Under Secretary for Rural Development Would be Eliminated Under USDA Reorganization

CARH’s BROADCAST EMAIL – Legislative & Regulatory Update

May 11, 2017

This morning, CARH received a memo from the Acting Deputy Undersecretary at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Roger Glendenning, which indicates that the position of Under Secretary for Rural Development would be eliminated and that the three agencies that currently report to the RD Under Secretary – Rural Housing, Rural Utilities and Rural Business-Cooperative Service – would now report directly to USDA Secretary Perdue. The initial feedback is this is part of a reorganization to create organizational room for an unrelated Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs within USDA. Secretary Perdue held a teleconference earlier today to also tell employees of the general plans.

While on the surface this reorganization could elevate the functions currently under RD, it could also have the opposite effect of relegating functions since Under Secretary positions are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Administrator positions of the three agencies are not under current law and regulation. Therefore, their influence within USDA might be minimized. There are multiple regulations that we assume would be deleted, revised, or updated. At this time it is speculative, but if this is an elevation of Rural Housing, changes could be made that would make, for instance, the housing Administrator similar to the way the old Farmer’s Home Administrator position was prior to the last USDA statutory reorganization in 1994.
The reorganization will not take place immediately. The authorizing committees (Agriculture, Banking and Financial Services) and House and Senate Appropriations Committees have not been briefed in detail on the plan. There are many questions that remain unanswered by the reorganization memo, i.e., the role of the state directors and mission of the state offices and delegation of authority within the department. There is also concern that, in both the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 amended budget by the Trump Administration and the FY 2018 “skinny budget,” many of RD’s programs such as waste water and rural water would be eliminated. Congress rejected these cuts in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2017. The detailed FY 2018 proposed budget by the Administration is expected to be released later this month.

CARH will further review what this proposed reorganization could portend for multifamily housing. This will be another topic of discussion at CARH’s Annual Meeting and Legislative Conference on June 19-21, 2017. You will not want to miss this discussion so if you have not yet registered for the meeting, click here to download the registration form. The brochure with detailed session descriptions will be available on CARH’s website next week. Watch out for further emails on this important and must attend meeting!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact CARH at 703-837-9001 or carh@carh.org.

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