Agriculture & Rural Affairs Steering Committee

Responsible for all matters pertaining to USDA agriculture, rural development programs, rural renewable energy development, research and extension, food safety, and conservation programs. 

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

Join a steering committee and make a difference. Learn more about getting involved in NACo's Agriculture & Rural Affairs Steering Committee:

Agriculture and Rural Affairs Steering Committee


Melissa McKinlay
Palm Beach County, Florida


Vice Chair

Terry Burroughs
Okeechobee County, Florida


Harrison Moody
Dinwiddie County, Virginia


Craig Pedersen
Kings County, California


Luis Sanchez
Midland County, Texas


Subcommittee Chair

Bob Fox (Agriculture and Food Safety)
Renville County, Minnesota


James Schmidt (Rural Development)
Lincoln County, South Dakota


Subcommittee Vice Chair

Alexander Barnett (Agriculture and Food Safety)
County Judge/Executive
Harrison County, Kentucky


Tony Cherry (Rural Development)
Choctaw County, Alabama


Melvyn Houser
County Auditor
Pottawattamie County, Iowa


Keith Langenhahn (Agriculture and Food Safety)
Field Services Representative
Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin


David Meyer (Agriculture and Food Safety)
Washington County, Illinois


Lee Patterson (Rural Development)
Calhoun County, Alabama



  • Associate Legislative Director – Political Outreach Manager  
    (202) 942-4230