Leahy Amendment Adds Bipartisan Reauthorization Of The Northern Border Regional Commission To The 2018 Farm Bill

. . . Leahy-Led Effort Leverages Job Creation Investments In Distressed Rural Counties In Vermont, New Hampshire And Other N. Border States

In a vote of 20 to 1, the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday passed a new five-year Farm Bill that includes an amendment by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to reauthorize the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) through 2023.  Leahy advocated for the creation of the Commission in the 2008 Farm Bill and successfully reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill.  The commission promotes regional coordination and  invests in job creation efforts and economic development in distressed counties in the Northeast in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. 

Leahy said:  “The Northern Border Regional Commission was created to address the economic challenges faced by communities along the Northern Border, like those in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  By infusing federal support into local and regional development plans, NBRC grants can effectively support the economic development of the community in a way that was planned by the community, which has a reverberating impact throughout the region.”

“I’m glad to see this bipartisan legislation move forward, and I’m pleased that as a member of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Leahy was able to include my bill to bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission, which has provided significant support for New Hampshire communities and businesses,” said Shaheen. “Reauthorizing the commission and expanding its reach to include additional New Hampshire counties will create jobs and, through development projects, improve the quality of life in our communities. By increasing the commission’s scope, together as a region, we can help improve regional infrastructure while growing broadband access and economic opportunity. This program has made an enormous difference for Granite State families in Northern New Hampshire and the Northern Forest region, and I will continue to work across the aisle to ensure it passes the Senate and then becomes law.”

The amendment offered by Leahy reflected bipartisan legislation introduced earlier this year by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), joined by Leahy, and Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

Leahy, a leading member of the Agriculture Committee and a former chair of the panel, offered the amendment to reauthorize NBRC at $30 million annually through 2023, and including administrative improvements that will make the Commission more effective and efficient.  The reauthorization establishes a capacity-building grant offering to help states support business retention and expansion, encourage job creation and workforce development, expand access to high-speed broadband and encourage initiatives that drive investments in transportation and other infrastructure in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York.

In the current federal fiscal year, the Northern Border Regional Commission received an increase of $8 million compared to fiscal year 2017, for a total of $18 million, including $3 million for the development of markets for new wood products, and $3 million for the NBRC to collaborate with the Economic Development Administration to assist the recovery of forest based economies. 

As of 2017, the Commission has directly invested more than $7.7 million in Vermont and $7.3 million in New Hampshire, totaling of 88 projects between the two states, and leveraging more than $41 million in project investments in matching funds.  The Commission provides a key federal investment to promote infrastructure and economic development along the Northern Border. 

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