Rural Action Caucus

Rural Impact County Challenge
Recognizing the critical role local officials play in supporting innovation and change, NACo and the White House Rural Council have come together on a national initiative to help advance counties’ efforts to reduce the number of rural children and families living in poverty

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NACo's Rural Action Caucus (RAC) is a key component of NACo.  RAC is the voice for America's rural counties before Congress and the Administration.  Nearly two-thirds of the nation's 3,069 counties are designated as rural, with a combined population of 60 million.

County elected officials from these rural areas are dedicated to solving many critical issues impacting rural life and development. These include infrastructure development, broadband deployment, development of new rural clinics and hospitals, road and bridge construction and maintenance, business development opportunities and many more county responsibilities.

Since 1997, NACo's Rural Action Caucus has addressed critical federal, state and local issues

Policy Briefs

Maintain Funding for USDA Rural Development Programs


Urge your members of Congress to support U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development programs throughout the FY 2020 appropriations process by meeting or exceeding FY 2019 funding levels. USDA Rural Development programs provide critical investments to key rural county priorities.


USDA programs are funded through the annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. USDA Rural Development operates a broad range of grant and loan programs critical to rural counties. These programs include grant funding and loan financing for water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, broadband, electric, telephone, housing, renewable energy and business development. 

In February 2019 Congress passed and the president signed an omnibus spending package that included over $23 billion in total discretionary funding authority for USDA, including over $3 billion for USDA’s Rural Development Programs, an increase of $2.1 billion over FY 2018 funding levels. Additionally, the omnibus includes $550 million in appropriated funding for a rural broadband pilot program, administered by the USDA, to target areas that currently lack broadband access.

Counties encourage Congress to maintain funding levels at or above FY 2019 levels as it considers appropriations for FY 2020.

Below is a breakdown of FY 2019 funding levels:

Under the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS):

PDF icon USDA Rural Development Policy Brief.pdf

Support Key County Priorities as Congress Implements the 2018 Farm Bill


Urge your members of Congress to support county priorities throughout the implementation of the 2018 farm bill. Programs throughout the farm bill help counties make critical investments in infrastructure, economic development, nutrition and conservation. Preserving these programs is vital to the strength of our local and national economy.

The legislation, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-334), will expire at the end of FY 2023. NACo testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee during the bill’s development, securing authorization of several programs of interest to counties, and continues to work to preserve county priorities.


On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law a five-year reauthorization of the farm bill. The president’s signature comes after a bipartisan group of legislators worked for months to resolve disagreements between the two farm bills passed by the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. The final five-year, $867 billion reauthorization will help support county economies and provide critical investments to rural and underserved communities.

Throughout the farm bill process, county leaders helped draft bill text and amendments to preserve and promote key county priorities. Specifically, the final package creates a new Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, reinstates the Undersecretary for Rural Development and codifies the interagency Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development.

PDF icon Farm Bill Policy Brief.pdf

Latest Resources

  • Reports & Toolkits | Jan. 13, 2020

    NACo works to preserve local decision making, protect counties from unfunded mandates and preemption and strengthen the federal-state-local partnership.

  • Press Release | Dec. 13, 2018

    Key county victories achieved in rural development, nutrition, conservation

  • Document | Sep. 20, 2018

    As the governing authority over the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the farm bill is critical for counties who are responsible for delivering and administering vital services to many of our nation’s vulnerable families.

Get involved with RAC.  Individual county officials or staff from NACo member counties are eligible to join. RAC members receive periodic updates on key issues affecting rural counties. Learn more:

RAC Steering Committee


Robert Post
Banner County, Nebraska


Vice Chair

Jason Brinkley
County Judge
Cooke County, Texas


Melissa Cribbins
Coos County, Oregon


Kenneth Dahlstedt
Skagit County, Washington


Lena Fowler
Coconino County, Arizona


Vance Stuehrenberg
Blue Earth County, Minnesota


Robert Wilson
County Administrator
Cass County, North Dakota



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    (202) 942-4230