White House Rural Council Blog

  • 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.

  • Dr. Alma Hobbs' Story: Promoting Prosperity on America's Farms

    Ed. Note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights African Americans from across the Administration whose work contributes to the President's goals for winning the future.

    From North Carolina to Washington, D. C., my career spans over thirty years with the Department of Agriculture. I grew up in Farmville, a small southern town in North Carolina, and attended a segregated elementary and high school. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and commitment to service. The foundation laid by my parents empowered me to succeed in earning three degrees. I earned a Doctorate and Masters of Science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Bachelor’s of Science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. I have worked at the local, state and national levels. For me, it has been a long journey from the segregated south to the nation’s capital, but I am proud to serve in this historic Administration.

    My personal and professional goals have always been to positively impact the lives of people through education to ensure they are empowered to reach their full potential. Over my career, I often served as the first African-American or female in the positions I held. After the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act, I worked to integrate USDA county offices and took the first group of black 4-H youth to compete in a state completion. This was an exciting opportunity. Previously, 4-H competitions were segregated and did not recognize black 4-H groups. I later became the first African American to hold a senior executive position in USDA’s Extension Service. Agriculture is typically a male-dominated career, so it was significant when I was selected as the first woman to serve as an Extension Administrator at Tennessee State University. In that position, I provided support for research, education, and extension programs to increase the prosperity, security, and sustainability of America’s families, farms and ranches, business firms, and communities. The experience allowed me to become the first female Dean in Agriculture at Virginia State University. There, I was responsible for providing leadership for agriculture, human ecology, research, and cooperative extension.

    In my current position as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, I am leading efforts to transform the culture of USDA and carry out Secretary Vilsack’s vision to transform USDA into a model organization, positioned to meet the present and future needs of its employees and customers. During the State of the Union Address, the President laid out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. Through education and outreach programs, we are reforming and transforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century. It is an honor to be a key player as we improve management and transparency and ensure equal access to departmental programs at USDA.

    Dr. Alma Hobbs is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Weekly Wrap Up: Rebuilding America's Infrastructure for the 21st Century

    A quick look at the week of February 7, 2011:

    President Obama Meets Workers in Michigan

    President Barack Obama greets the employees during a stop at Donkers candy store and restaurant in Marquette, Mich., February 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Quote: "America has always used the building of our infrastructure networks to take our economy forward and to build out American industry. The Wireless Initiative is going to bring that to the 21st Century. It's going to take it to the next level, because that's the American way."--Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explaining the National Wireless Initiative on the White Board.

    Advise the Advisor: Your direct line to senior staff at the White House kicks off with a new video with Senior Advisor David Plouffe.

    Open for Suggestions: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to hear from you. Check out the new ConsumerFinance.govshare your suggestions for the bureau and watch video responses.

    Out-Building: This week, the President puts forward plans to build up the nation's infrastructure, investing in things like high speed rail, and expanding broadband access so all of America's families will be equipped to win the future: