonstrating the critical role these programs play in upstate New York. I’m thrilled more struggling towns and rural communities can now apply and compete for these loans and grants, which are a boon for infrastructure, the local economy and construction jobs, said Schumer in a news release. “Investing in water systems that improve water quality for residents, as well as community programs in hospitals, fire protection, public safety and schools is critical to communities, and will help enhance quality of life for residents and lead the way for further economic development in the region.”
Currently, the House of Representatives is considering a Farm Bill, but it does not contain language to expand the definition of a rural community. Schumer is urging House members to adopt the Senate-passed provision as the process moves forward.
“The Senate Farm Bill opens the spigot for game-changing water-sewer projects and paves the way for funding job-creating and economy-boosting community infrastructure projects by helping at least 60 new rural communities across the Hudson Valley and upstate New York gain access to the support of Rural Development programs,” said Schumer in a news release. “That is why I’m calling on the House of Representatives, which is considering the Farm Bill in committee this week, to adopt the Senate-passed provision and ensure that New York’s rural communities can be made eligible for the USDA’s rural investment programs.”