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Owen Hart

Associate Legislative Director - Agriculture & Rural Affairs

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County Countdown – June 17, 2024


Urge your members of Congress to support U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA-RD) programs throughout the FY 2025 appropriations process by meeting or exceeding FY 2024 funding levels. USDA-RD programs empower counties to make critical investments in rural communities. 


USDA programs are funded through the annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Ag-FDA) appropriations bill. USDA-RD operates a broad range of programs vital to rural counties and the communities we serve. These programs include grant funding and loan financing for water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, broadband and telecommunications deployment, housing, energy and business development.    

In March 2024, Congress passed the FY 2024 spending package that included $22.3 billion in total discretionary funding authority for USDA, $383 million below FY 2023 funding levels. These reduced funding levels include steep cuts to USDA-RD programs vital to county governments and residents. 

As Congress continues to work toward passing a federal budget, counties encourage Congress to return funding for USDA-RD programs 
to FY 2023 levels as it considers appropriations for FY 2025.


Below is a breakdown of FY 2024 funding levels for Rural Development 

Under the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS): 

  • Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Programs: $1.51 billion in funding for the Water and Waste Disposal Program – a $560 million, or 27.1 percent, reduction from FY 2023 levels. This program awards loans and grants to rural communities address the backlog of clean water and waste disposal projects.
  • Rural Broadband: $90 million for the Rural e-Connectivity (ReConnect) Program, $258 million below FY2023 levels. $40 million in funding for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband Program, $20 million below FY 2023 funding levels. These programs help extend internet access to underserved rural communities. Rural broadband programs received cuts due to the implementation of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access in underserved areas. 

Under the USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS): 

  • Rural Community Facilities Program: $2.8 billion in direct and guaranteed loans for the Rural Community Facilities Program, equal to FY 2023 funding levels. This program helps fund rural hospitals, schools, and health clinics.  
  • Rural Housing Loan and Rental Assistance Programs: $28.1 billion for Rural Housing Rental Assistance Programs, $5.26 billion below FY 2023 funding levels. These programs help provide affordable housing to low-income and elderly households in rural communities. 

Under the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS): 

  • Rural Business Development Program: $66.62 million for the Rural Business Development Grant Program, $19.9 million below FY 2023 funding levels; and $24.3 million for Rural Cooperative Development Grants. These programs support rural entrepreneurs and help rural communities create and expand new market opportunities through strategic investments. 


  • USDA Rural Development operates a broad range of programs tailored to address the specific needs of rural counties and communities. These programs provide grant funding and loan financing for water/wastewater infrastructure, community facilities, broadband, and telecommunications, housing, renewable energy and business development.
  • Urge your member of Congress to invest in rural America to return FY 2025 appropriations for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA-RD) programs to FY 2023 funding levels. 

    For further information, contact Owen Hart at 202.942.4280 or 

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County Countdown – June 17, 2024

Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.