U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced an extension of the Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone designation for Sullivan County and the town of Wawarsing passed the full Senate as part of the 2012 Farm Bill.
The measure would extend a designation that helps give the region priority access to federal funding from the USDA to help grow the local economy and revitalize rural communities. The current Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone designation expires September 30, 2012. Senator Gillibrand's measure would extend the designation another five years. After clearing final passage in the Senate, the legislation now awaits passage by the House of Representatives.
"New York's rural communities have felt some of the very worst of this economic downturn -- just the latest in a string of years, if not decades, that have been tough on rural families and businesses," Senator Gillibrand said. "When our rural communities suffer, our entire state suffers. But I know that our rural communities are home to some of our hardest workers and the best that New York has to offer -- from our family farms, to manufactures, to innovative small businesses. When we invest in rural families and businesses, we can re-energize local economies, help attract new businesses and new jobs, and get back to enjoying all that life in rural communities has to offer."
President of Sullivan Wawarsing REAP Zone JJ Pavese said, "It is great that the Senate has led the way in passing this year's Farm Bill, hopefully the House follows suit. Keeping the REAP Zone in tact is important to the Sullivan and Wawarsing communities as it helps award bonus or preferential treatment of grant applications that are within our zone. We have and will continue to support all grant applications that will benefit the constituents of these communities."
Established in 1999, REAP Zone designations allow disadvantaged rural areas to gain preference for USDA funding. Recent projects that received federal funding in part due to the REAP designation include:
Upgrading sewer systems and constructing a new wastewater treatment plant in the villages of Monticello and Woodridge
Improving heating and air conditioning in the Village of Ellenville Municipal Building and the Sullivan County Headstart Center in Monticello
Installing videoconferencing equipment at the Sullivan County BOCES site and nine schools across five school districts
Creating a new meat processing facility in Liberty and purchasing new dairy processing equipment
Developing a comprehensive economic development plan and a jobs action plan for Sullivan County