Rural Development:

Federal Programs That Focus on Rural America and Its Economic Development

RCED-89-56BR: Published: Jan 19, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 21, 1989.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed descriptive information and financial data on federal programs to: (1) attempt to define rural America and rural development; and (2) determine the rural share of federal funding.

GAO defined rural areas as counties with urban populations of less than 20,000 and rural-development-type programs as those pursuing economic development purposes or having a rural focus. GAO found that: (1) 2,097 of the 3,096 U.S. counties, with 16 percent of the U.S. population, were rural; (2) about 17 percent of federal domestic funding went directly to rural counties; (3) Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs provided the highest percentage of program funds going directly to rural counties, while housing and energy programs provided the lowest; (4) 88 programs were rural-development-type programs and provided total funding of about $29 billion in fiscal year 1987; (5) 48 of the 88 programs provided about $17 billion directly to rural counties; and (6) rural development programs covered economic development, agricultural assistance, infrastructure, and human resources activities. GAO believes that: (1) agencies could restructure and supplement existing programs to achieve a rural development focus, if desired; and (2) USDA had the broadest experience for implementing a rural development policy through the proposed Rural Development Administration, since it administered the greatest number of rural-development-type programs.

Sep 4, 2018

Jun 29, 2018

Apr 27, 2017

Apr 13, 2017

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 24, 2016

May 26, 2016

Apr 18, 2016

Mar 24, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here