Coordination of nationwide rural development program using services of executive branch departments and agencies and State and local governments
The Secretary of Agriculture shall provide leadership within the executive branch for, and shall assume responsibility for coordinating, a nationwide rural development program using the services of executive branch departments and agencies, including, but not limited to, the agencies, bureaus, offices, and services of the Department of Agriculture, in coordination with rural development programs of State and local governments.
Policy development; systematic review of Federal programs; access to information; development of process to receive and assess needs, goals, etc.; cooperative agreements to improve Federal programs affecting rural areas; public hearings and comments
(1) The Secretary shall conduct a systematic review of Federal programs affecting rural areas to (A) determine whether such areas are benefiting from such programs in an equitable proportion to the benefits received by urban areas and (B) identify any factors that may restrict accessibility to such programs in rural areas or limit participation in such programs.
(2) Subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 [5 U.S.C. 552a], the Secretary may secure directly from any Federal department or agency information necessary to carry out the Secretary’s duties under this section. Upon request of the Secretary under this paragraph, the head of any such Federal department or agency shall furnish such information to the Secretary.
(3) The Secretary shall develop a process through which multistate, State, substate, and local rural development needs, goals, objectives, plans, and recommendations can be received and assessed on a continuing basis. Such process may include the use of those rural development experts, advisors, and consultants that the Secretary deems appropriate, as well as the establishment of temporary advisory committees under the terms of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Cooperators.—Each cooperator, including each Federal agency, to the extent that funds are otherwise available, may participate in any cooperative agreement or working group established pursuant to this paragraph by contributing funds or other resources to the Secretary to carry out the agreement or functions of the group.
(5) The Secretary may hold public hearings and receive comments on any matter that the Secretary determines may have a significant impact on rural development or the economic development of rural communities.
Rural development strategy and annual updates; preparation and scope; purposes; time for updates; public hearings and suggestions and recommendations; transmittal to Congressional committees; analysis of budgetary considerations and factors; evaluation and recommendations regarding implementation and revisions
The Secretary shall prepare a comprehensive rural development strategy based on the needs, goals, objectives, plans, and recommendations of local communities, substate areas, States, and multistate regions, which is designed to—
(A) maximize the effectiveness, increase the responsiveness, and improve the delivery of Federal programs to rural areas;
(B) increase the coordination of Federal programs with the development needs, objectives, and resources of local communities, substate areas, States, and multistate regions; and
(C) achieve the most effective combinations of Federal, State, and local resources to meet the needs of rural areas for orderly growth and development.
The rural development strategy shall take into account the need to—
(A) improve the economic well-being of all rural residents and alleviate the problems of low income, elderly, minority, and otherwise disadvantaged rural residents;
(B) improve the business and employment opportunities, occupational training and employment services, health care services, educational opportunities, energy utilization and availability, housing, transportation, community services, community facilities, water supplies, sewage and solid waste management systems, credit availability, and accessibility to and delivery of private and public financial resources in the maintenance and creation of jobs in rural areas;
(C) improve State and local government management capabilities, institutions, and programs related to rural development and expand educational and training opportunities for State and local officials, particularly in small rural communities;
(D) strengthen the family farm system; and
(E) maintain and protect the environment and natural resources of rural areas.
(3) The rural development strategy developed under this subsection shall be for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1982, and updated for each fiscal year thereafter.
(4) The Secretary shall hold public hearings and receive such suggestions and recommendations as the Secretary deems appropriate during the preparation of the rural development strategy and the annual updates to the strategy.
(5) The rural development strategy and the annual updates to the strategy shall be transmitted to the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry by January 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the beginning of the appropriate fiscal year.
(6) The rural development strategy and each annual update of the strategy shall contain an analysis of the budget recommendations of the President for the fiscal year following the transmittal of the strategy or update of the strategy and of all the available budget projections of the President for subsequent fiscal years, and projections regarding the budget that are relevant or essential to the rural development policy and the rural development strategy developed under this subsection. Each annual update shall also contain a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Secretary regarding the implementation during the preceding fiscal year of the rural development strategy, including any revisions of the strategy, any recommended legislation to improve the rural development effort of the Federal Government, and an evaluation of and recommendations regarding the rural development information system required under section 1926(a)(12) of this title.
Strategy implementation; goals
The Secretary shall ensure the effective implementation of the rural development strategy and maximize coordination of Federal programs affecting rural areas through a systematic effort to—
(1) improve communication and encourage cooperation among Federal departments and agencies in the administration of rural development programs;
(2) eliminate conflicts, duplication, and gaps in program coverage, and resolve contradictions and inconsistencies in the objectives, administration, and effects of rural development programs;
(3) facilitate the sharing or common location of field offices of Federal agencies administering similar or complementary programs and unification of delivery systems, where feasible, to maximize convenience and accessibility of such agencies and programs to rural residents;
(4) facilitate and expedite joint funding of rural projects through Federal programs;
(5) correct administrative problems in Federal programs that delay or hinder the effective delivery of services, assistance, or benefits to rural areas; and
(6) simplify, standardize, and reduce the complexity of applications, reports, and other forms required under Federal rural development programs.
(Pub. L. 92–419, title VI, § 607, as added Pub. L. 96–355, § 2, Sept. 24, 1980, 94 Stat. 1171; amended Pub. L. 104–127, title VII, § 759A, Apr. 4, 1996, 110 Stat. 1138.)