Farm Bill Passes House Agriculture Committee and Includes Water Infrastructure Funding

Despite lengthy statements of concern by Committee Democrats, on Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee passed HR 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, the Farm Bill., by a vote of 26-20.

One of the least controversial parts of the bill, Title VI, Subtitle C, provides funding for small, rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.  It authorizes capitalization of a revolving loan fund at $30 million through 2023 and increased the maximum financing amount for loans to $200,000.  In addition, the rural water and wastewater circuit rider program is authorized to be funded at $25 million for FY 18.  Finally, the USDA SEARCH (Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households) program that makes “…predevelopment planning grants for feasibility studies, design assistance, and technical assistance, to financially distressed communities in rural areas with populations of 2,500 or fewer inhabitants for water and waste disposal projects…” is authorized at $27 million through 2023.

HR 2 now moves to the House Floor for consideration.  On the Senate side, their Agriculture Committee is working on a separate version of the Farm Bill but no language is publicly available as yet.