Grants and revolving loans key to supporting rural economies
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today met with small business owners, hospital officials, and firefighters, along with representatives from the Highline Rural Electric Association and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to highlight and discuss the importance of USDA Rural Development resources in the Farm Bill.
The event was held at locally-owned ABTS Pharmacy, which recently received a $200,000 revolving loan, administered by the Highline Rural Electric Association, to help grow its business. Such loans allow electric associations to provide revolving loan capital for a number of projects in rural communities.
The USDA Rural Development program provides grants, direct loans, and guaranteed loans to rural recipients, such as fire districts, small businesses, and hospitals. The program has supported everything from a library in Burlington to a hospital in Holyoke to a pizza parlor in Windsor.
The Rural Development program is a key part of the Farm Bill, which has been stalled in Congress and is currently operating on a short-term extension.
“The programs included in the Farm Bill reach much farther than our farmers and ranchers. This is an important bill that we need to pass sooner rather than later because it provides assistance for all aspects of our rural economies,” Bennet said. “The USDA Rural Development loan program has helped sustain small businesses across rural Colorado in addition to the aid it provides our producers.”
As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Bennet helped write the bipartisan Farm Bill that the Senate passed in June. Earlier this month, Bennet was selected as a member of that Committee, which will work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
“If Congress doesn’t act the Farm Bill will expire in a matter of weeks, Bennet added. “The bill is critical to our rural communities, and they deserve much better than short-term extensions that make it more difficult to plan for the future.”
This event was part of Bennet’s tour of the Eastern Plains to highlight issues facing the region and discuss federal legislation that significantly affects rural Coloradans, including the bipartisan immigration and farm bills.