The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved a farm bill that would grandfather most rural communities that are currently eligible for Rural Housing Service loans.
Under the bill, current RHS-eligible communities in rural areas would be grandfathered until the 2020 census is completed.
The farm bill (S. 10) also raises the population limit for communities located in metropolitan statistical areas. The current population limit is 25,000. The bill raises it to 35,000.
The threshold increase will ensure rural towns within MSAs are still eligible for RHS single-family and multifamily loans.
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the farm bill by a 15-5 vote on Tuesday. S. 10 now goes to the Senate for further action.
Lenders originated $17.8 billion in RHS-guaranteed single-family loans in fiscal year 2012.
In other legislative developments, Louisiana senators attempted to postpone scheduled hikes in flood insurance rates to give victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy some relief.
During debate on a Water Resources bill, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) offered an amendment that would delay premium hikes mandated by the flood insurance reform bill passed by Congress last year. But Senate Republicans objected to the Landrieu-Vitter amendment, claiming it would force the Federal Emergency Management Agency to seek additional funding from Congress.
Landrieu pledged to continue to press for flood insurance premium relief through another legislative vehicle.