White House Rural Council Blog
- Posted byon September 1, 2010 at 7:01 PM EDT
Yesterday I was pleased to receive the encouraging news from two USDA reports that illustrate the strength of the recovery in our agricultural economy. The 2010 Farm Income Forecast and Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade show a positive picture for 2010, and predict sustained growth for the future.
This recovery is a testament to the 2008 Farm Bill, to a wide range of efforts of the Obama Administration – such as the Recovery Act – to move the economy forward and to support the agriculture economy, and the hard work and resilience of America’s farmers and ranchers.
- Posted byon August 25, 2010 at 6:13 PM EDT
Devastation caused five years ago to the Gulf region by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita remains historic in proportion. It resulted in loss of life, families being displaced, homes and businesses destroyed, and communities left in ruins. In the midst of this great tragedy, USDA Rural Development lent their knowledge and time to assist in the immediate hours following the passing of the storms. It was a new, but critical role of supporting other Federal agencies in swiftly establishing 80 disaster recovery centers; assisting local residents and leaders as they faced unparalleled adversity.
- Posted byon August 20, 2010 at 5:13 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Administration officials are visiting state fairs all summer. See a map of where we've been so far, and hear from SBA Deputy Administrator Johns about her recent visit to the Indian State Fair:
Having grown up in Indiana, I know firsthand that there is much debate over what a “Hoosier” is, but I can tell you for certain that there were many at the Indiana State Fair. From the young 4-H and FFA participants that I met at a pancake breakfast, to the small businesses selling their products, and the family farmers displaying their livestock, Hoosiers represent the diversity and growth of the small business community.
- Posted byon August 18, 2010 at 5:45 PM EDT
I’ve spent the last few days here in Iowa, a state that I was honored to serve as Governor for eight years. Yesterday, I walked the grounds of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The fair is refreshingly the same each year, but also a snapshot of changing rural America. The food stands, midway and cattle barns are in the same place that they’ve been for years. We’ve sculpted a "Butter Cow" since the early 1900s, but now the young people all have iPods and Blackberry phones. Their parents have cell phones.
Like the state fair, rural America is changing each year in subtle ways. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents made their homes on small farmsteads and made their living directly from the land. Today, farming is more mechanized. Farms are larger, and fewer Americans call them home. Most people who live in small towns in rural America still feel connected to the land, but they don’t necessarily depend on it for their livelihood. The demands of rural America are changing, along with the drivers of the rural economy.
While at the fair, I participated in a roundtable on rural revitalization. The roundtable discussion featured some of Iowa’s top rural leaders, including Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang. We discussed our vision for developing a new, strong, vibrant rural economy; one that supports food production, but also generates renewable energy while safeguarding our environmental heritage. To help drive this rural renaissance, the Obama Administration supports quality health care and educational opportunities for all Americans, availability of broadband, and safe, sanitary rural housing. It’s what rural America wants.
At USDA, we are moving forward to meet the changing demands of rural America. Yesterday, I announced a major USDA investment toward the Administration’s goal: loans and grants to allow farmers, ranchers, business owners and producers improve energy efficiency, develop renewable energy and cut costs. Today, I will join Commerce Secretary Locke in announcing additional projects to bring broadband to rural America.
While USDA is adapting to meet the expanding needs of all of rural America, our primary purpose remains the same: to help those who live there prosper. Like the Iowa State Fair’s cattle barns and butter cow, some things at USDA remain constant, but we know that to remain vital to rural residents, we need to assist them when they ask for broadband and cell phone service, too.
Tom Vilsack is Secretary of Agriculture
- Posted byon August 16, 2010 at 4:30 PM EDT
Building on the President’s commitment to address issues important to rural Americans, Cabinet Secretaries and other top Administration officials are visiting state fairs this summer and fall to discuss ongoing efforts to:
- Support job creation;
- Improve access to health care;
- Enhance the quality of rural education and;
- Help strengthen rural America by working better with communities, states and the federal government.
Cabinet Secretaries and Administration officials have been talking to 4-H and Future Farmers of America students, seeing solar panels on a stick and checking out best in show dairy cows. Read more about the State Fair visits so far:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits the Delaware State Fair:
Reaching Out to Rural America: Meeting with Students at the Delaware State Fair (July 26, 2010)
Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari visits the Ohio State Fair:
Summertime Means Construction, Jobs for Ohioans (July 28, 2010)
USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk visits the Maine State Fair:
Grown Locally and Sold Globally: Creating Jobs Through Agricultural Exports (August 6, 2010)
- Posted byon August 12, 2010 at 11:16 AM EDT
Last week I took part in an American tradition: visiting the Wisconsin State Fair. The Wisconsin State Fair and state fairs throughout the country are a cherished summertime experience for rural America - a place where old friends and old traditions go hand-in-hand with the latest innovations. In a solar powered building, I sampled my first cheese curds. I visited Senator Herb Kohl's family's flavored milk stand and had some of the Fair's famous cream puffs. And I saw the Fair's "solar panel on a stick" - a rotating solar panel that follows the sun - an investment that has already paid for itself in utility savings.
Something else was on display as well: the value that our great outdoors and green spaces have for millions of Americans. The environment is the foundation of the economy for the farmers and ranchers I met at the fair, the people who live off the land. It's part of the culture for the women and men who love to fish and hunt. And it's a way of life for the 60 million Americans living in small towns and rural areas throughout the country. Though they may not call themselves "environmentalists," these Americans are playing an important part in protecting critical natural resources, using sustainable techniques to preserve our environment, and leading the way in innovative clean energy technology.
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