USDA Report Changing the Definition of 'Rural'?
Special to the Post | 3/5/13

Last week USDA released a report on how it might redefine "rural" for its development programs. But the agency didn't include critical attachments that were named in the report's table of contents. Here they are.

The publicly released version of a U.S. Department of Agriculture report to Congress last week was missing some critical attachments. Without this information, it’s much harder to see what USDA has in mind for how it might redefine “rural” for some of its programs.

We’re happy to publish this information today.

Rural Definition Report

Addendum 1, USDA Rural Development Program Authorities

Addendum 2, Feb. 15, 2011 Testimony on Rural Definition

Addendum 3, Questions and Answers to Feb. 15th, 2011 Hearing on Rural Definition

Addendum 4, Filtering Criteria Examples

Addendum 5, Requests for Rural in Character Determinations

Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to get the documents directly from USDA. While the USDA is working on our request for the documents, we obtained them from another source.

The documents come out of the 2008 farm bill. In that bill, Congress told USDA to report on its definition of rural and how to better target the agency’s development programs. The report was due in June 2010 and was delivered on February 22, 2013.

The report suggests reworking the old definitions of rural, which set population thresholds at 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 residents for different programs. The report suggests the agency could make a common definition of rural: fewer than 50,000 residents. The report acknowledges that might concern smaller communities, which could wind up competing with much larger cities for some development programs.

To level the playing field for smaller communities, the report says USDA could use a point system. One critical addendum, which hasn’t been released to the public yet, gives examples of how such “filtering criteria” might work. Here it is.

This article is reprinted from the Daily Yonder, with permission.  For insightful news about rural America, visit their website.


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