The Rural Development Policy Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-355) named USDA as the lead federal agency for rural development. RD is the mission area within USDA responsible for rural infrastructure and economic development assistance. Three agencies comprise RD: the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, the Rural Housing Service, and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). RD programs are largely loan and grant programs that assist communities with small populations to finance development projects.The Congressional Research Service Title 6 Summary
As the Congressional Research Service points out, most provisions in title 6 of the 2018 farm bill involve providing credit for developing infrastructure to deliver telecommunications and medical access. Yet lack of access to healthy food is a very real issue in rural America,1 and the USDA is in a position to alleviate this.
AFA recommends that Congress create a pilot program to help rural landowners and agriculture producers to diversify into producing sustainable, soil-building, fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. While this won’t solve food insecurity in rural America, it could provide tools for local communities to increase affordable access to healthy fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
It seems that those living among fields abundant with soy, corn, and wheat are ironically limited in their access to fiber-rich foods. It doesn’t need to be this way.
AFA proposes the FARMS Amendment which would create a pilot program to empower rural farms to diversify into producing diverse fruits and vegetables to serve local populations.