White House Rural Council Blog

  • What You Missed: Open for Questions on Energy Security with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

    On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the White House's Kalpen Modi hosted a live chat on President Obama's Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. Secretary Salazar took questions from viewers online, on Facebook, and college students from around the country who attended the event at the White House.

    Check out the video and use the links below to jump to your favorite questions.

    Download Video: mp4 (333MB) | mp3 (32MB)

  • One Year Later: Remembering the Miners of Montcoal

    Ed. note: This was originally posted on Work In Progress, the Department of Labor blog. Read another blog post on this topic on the Middle Class Task Force blog.

    One year ago today, in West Virginia, 29 men died in the worst mine disaster in 40 years.

    Wives lost husbands. Parents lost sons. Children lost fathers. Neighbors lost friends.  And a community lost a big part of its soul.

    Since that day, I have been convinced that the best way to honor these men is to do everything in our power so that a tragedy like this never happens again.

    The administration has taken many steps to make that goal a reality.  The Mine Safety and Health Administration (a part of the U.S. Department of Labor) has made available unprecedented resources to find out what exactly happened on April 5, 2010 and we are making sure that the U.S. Department of Justice can fully prosecute any wrongdoers.

  • Weekly Wrap Up: Healthy Anniversary!

    Your quick look at the week that was on WhiteHouse.gov

    Protecting Civilians in Libya: As U.S. forces participate in a U.N. coalition to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, President Obama spoke on the humanitarian importance of our mission in North Africa. He also answered questions from the media during press conferences in Chile and El Salvador.

    President Obama Confers With Tom Donilon, Bill Daley, and Ben Rhodes

    President Barack Obama confers with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, left, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, following a conference call on Libya with his national security team, in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The Affordable Care Act Turns One: On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the 12 months since, millions of Americans have benefited from improvements to the American health care system. WhiteHouse.gov had a whole week of coverage:

  • Weekly Wrap Up: Working with Small Business

    Take quick look at the week of February 21, 2011:
    Small Business Forum: President Obama travels to Cleveland, Ohio, to visit the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business. He met with dozens of small business leaders, and even stopped by a live online chat with Austan Goolsbee to answer your questions. Also, SBA Administrator Karen Mills chaired a breakout session on entrepreneurship.
    Behind-the-Scenes Video: President Obama hosts a screening of Thurgood at the White House movie theater -- an HBO film about the life and career of Thurgood Marshall, the remarkable Civil Rights lawyer and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
    Download Video: mp4 (27.3MB)

    Turmoil in Libya: President Obama says the violence in Libya is "outrageous" and "unacceptable," and that his Administration is looking at the "full range of options we have to respond to this crisis." Watch the video.

  • Working with Tribal Nations to Build a Brighter Future

    At the second White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 16, 2010, President Obama, numerous Cabinet Secretaries, and many senior Administration officials met with tribal leaders to continue delivering on the President’s commitment to ensure that tribal nations are full partners with his administration. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar delivered the opening remarks, laying out challenges facing the partnership between President Obama and Indian Country and emphasizing presidential initiatives in five main areas: (1) restoring tribal homelands; (2) building safer Native communities; (3) building strong, prosperous tribal economies; (4) fostering healthy communities; and (5) developing a structured and meaningful consultation policy.

    President Obama also addressed the conference.  He highlighted the progress made in the nation-to-nation dialogue since last year’s White House Tribal Nations Conference, while also acknowledging that a great deal of work remains to be done in Indian country. The President emphasized the importance of improving tribal economies and increasing the number of jobs in Indian country by investing in infrastructure, expanding access to high-speed internet, and developing clean energy initiatives.  President Obama also underscored the need to continue building on advances in health care and education.  He said that addressing health disparities in Indian country was “not just a question of policy, it’s a question of our values; it’s a test of who we are as a nation.”

  • USDA Announces Claims Process for Hispanic and Women Farmers

    Cross-posted from the USDA blog.

    Today is an historic day for USDA.  Working with colleagues at the Department of Justice, we launched a program that provides a path to justice for Hispanic and women farmers who believe they were discriminated against by USDA between 1981 and 2000.  Many of these farmers and ranchers have waited and fought to get relief, but until now their only means of getting their complaints heard was to file an individual case in federal court.  Today we are providing folks with a simpler path that enables them to file a claim for compensation that will be resolved by a neutral party without the involvement of the courts.

    When I was sworn in as Secretary of Agriculture two years ago, President Obama and I made a commitment to mend USDA’s troubled civil rights record.  Since then, we have taken comprehensive action to turn the page on past discrimination.  Last year we entered into a settlement with black farmers in Pigford II to address pending claims, and finalized a historic settlement agreement with Native American farmers under Keepseagle that faced discrimination by USDA.

    With today’s announcement, we are continuing work to build a new era for civil rights at USDA: correcting our past errors, learning from our mistakes, and outlining definitive action to ensure there will be no missteps in the future.  The process has been long and often difficult, but my staff and I have been working hard every day to make USDA a model employer and premier service provider that treats every customer and employee fairly, with dignity and respect.

    If you are a woman or Hispanic farmer or rancher and feel you were discriminated against by USDA between 1981 and 2000, you must request a claims package to participate in the claims process. To begin this process, you can either call 1-888-508-4429 or visit www.farmerclaims.gov to submit your information online.

    Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of Agriculture.