Baldwin secures major investments for rural development
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to secure major investments to rural development programs that the Trump Administration proposed eliminating in the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending legislation.
“Rural communities across Wisconsin face challenges with infrastructure, broadband and creating economic opportunity. Too often, small towns get left behind as investors find it more attractive to go to the big cities. That’s why I prioritize fighting for strong investments in rural communities,” said Senator Baldwin. “Washington has spent too much time debating instead of making progress. I am proud that we were able to reverse proposed cuts and provide strong funding for the key tools our communities use to fund rural drinking water projects, broadband deployment and business development.”
Senator Baldwin worked across party lines in the Senate Appropriations Committee and successfully fought to reverse these cuts and include strong investments for rural America in the FY2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. In January, Senator Baldwin met with the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share Wisconsin’s priorities for rural development and urge the Trump administration to invest in our rural communities. In total, Wisconsin received $627.1 million in rural development investments in 2017.
Expanding rural broadband
Senator Baldwin, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, has long fought for Washington to step up and be a stronger partner to rural communities by providing additional funding to help expand rural broadband access for communities across Wisconsin. The bipartisan agreement includes $600 million in new funding for rural broadband pilot grant and loan programs targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service.
Community development block grants
In her role on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin led the fight against President Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program last year, and again was successful in obtaining $3.3 billion for CDBG funding in the final FY18 spending legislation. This represents a $300 million increase from FY17.
CDBG funds local community development initiatives that support jobs, housing, infrastructure and public services for millions of Americans.
Clean water in Wisconsin
The final bipartisan legislation includes $1.25 billion for direct and guaranteed loans and $560 million for loan subsidies and grants to support clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage to households and businesses in rural communities.
The bipartisan omnibus spending agreement includes a $1 million increase to the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program, totaling $16 million for this fiscal year.
VAPG is a competitive grant program administered by the Rural Business-Cooperative Service of USDA that provides funding to farmers and groups of farmers to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses. These enterprises help increase farm income and marketing opportunities, create new jobs, contribute to community economic development and enhance food choices for consumers.
Senator Baldwin worked to include $661 million for the Rural Utilities Service in the final legislation that provides much-needed infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities. These include water and waste treatment, electric power and telecommunications services.
Rural community facilities
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin secured the full budget request of $30 million for Community Facility Grants that are instrumental to building hospitals, assisted living facilities and other rural community facilities important to enhancing the quality of life in small towns.
Jobs, small businesses
While President Trump proposed eliminating Rural Business Program Loan Subsidies and Grants, the bipartisan legislation increases this funding by $12 million, totaling more than $77 million this fiscal year. In Wisconsin, small rural businesses have been supported by these investments with targeted technical assistance and training to develop or expand their operations.