Forty-four rural development groups sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders urging Congress to pass a new farm bill instead of an extension.  The groups stated, “An extension of the Farm Bill will end mandatory funding for rural development, renewable energy and beginning farmer/rancher programs.  It will also eliminate the many positive policy changes found in the current Senate and House bills that will lead to greater return on federal investments and better projects at the local level.”  The groups asked the leadership to support the $115 million mandatory funding level in the Senate bill for the Rural Development Title and to reject the $1.5 billion cut in authorization levels found in the House bill.  Those signing the letter included the American Forests, National Association of Counties, National Association of Resource Conservation & Development Council, National Association of Towns and Townships, National League of Cities and the National Rural Development Council.