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US House appropriations bills would make major cuts to innovation

The House Appropriations Committee began releasing FY 2018 “markup” budget bills this week, and the proposals would cut billions in non-defense spending. EDA would lose $117 million in program funding, SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs would lose $34 million, NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership would lose $30 million, and Energy’s ARPA-E would be eliminated, among other cuts.

USDA reorganization of Rural Development concerns supporters

While U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that the Rural Development agency would be elevated under a reorganization plan because it would be placed under the direct oversight of the Secretary, not everyone is viewing the consolidation as an elevation.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Dept. of Agriculture

The president’s FY 2018 request for discretionary budget authority to fund programs and operating expenses is $21.0 billion, approximately $4.8 billion below the 2017 estimate in discretionary program funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA). This includes funding for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Rural Development, Forest Service, food safety, research, and conservation activities. However, the budget does not include the USDA reorganization plan that was announced by Secretary Sonny Perdue on May 11, which proposes a change in status for Rural Development.

Budget deal supports innovation, research

Congress has passed a budget for FY 2017 that largely continues support for federal innovation programs and R&D investments. Among the highlights are $17 million for Regional Innovation Strategies (a $2 million increase over FY 2016), level funding of $130 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and $5 million for SBA’s clusters program. In reviewing dozens of line items, offices that had received significant cuts in the White House’s skinny budget appear to receive some of the largest funding increases (such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Block Grant and ARPA-E). However, with the exception of multi-billion dollar increases for Department of Defense R&D, many increases are rather small in terms of overall dollars. This is, at least in part, a reflection of non-defense spending caps rising by only $40 million for FY 2017, limiting the availability of new funds. In this context, science and innovation gains are particularly impressive, with a five percent overall increase for federal R&D that particularly benefits NASA and NIH.

USDA Research Yields New Inventions

Mosquito-resistant uniforms for U.S. military personnel and a bio-refinery that turned a city landfill into an “energy park” are two new developments resulting from investments in scientific research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA Annual Report on Technology Transfer for FY 2015 includes new agriculture-related discoveries, inventions and processes made by USDA researchers, universities and small businesses with the potential for commercial application.

USDA Announces Launch of $100M Rural Business Investment Company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of the McLarty Capital Partners’ Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) – a new private investment fund with the potential to inject $100 million into growth-oriented, small businesses across rural America. As the fifth RBIC to launch since 2014, McLarty Capital Partners’ RBIC is part of the Made in Rural America initiative, an ongoing effort by the Obama administration to attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America and drive more economic growth in rural communities.

USDA Announces $11M for Rural Broadband, NTIA Releases Roadmap Toolkit

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last month the availability of more than $11 million in grants to support rural broadband through its Community Connect grant program, which seeks to help fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service. For FY 2016, the minimum grant amount is $100,000, while the maximum award is $3 million.

USDA Announces Investments in Projects to Support Rural Prosperity, Facilitate Private Investments

Last week, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a special meeting that include approximately 100 investors and venture capitalists to help stimulate private sector investments in rural infrastructure projects with the potential to spur economic development in small towns and rural communities across the country. Through its U.S.

USDA, Private VCs Raising $125M for Rural Startups

Two private venture firms have committed to raising a total of $125 million to invest in rural, early stage startups under the Department of Agriculture's Rural Business Investment Program. The program was launched last April, when Advantage Capital Partners launched the first $150 million Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) fund.

Highlights from the President's FY15 Department of Agriculture Budget Request

The president’s FY15 budget request would provide $23.7 billion (12 percent decrease) in discretionary funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The proposed budget would launch three new multidisciplinary agricultural research institutes dedicated to crop science, advanced biobased manufacturing, and anti-microbial resistance research, and double funding for rural broadband access. Through the president’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, additional funding would be provided for natural resource conservation programs and the construction of a new national biosafety research laboratory.

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