Related Rural Blog Posts

  • Women Are the Past, Present, and Future of American Agriculture

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    From historic homesteaders to contemporary cattle ranchers, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture heritage. We’ve produced food to feed our families, feed our neighbors, and to feed the world.

    The 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly 1 million women are working America’s lands. That’s nearly a third of our nation’s farmers. These women are generating $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales.

    Farm work isn’t the only way women are contributing to agriculture. We are scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians, and conservationists. We are in the boardrooms and the corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. We are property owners and managers. We are policymakers and standard bearers. Women are increasingly involved in every aspect of agriculture.

  • Announcing the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition to Innovate Building Construction

    CLT apartment buildings in Vaxjo, Sweden

    Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and other emerging wood technologies are being used in new construction projects around the world, like these apartment buildings in Vaxjo, Sweden. (Photo credit: Midroc Property Development)

    As part of the Obama administration's commitment to mitigate climate change, USDA, in partnership with the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, is announcing the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. This competitive prize, open to teams of architects, engineers, and developers, will showcase the architectural and commercial viability of advanced wood products like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in tall buildings.

    Advanced wood products are becoming the latest innovation in tall building construction. Products like CLT are flexible, strong, and fire resistant. In construction, wood products can be used as a successful and sustainable alternative to concrete, masonry, and steel. Using wood also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon and simultaneously offsetting emissions from conventional building materials. By some estimates, the near term use of CLT and other emerging wood technologies in buildings 7-15 stories could have the same emissions control affect as taking more than 2 million cars off the road for one year.

  • Second Made in Rural America Regional Forum Highlights Resources for Rural Delta Businesses

    U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill

    U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joins Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill to discuss the opportunities for exporting goods from Rural America to the global economy. (Photo courtesy of Delta Regional Authority)

    Last week, the White House Rural Council convened the second Made in Rural America Regional Forum to bring together local, state, and federal export-related resources for businesses and community leaders throughout the Mississippi River Delta Region.

    The Delta Regional Authority and its state and local partners from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas hosted the forum at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Northeast Memphis. The Delta region, with its entrepreneurial history, available land, and accessible waterways and transportation network, is primed to reap the benefits of increased exports and participation in exporting.

    More than 240 small business owners, industry representatives, community lenders, economic development officials, and community leaders attended the day-long forum. The forum offered business-to-business advice and best practices on expanding into international markets, highlighted financing resources, and facilitated discussion among regional leaders about how to incorporate exports into long-term economic development strategies.

  • Making the Business Case for Rural America

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the USDA Blog, see the original post here.

    These days, it seems like it’s easier than ever to turn a good idea into reality. This is the era of Kickstarter, where entrepreneurs can connect with potential investors at the click of a button.

    Of course, it takes more than money to grow an idea. It takes an atmosphere that fosters creativity and rewards innovation. And at a deeper, less obvious level, it requires strong, secure infrastructure—roads and bridges, but also internet access and community facilities like hospitals and schoolsthat improves connectivity and access to information, moves products to market, and makes communities competitive and attractive to new businesses and investments.

    Part of the challenge we face in rural America is that in too many places, infrastructure is outdated and cannot support the same kinds of opportunities that are easily found in cities and larger towns.

  • Addressing the Needs of Working Families in Rural America

    This was originally posted on the Huffington Post, and is part of a series of essays about the issues facing working families, leading up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014.

    You can learn more about the Summit and how you can get involved at www.workingfamiliessummit.org.


    Last Wednesday, I participated in a regional forum of the White House Working Families Summit that was held at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. Coming from a small town in Southwest Georgia myself, I can relate to the unique challenges that rural Americans face. Growing up, my father worked seven days a week on our peanut and cattle farm with help from my mother. To make sure our family had a constant source of income and health insurance, my mother also worked off the farm at the local independent bank. I am fortunate to be the product of hard working parents who provided my sister and me with the best opportunities possible.

    All families have a right to have access to a good education system, affordable healthcare and jobs. Our rural families are concerned about creating strong prospects for their children, whether it is on or off the farm. But it is also essential that there are opportunities that will attract young people back to rural areas and help us secure the future of agriculture.

    The Obama Administration is committed to providing opportunities for working families across the country. That's why earlier this year President Obama created the Made in Rural America Export and Investment Initiative to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.

  • June is Pride Month, National Homeownership Month: USDA Brings Homeownership Assistance to Rural LGBT Communities

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog. See the original post here.

    Lissa Biehn (left) with FSA and Ramona Mitchell

    Lissa Biehn (left) with FSA and Ramona Mitchell, Rural Development, discuss USDA’s dedication to civil rights in employment and program delivery at the Northwest Pride Festival in Portland, OR, on June 14.

    June marks the 2014 celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. USDA is taking this opportunity to recognize the immeasurable positive contributions made by the LGBT community — including our coworkers, partners and clients — to help rural America innovate and thrive, protect our natural resources and promote sustainable agricultural production to help feed the world. In addition, we are demonstrating our commitment to treating our LGBT customers and coworkers fairly and respectfully through educational events, outreach efforts and listening sessions across the country.

    June is also National Homeownership Month, and the theme is “Own Your Future. Own Your Home.” With concurrent Pride and Homeownership Month observances, it’s a great time to raise awareness among LGBT communities about USDA home mortgage and home repair programs that can help rural residents own their future.

    USDA plays a key role in ensuring low- to moderate-income rural residents have access to affordable home loans. Last year alone, USDA Rural Development provided $23.4 billion for the purposes of purchasing, building, and restoring homes in rural communities. These programs make it possible for low-income rural families to achieve the dream of homeownership. Ensuring that programs like these are accessible to the LGBT community is especially important as a recent study by the Williams Institute finds that LGBT adults are 1.7 times more likely than non-LGBT adults to be living in poverty.