COLUMBUS, OH. – During Ohio’s Rural Community Assistance Partnership (R-CAP) conference in Columbus today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was named R-CAP’s “Rural Champion of the Year.” Representatives from Brown’s office also highlighted Brown’s rural development efforts. In June 2012, an amendment offered by Brown, was included in the Senate-passed farm bill to fund critical U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development programs. The amendment would help Ohio communities update wastewater and sewer infrastructure systems, provide access to capital for Ohio agricultural producers and small businesses, and provide technical assistance to beginning farmers.
“Strong rural communities and a thriving rural economy demand investment in business development and basic infrastructure,” Brown said. “That’s why I fought to include support for rural communities in the 2012 farm bill and why I am working to pass a five-year farm bill that would create jobs, boost development, and promote growth in Rural America. It’s what R-CAP and the rural development leaders at today’s conference do every day and I am honored to receive this award.”
Brown’s amendment funds critical programs:
More than 185 organizations have expressed support for funding for these rural development programs, including: National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, Farmers Union, Farmers Market Coalition, National Rural Water Association, National Young Farmers Association, Association of Towns and Townships, National Association of RC&Ds, National League of Cities, National Rural Housing Coalition, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Center for Rural Affairs, American Public Works Association, and League of Rural Voters.
The Senate’s bipartisan 2012 farm bill represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades. The farm bill saves taxpayers $23.4 billion. The centerpiece of the deficit reduction measures in the bill – based on the bipartisan Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management Act (ARRM) Brown authored with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) – would end the era of paying farmers for crops they do not grow. These “direct payments” would be replaced by a market-based system that relies on current crop-year data, market prices, and actual yields. Brown’s amendment is paid for through savings from Brown’s ARRM provision.
Brown, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation, fought for provisions in the Senate’s 2012 farm bill that bolster rural economic development, overhaul the farm safety net by ending the era of paying farmers for crops they don’t grow, and ensure access to healthy and affordable food.
Over the last year, Brown convened a “Grown in Ohio” Listening Tour around the state to meet directly with farmers, business leaders, and community officials in advance of Senate consideration of the farm bill. These meetings have guided Brown’s legislative priorities. The Senate bill reduces government spending by $23 billion while reauthorizing risk management, conservation, nutrition, trade promotion and research programs on which nearly all Americans depend. Without action these programs are set to expire at the end of September 2012.