Broadband, Agritherapy and Rural Development Supported in Agriculture Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, helped secure support for several West Virginia priorities in the agriculture appropriations bill that passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee today. She issued this statement following the bill’s unanimous passage:

“This wide-ranging agriculture appropriations bill is good for West Virginia. It addresses issues I have strongly advocated for, including expanding broadband access, combating the drug epidemic and promoting the benefits of agritherapy for our veterans. It also funds important agriculture, rural development and nutrition assistance programs for children and families,” said Senator Capito.

West Virginia priorities included in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2017:  

  • In addition to funding the Rural Utility Service’s Broadband Grant and Loan Program, the report includes language authored by Senator Capito directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the Community Connect Program’s Minimum Broadband Service definition. This will enable more communities in West Virginia to engage with the Rural Utilities Service and encourage providers to improve their connectivity. Senator Capito called on USDA to update broadband speed definitions for the Community Connect Grant Program earlier this month.
  • Includes support for USDA’s FARM-Vets initiative, which encourages the development of Veteran’s Agriculture programs. Last month, Senator Capito visited Geezer Ridge Farm in Hedgesville to raise awareness of a successful state-led agritherapy program taking place there.
  • Delivers guidance and increased emphasis on combatting opioid overdoses nationwide by directing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continue instituting proactive measures aimed at reducing the impact of opioid abuse on American families and communities.
  • Increases funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which provides a wide variety of research grants for projects including those at West Virginia University (WVU). WVU is currently using AFRI funds as part of a multi-state effort to research agriculture and biomaterials development, child obesity prevention and literacy initiatives.
  • Ensures sustained support for rural development through the Rural Utility Service’s Electric Program and Circuit Rider Program. These initiatives provide crucial resources to local infrastructure, public utilities and businesses by delivering financial support and technical assistance to rural communities in West Virginia and other states.
  • Provides continued funding for the National Rural Water Association’s Source Water Protection Program, which assists communities in developing water security and sanitation programs.