The Senate passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the “Farm Bill,” on February 3 by a vote of 68 to 32. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on February 7. The final bill includes a provision to extend current eligibility for rural communities receiving USDA housing funds that was also included in the House bill (see Memo, 1/31).
H.R. 2642 will allow communities eligible for funding based on the 2000 Census to retain eligibility through 2020. The bill raises the population limit for a community to be defined as rural from fewer than 25,000 people to fewer than 35,000.
Lawmakers approved these changes because, under current law, USDA is required to use 2010 Census data to determine eligibility for rural housing funds. Hundreds of communities that had been defined as rural under the 2000 Census had sufficient population growth between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses to make them ineligible for rural USDA funding. Since the 2010 Census, Congress has enacted a series of short-term measures to prevent loss of funds to the affected communities, including a provision in the FY14 omnibus appropriations bill that allowed communities to retain their eligibility for USDA funds through FY14.
View H.R. 2642: http://1.usa.gov/1aHtriJ