Friday, October 05, 2007

Rural development programs work, Rural Policy Research Institute says

The Rural Policy Research Institute continues to argue for a stronger rural-development title in the Farm Bill, saying the latest numbers from the Department of Agriculture show that such investment effectively improves economies of rural areas.

RUPRI's report highlights the USDA's Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, and it says that every dollar invested in the program brought a return of $28 for rural economies. In 2005, the program, which cost $304 million, "leveraged over $6 billion in guaranteed loans, which contributed over $8.5 billion annually to the GDP of rural economies, and created nearly 98,000 full-time equivalent jobs," according to the RUPRI report.

The essence of RUPRI's argument is that commodity payments cannot impact rural economies the way investment in development can. The state of overall rural economies are important, as most farming households' income comes from off-farm sources. When the Senate Agriculture Committee tackles the Farm Bill in two weeks, this argument could play a role in debate over the level of funding for development.

No comments: