NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTINABLE AGRICULTURE
>Tuesday, May 22, 1997
> Please call your congressional representatives (House and Senate) and tell
>them how upset you are that Congress just cut funding for the Fund for Rural
>America by $20 million for this current fiscal year (FY97).
> The U.S. House and Senate last evening cut funding for the FRA as a part of
>a mid-cycle corrections process that Congress sometimes engages in after the
>actual appropriations bills are passed in the fall. The process is called a
>Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
> This year, Congress cut the Fund as a partial way to make up extreme budget
>shortfalls due to disaster relief, nutrition programs, peacekeeping
>operations, and other needs. The cuts' biggest impact will be on the $46
>million research/ extension competitive grants program, since the Fund had
>already spent most of its other program monies.
> But remember that this cut is for current funding. Congress is also in the
>middle of setting FY98 funding levels. Of course, the Fund actually should
>be considered un-cuttable, as it was given "mandatory" funding at $100
>million per year for three years in the 1996 Farm Bill. But the reality is
>that, with severe budgetary shortfalls all around us, the Fund will almost
>certainly be slated for similar (or worse) cuts in FY98.
> By contacting your congressional reps to them know how troubled you are by
>these cuts, you may help deter future cuts in FY98 or later budget cycles. It
>'s easy to call: Just dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask
>for your member.
> The message is simple: "I'm a constituent, and I'm upset that Congress just
>cut the Fund for Rural America. Please work to protect its full funding at
>$100 million for 1998."
>Background Information, or Key Points You May Want to Make:
>* America's rural communities are stressed. They need good housing, clean
>air and water, and jobs with stable, locally owned businesses that reinvest
>in local communities. The Fund for Rural America was created in 1996 to addres
>s critical backlogs in rural development programs and to support American
>farms and rural communities as part of the transition from traditional
>commodity programs legislated in the 1996 Farm Bill.
>* The Fund takes a comprehensive, systemic approach to addressing issues
>related to agriculture, rural development, and the environment. It has
>created considerable excitement in rural communities nationwide, as a chance
>to forge new, creative, long-term economic growth opportunities that are
>environmentally sound. Indeed, the Fund received over 3,000 proposals to the
>research and extension grants program bearing most of the FY97 cut; the cut
>severely debilitates the Fund and its ability to respond to this outpouring
>* The Farm Bill provided for $100 million per year in mandatory funding for
>the Fund, but even before the first year's funding is fully obligated, the
>House now proposes to raid it by $20 million to pay for unrelated matters.
> This program was key to the Farm Bill's passage, since its provisions speak
>to urgent needs in rural America, and should be funded in full.
>Thank you for calling this week!
National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
P.O. Box 396, Pine Bush, NY 12566