Senate Passes Farm Bill that Includes Shaheen-Kuster Provisions to Expand Northern Border Regional Commission to Cheshire and Belknap Counties, and Strengthen Program
**NBRC provisions passed the Senate along with critical NH priorities championed by Shaheen for Granite State Farmers and Rural Communities**
**Legislation now heads to the House of Representatives to be voted on along with bipartisan provisions backed by Kuster to benefit NH**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of both the House Agriculture Committee and Farm Bill Conference Committee, secured provisions in the final 2018 Farm Bill that passed the Senate 87-13 that will strengthen the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) and expand the reach of the program. The legislation will now be voted on in the House of Representatives before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Because of Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation, and with support from Kuster, the NBRC will be expanded to provide economic development to additional counties in New Hampshire, including Cheshire and Belknap, and will allow the NBRC to attract businesses from outside the United States, as well as devote additional resources to encourage renewable energy development in the region. Through Shaheen’s NBRC provision, up to $38 million could be devoted to improving economic development in the region, an $8 million increase from the previous funding authorization.
The NBRC provides critical support throughout Northern New Hampshire and has funded grants that spur economic and community development in the North Country. In July, the New Hampshire delegation announced that the NBRC will fund fifteen infrastructure and community development projects in New Hampshire, totaling nearly $3 million of federal investments to the state in Fiscal Year 2018. The investments made by the NBRC have the direct impact of creating jobs, supporting community-oriented projects and attracting private investments that will help organizations and municipalities meet their funding objectives.
“The Northern Border Regional Commission provides significant economic and community support in Northern New Hampshire and the Northern Forest region,” said Shaheen. “Reauthorizing and expanding this program has been a priority for me, and I am very pleased to see that the final Farm Bill includes my bipartisan legislation to expand the NBRC to additional counties in New Hampshire, and includes additional funding to create jobs and fund development projects that improve quality of life in the region. I look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation signed into law and I will always work across the aisle to bolster this program that supports so many Granite Staters.”
“The NBRC has a proven track record of supporting rural development projects that are having a positive impact on communities in Northern parts of New Hampshire,” said Kuster. “I’ve long fought to strengthen this program and I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to increase funding for the NBRC and expand its reach so that more Granite State communities can benefit. I will continue to support rural development projects so that families and communities throughout New Hampshire can grow and thrive.”
Additionally, Shaheen’s legislation will improve the region’s capacity for high-impact community economic development projects. The reauthorization bill will establish a state capacity building grant program that will help develop projects that support business retention and expansion, access to high-speed broadband, critical infrastructure development and job creation throughout the region. Senator Shaheen has long advocated for the NBRC, and introduced her bipartisan reauthorization legislation in March. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen helped secure $20 million for NBRC in the fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding bill, which is the largest allocation given to the program since its creation in 2008. The funding bill also included Shaheen’s language ensuring that NBRC funds be directed to communities impacted by forest product plant closures.
As a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee and Agriculture Committee, Kuster advocated for the inclusion of language to strengthen and expand the Northern Border Regional Commission and has been a leader in the effort to protect the NBRC, which was singled out for elimination in President Trump’s budget proposal. Kuster has introduced bipartisan legislation, the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act, to continue funding for the NBRC for five years. The NBRC has funded numerous projects championed by Kuster including economic development in downtown Claremont, constructing a new treatment facility at Bethlehem’s Friendship House, and improving water infrastructure in Bethlehem, Colebrook and Whitefield, among others.