Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Mr. Doug O'Brien; Acting Administrator for the Rural Utility Service, Mr. John Padalino; Acting Administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Ms. Lillian Salerno; Administrator for the Rural Housing Service, Ms. Tammye Trevino; and USDA Budget Director, Mr. Mike Young testified before the Subcommittee.
"USDA is the sole federal department tasked with serving the needs of rural America," said Aderholt. "I am concerned that the budget request presented before this Subcommittee today does not address these needs but is instead a "pay for' to allow spending elsewhere. For example, rather than continue to invest in the most successful of the Rural Developments programs and missions like Single Family Direct Loans and Water and Waste Disposal grants, we see dramatic cuts to these programs that have helped rural areas most in recent years."
"While the Department has a $3.2 billion backlog in rural water and sewer applications, a $47 million backlog in my home state of Alabama alone, USDA proposes to cut funding to Water and Waste Disposal grants by $106 million. This program supports development, growth and job creation in the smallest and most needy rural communities. Before the Administration looks at this program as a line item to tout its deficit reduction efforts, this Subcommittee questions how the USDA will address this multi-billion backlog with even less funding," added Aderholt.
"This budget proposes focusing $55 million on a new, unproven, and seemingly unjustified grant program called the Rural Business and Cooperative Grant Program. This subcommittee appreciates USDA's efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness. However, if the department is serious about this concept it needs to submit a formal legislative proposal -- not the one included in the budget request -- so that the appropriate authorizing committees can consider it," continued Aderholt.
"I appreciate the testimony of Mr. O'Brien and his colleagues today, however, we must make sure that this budget request is in tune with the real needs of rural communities across America," concluded Aderholt.
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee's Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission.