On January 29, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, more commonly known as the “Farm Bill.” The bill includes a provision that would extend current eligibility for rural communities receiving USDA housing funds.
The bill would allow communities eligible for funding based on the 2000 Census to retain eligibility through 2020. The bill would also change the definition of a rural community from one with fewer than 25,000 people to one with fewer than 35,000.
Congress is taking this action 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 enough population growth between the 2000 and 2010 Census 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.
The House vote in favor of the Farm Bill was 251 to 166. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the bill as early as the week of February 3.
View the H.R. 2542: http://1.usa.gov/1e3pdCM