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2008 Farm Bill: Section-By-Section Summary

Rural Development Provisions

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Section 6001: Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility Grants

Extends program through 2012.

Section 6002: SEARCH Grants

Limits eligibility to communities that have populations of no more than 2,500 and are subject to financial distress. Funding is limited to 4% of money made available in a fiscal year for water and waste-disposal and essential community facilities programs. Grants fund up to 100% of project costs and they are subject tothe lowest amount of documentation practicable. Eligible uses of funds include predevelopment planning grants for feasibility studies, design assistance, and technical assistance.

Section 6003: Rural Business Opportunity Grants

Extends program through 2012.

Section 6004: Child Day Care Facility Grants, Loans, and Loan Guarantees

Extends current set-aside from April 1 to June 1.

Section 6005: Community Facility Grants to Advance Broadband

Further clarifies the authority of Community Programs. Strikes reference to dial up Internet access

Section 6006: Rural Water and Wastewater Circuit Rider Program

Extends Circuit Rider program and increases authorization for appropriations to $25 million per year for Fiscal Years 2008-2012.

Section 6007: Tribal College and University Essential Community Facilities

Changes program provision to prohibit Secretary from requiring more than 5% of funding for a facility to come from non-Federal sources.

Section 6008: Emergency and Imminent Community Water Assistance Grant Program

Extends program through 2012.

Section 6009: Water Systems for Rural and Native Villages in Alaska

Authorizes funding for the Denali Commission to provide grant assistance for solid waste disposal systems that lessen solid waste contamination of water.

Section 6010: Grants to Nonprofit Organizations to Finance the Construction, Refurbishing, and Servicing of Individually-Owned Household Water Well Systems in Rural Areas for Individuals with Low or Moderate Incomes

Continues homeowner water well systems program, increasing the amount that can be loaned to homeowners for improvements on each well from $8,000 to $11,000.

Section 6011: Interest Rates for Water and Waste Disposal Facilities Loans

Ties interest rates for new intermediate and poverty-rate water and waste disposal loans to current market rate. Change increases subsidy on such loans.

Section 6012: Cooperative Equity Security Guarantee

Allows Business and Industry loan guarantees to be made for the purchase of equity issued by a cooperative organization or a fund that invests primarily in cooperative organizations. Statutory provisions have been incorporated into Delivery Enhancement Taskforce Loan Guarantee Consolidation interim final rule targeted for publication in December 2008.

Section 6013: Rural Cooperative Development Grants

Modifies Rural Cooperative Development Grant rules to encourage networking and multi-state/multi-organization approaches, while reserving up to 20 percent of appropriated funds for cooperative development centers, individual cooperatives and groups of cooperatives that serve the socially disadvantaged. Provides authority to award multi-year grants, but not for a period longer than three years.

Section 6014: Grants to Broadcasting Systems

Authorizes extension of the program through 2012.

Section 6015: Locally or Regionally Produced Agricultural Food Products

Gives priority to loans and loan guarantees for locally or regionally produced food projects with components benefiting underserved communities. At least 5% of program funds must be reserved until April 1 each year for projects promoting locally for regionally produced agricultural products. Statutory provisions have been incorporated into Delivery Enhancement Taskforce Loan Guarantee Consolidation interim final rule targeted for publication in December 2008.

Section 6016: Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas

Makes permanent existing program, with modifications focusing on reduced input costs, conserving energy resources, diversifying operations through new energy crops and energy generation facilities, and expanding agricultural commodity markets for producers using practices that enhance environment, natural resource base, and quality of life. Defines several specific characteristics of organization to provide assistance to farmers.

Section 6017: Rural Economic Area Partnership Zones

Continues authorization for existing Rural Economic Area Partnerships (REAPs) in New York, North Dakota, and Vermont, through FY 2012. No new REAPs are authorized.

Section 6018: Definitions

Retains standard definition of "rural" used for business and other select programs that exclude cities of 50,000 or more and any urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to city of 50,000 or more. Exceptions are made for narrow strips of urbanized areas and the city of Honolulu, Hawaii and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Treats as “rural” certain fringe areas in urbanized areas.

Gives USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development ability to determine if urbanized area is rural in character following consultation with the State or regional USDA director and the governor of the respective state

Eligibility for water and waste disposal loans and grants and community facilities programs is unchanged. Retains definition of rural for community facilities program by excluding cities or towns in excess of 20,000. Gives Secretary authority to also exclude areas excluded by the business programs definition. Gives the Secretary power to exclude from the definition of “rural” certain areas of urban sprawl.

Section 6019: National Rural Development Partnership

Extends authority to appropriate funds for FY 2008-2012.

Section 6020: Historic Barn Preservation

Changes qualifications for Historic Barn Preservation Grants to emphasize projects that identify, document, research, and review evaluation methods and best practices.

Section 6021: Grants for NOAA Weather Radio Transmitters

Extends through 2012.

Section 6022: Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

Authorizes a rural entrepreneurship and microenterprise program to offer grants and loans to qualified microenterprise-development organizations that will provide technical and financial assistance to rural microentrepreneurs. Provides $15 million in CCC mandatory funding ($4 million annually for FY 2009-2011 and $3 million for FY 2012). The agency is considering a public meeting similar to Title IX Public Meeting to solicit public input on implementation of Section 6022 and Section 6023.

Section 6023: Grants for Expansion of Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities in Rural Areas

Authorizes a new grant program to nonprofit organizations to expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in rural areas. The agency is considering a public meeting similar to Title IX Public Meeting to solicit public input on implementation of Section 6022 and Section 6023.

Section 6024: Health Care Services

Creates new health care services grants aimed at consortiums of regional institutions to allow them to develop health-related services, education, and training programs, and public health facilities in Mississippi Delta region.

Section 6025: Delta Regional Authority

Extends and expands Delta Regional Authority, adding new counties to region.

Section 6026: Northern Great Plains Regional Authority

Continues authorization for Northern Great Plains Regional Authority, with provisions to expedite authority’s startup if federal and Indian representatives are not confirmed quickly. Promotes assistance for Northern Great Plains Regional Authority on particular regional economic issues, such as renewable energy, transportation, land management, higher education, and information technology. Grants could go to both local and multi-state entities. Adds some Missouri counties to region.

Section 6027: Rural Business Investment Program

Modifies the fee structure.

Section 6028: Rural Collaborative Investment Program

Replaces Rural Strategic Investment Program with Rural Collaborative Investment Program (RCIP) to support comprehensive regional investment strategies for achieving rural competativeness. RCIP funds a “National Institute” to provide technical assistance in administering the program. The section adds rural heritage to program goals.

Section 6029: Funding of Pending Rural Development Loan and Grant Applications

Authorizes $120 million in CCC funds for a one-time reduction in backlog of qualified, pending applications for water and waste disposal grants and loans and emergency community water assistance. Priority for this funding goes first to water systems and next to waste disposal systems.

Section 6101: Energy Efficiency Programs

Extends loans to energy efficiency programs.

Section 6102: Reinstatement of Rural Utility Services Direct Lending

Replaces the Federal Financing Bank guaranteed loan program and reinstates direct lending.

Section 6103: Deferment of Payments to Allow Loans for Improved Energy Efficiency and Demand Reduction and for Energy Efficiency and Use Audits

Authorizes deferment of principal and interest payments on existing loans for 60 months so that borrowers can make loans to residential, commercial, and industrial consumers to install energy-efficient measures or devices that reduce demand on electric systems.

Section 6104: Rural Electrification Assistance

For rural electrification assistance programs, rural areas are defined as excluding cities or towns of 20,000 or more, or are within service area of borrower who has an outstanding loan made under Titles I through V of Rural Electric Act.

Section 6105: Substantially Underserved Trust Areas

Defines “substantially underserved trust areas” as Native American trust lands where more than 20% of population does not have electric, telecommunications, broadband, or water service. Secretary may offer such areas lower interest rate loans and waive “non-duplication of service” requirements.

Section 6106: Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Electrification or Telephone Purposes

Extends eligibility for portfolio guarantees of eligible lenders. Replaces a formula cap on the amount of bonds or notes that can be guaranteed with an annual authorization of $1 billion.

Section 6107: Expansion of 911 Access

Expands eligibility to various entities for facilities and equipment to expand or improve 911 access, interoperable emergency communications, homeland security communications, transportation safety communication and location technologies used in rural areas.

Section 6108: Electric Loans for Renewable Energy

Allows Rural Utilities Services to make loans to rural electric cooperatives for electric generation from renewable sources. Redefines eligible renewable energy sources as energy conversion systems fueled from solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, or geothermal sources.

Section 6109: Bonding Requirements

Authorizes Secretary to review bonding requirements for all RUS Rural Electric Act programs to assure Federal Interests are protected by product warrantees, and costs do not exceed benefits of bonds.

Section 6110: Access to Broadband Telecommunications Services in Rural Areas

Reauthorizes grant, loan, and loan guarantee program while making several changes that redefine eligibility and prioritization. Authorizes appropriation of $25 million annually for FY 2008-2012.

Section 6111: National Center for Rural Telecommunications Assessment

Authorizes a National Center for Rural Telecommunications Assessment

Section 6112: Comprehensive Rural Broadband Strategy

Directs the FCC to develop a national rural broadband strategy in consultation with the Secretary.

Section 6113: Study on Rural Electric Power Generation

Mandates a study of electric power generation needs for rural areas, looking at rural electric cooperatives’ issues, financing issues, impact of electricity costs on consumers and local economic development, and the ability of fuel feedstock technology to meet regulatory requirements, such as carbon capture and sequestration.

Section 6201: Distance Learning and Telemedicine

Reauthorizes the program through 2012. Specifically authorizes assistance to public libraries in rural areas, in addition to existing coverage for telemedicine and distance learning.

Section 6202: Value-Added Agricultural Market Development Program Grants

Provides mandatory funding of $15 million available on October 1, 2008 from CCC for use until expended. Establishes a priority for socially disadvantaged and new farmers. 10% of funding shall be reserved for projects benefiting beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and 10% shall be reserved for projects developing mid-tier value chains.

Section 6203: Agriculture Innovation Center Demonstration Program

Authorizes appropriations for an Agriculture Innovation Center Demonstration Program.

Section 6204: Rural Firefighters and Emergency Medical Service Assistance Program

Changes eligibility to exclude for-profit entities, redefines program purposes, and reduces amount of allowable administrative expenses.

Section 6205: Insurance of Loans for Housing and Related Facilities for Domestic Farm Labor

Broadens eligibility for farm labor housing program to include projects for low-income individuals who receive a substantial portion of their income from processing agricultural or aquacultural commodities.

Section 6206: Study of Rural Transportation Issues

Mandates a study by the Departments of Transportation and Agriculture to examine the importance of freight transportation (railroad, barge, and truck) for agriculture products, renewable fuels, and electricity, and to address other transportation issues important for rural communities and economic development. Requires a report to Congress one year after date of enactment.

Section 6301: Short Title

“Housing Assistance Council Authorization Act of 2008” includes Section 6301 through 6305.

Section 6302: Assistance to Housing Assistance Council

Authorizes the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to provide financial assistance to the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) to support community-based housing development organizations’ community development and affordable housing projects and programs in rural areas.

Section 6303: Audits and Reports

Requires the Comptroller General to audit any institution receiving funds from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) and a GAO report on the use of any funds appropriated to HAC over the past 10 years. Allows the GAO to use private, independent audits for the review of HAC.

Section 6304: Persons Not Lawfully Present in the United States

Prohibits funds from Sections 6301-6305 from being used to provide housing assistance to persons not lawfully present in the United States.

Section 6305: Limitation on Use of Authorized Amounts

Prohibits funds from Section 6301-6305 from being used to lobby or retain a lobbyist for the purpose of influencing a governmental entity or officer.

Section 9003: Biorefinery Assistance

Provides loan guarantees for the development, construction and retrofitting of commercial-scale biorefineries, and grants to help pay for the development and construction costs of demonstration-scale biorefineries. Provides mandatory funding of $75 million in FY 2009 and $245 million in FY 2010 for commercial-scale biorefinery loan guarantees. It also authorizes funding of $150 million per year starting in FY 2009 and continuing through FY 2012 for both demonstration- and commercial scale biorefineries.

Section 9004: Repowering Assistance

Provides for payments to biorefineries (that were in existence at the time the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted) to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power to operate the biorefineries with renewable biomass. The bill provides $35 million for FY 2009 that will remain available until the funds are exhausted. The bill also authorizes additional funding of $15 million per year, from FY 2009 through 2012.

Section 9005: Bioenergy Program For Advanced Biofuels

Provides for payments to be made to eligible agricultural producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels. The bill provides $55 million in FYs 2009 and 2010, $85 million in FY 2011, and $105 million in FY 2012. Additionally, the bill authorizes additional funds in the amount of $25 million per year, from FY 2009 to 2012.

Section 9007: Rural Energy for America Program

Provides grants and loan guarantees for energy audits, feasibility studies and project development of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Expands and renames the program formerly called the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. Under the expansion, hydroelectric source technologies will be added as eligible; energy audits will be included as eligible costs, and; loan limits will be increased. The bill provides $55 million for FY 2009, $60 million for FY 2010, and $70 million for FYs 2011 and 2012. It also authorizes additional funds of $25 million per year, from FY 2009 through 2012.

Section 9008: Biomass Research and Development

Provides competitive grants, contracts and financial assistance to eligible entities to carry out research on and development and demonstration of biofuels and biobased products, and the methods, practices and technologies for their production. Establishes a Biomass Research and Development Board and the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The bill provides $20 million in funds in FY 2009; $28 million in FY 2010; $30 million in FY 2011 and $40 million in FY 2012. In addition, there is a funding authorization of $35 million per year, from FY 2009 through 2012. (Delegated to Rural Development through 9/30/08)

Section 9009: Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative

Provides grants for the purpose of enabling eligible rural communities to increase energy self-sufficiency. The bill authorizes an appropriation of $5 million per year, beginning in FY 2009 and continuing through FY 2012.

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