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Manchin Questions USDA Secretary, Budget Director on Ensuring Accurate Classifications, Proportionate Funding Levels for Rural America

March 29, 2023

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and John Rapp, Director of the USDA Office of Budget and Program Analysis during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies hearing. Senator Manchin questioned the witnesses on accurately classifying rural America to include mountainous regions and ensuring proportionate federal funding levels for rural areas.


On accurately classifying rural America to include mountainous regions:


“The Economic Research Service develops various codes and criteria to identify rural America. About 66 million people live in what I would consider rural America and currently, there is no code that accurately captures mountainous rural areas. Mountainous rural and agricultural rural are two different things,” Senator Manchin said in part. “It’s difficult for us to do anything from building towers to securing Internet connection and delivering these services is so much more expensive…Do you have any update on improving these codes?”


On ensuring proportionate federal funding levels for rural areas:

“When money is dispersed, whether it’s for education, healthcare, agriculture or anything else, rural areas do not get their proportionate share. 20% of the population is classified as living in a rural area…But when we look at national resources that go to rural America, it’s only about 7-9% of federal funding,” said Senator Manchin. “In my state, we don’t have one town or one city bigger than 50,000 people, but they get left out…The services are just as needed and that’s the problem we’re running into.”

A video of Senator Manchin’s questioning can be found here.

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