Nunn, Craig introduce farm bill legislation to support rural small businesses

The Center for Rural Affairs applauds U.S. representatives Zach Nunn and Angie Craig, who on Friday introduced the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act of 2023. The legislation proposes changes to the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and would expand opportunities for rural small businesses for years to come.

RMAP benefits rural entrepreneurs who are unable to access credit from traditional lenders by providing loans and technical assistance through intermediary organizations, such as the Center. The program, which was established in the 2008 farm bill, has provided critical support to small businesses in at least 45 states.

“Rural entrepreneurship continues to evolve, and it is important that programs like RMAP do the same,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. “Representatvies Nunn and Craig understand how important small businesses are for rural communities and recognize what it takes to succeed.”

Nunn introduced the legislation alongside three small business owners and the Center in Ottumwa, Iowa.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our rural areas, providing needed services and a sense of community that drive the economy,” Nunn said. “As costs climb for businesses, we need to adapt to ensure additional support to these job creators throughout the areas that need it most.”

With language developed alongside stakeholders across the country, the legislation includes key program changes that would provide direct benefits to entrepreneurs. These updates increase the maximum loan amount from $50,000 to $75,000 and allow small businesses to use loan funds for construction and renovation projects.

“Raising the loan cap is a direct response to the increased cost of doing business since 2008,” Hladik said. “In addition, the legislation will make it easier for entrepreneurs to update and revitalize rural main street storefronts.”

If successful, the legislation will be included in the nation’s next farm bill.

“We commend representatives Nunn and Craig for their leadership on behalf of rural small businesses, and encourage congressional leaders to include provisions of the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act in the final farm bill package,” Hladik said.