Related Rural Blog Posts

  • West Wing Week 02/21/14 or “Don’t Make Small Plans, Make Big Plans”

    This week, the President traveled to the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico, to California to address the current drought and to meet with the King of Jordan, and to Upper Marlboro, Maryland to announce an increase in fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks.  That's February 14th to February 20th or "Don't Make Small Plans, Make Big Plans."

     

  • Made in Rural America: Helping Appalachian Business Sell to the World

    Forty-two percent of the Appalachian Region's population lives in rural areas. President Obama’s Made in Rural America export and investment initiative presents a strategic opportunity to expand the region’s exporting sector, grow jobs, and ensure long-term sustainable growth. It is one more example of how the White House Rural Council works to provide economic opportunity in rural America.

    Over and over, my travels throughout the region have underscored the role that expanded export markets can have in creating jobs and strengthening local economies. Yet many small businesses in Appalachia view entering the export market as a daunting challenge, something they haven’t really focused on before. The President’s proposal is specially designed to help these rural companies get in the export game by connecting them to export information and assistance. These additional resources will strengthen the capacity of Appalachian business to compete and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century.

    Rural enterprises from across Appalachia have a history of demonstrating their competitive success in capturing new export opportunities. In September 2013, an Appalachia USA delegation of 18 home furnishing and wood product enterprises generated over $50 million in new export sales at the FMC international trade show in Shanghai, China. One month earlier, a 22-member mining equipment, technology, and service delegation achieved similar export success from their Appalachia USA pavilion at the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney, Australia.

    First-time export ventures are a challenge but they offer the potential of significantly expanded markets. At the U.S. Commercial Service 2013 Trade Winds Business Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Appalachia USA delegates from a small manufacturing enterprise in Sistersville, West Virginia seized the opportunity to make their first sales into the global market. It is small manufacturers like this who will have greater opportunities under the President’s plan.

    By creating a comprehensive strategy connecting federal resources with rural leaders and businesses to expand exports, the Made in Rural America initiative will bring new and welcome energy to Appalachia’s growing export sector. The President’s initiative will help increase the number of small manufacturers who can succeed, and it will help Appalachian businesses sell to the world.

    Earl F. Gohl is the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government established by an act of Congress in 1965.

  • Administration-Wide Response to the Drought

    On Friday, President Obama headed to California to tour drought-affected areas and talk to those affected by impacts of one of the state’s worst droughts in over 100 years. While there, President Obama announced new actions that the Administration will take to help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and communities being impacted.

    President Obama laid out these Administration actions while touring fields from Joe and Maria Gloria Del Bosque's farm that will lay fallow this year because of the drought:

    First, we’re accelerating $100 million of funds from the farm bill that I signed last week to help ranchers. For example, if their fields have dried up, this is going to help them feed their livestock.

    Second, last week, we announced $20 million to help hard-hit communities, and today, we’re announcing up to $15 million more for California and other states that are in extreme drought.

    Third, I’m directing the Interior Department to use its existing authorities, where appropriate, to give water contractors flexibility to meet their obligations. 

    And fourth, I’m directing all federal facilities in California to take immediate steps to curb their water use, including a moratorium on water usage for new, non-essential landscaping projects.

  • This is “Not Your Father’s Farm Bill”

    President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

    President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, Feb. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, in East Lansing Michigan, on the campus of one of our nation’s first land grant colleges, President Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, or as Secretary Vilsack likes to call it – the Jobs Bill, the Research Bill, the Food Bill, etc.

  • A Farm Bill Will Grow Our Economy While Protecting the Environment

    The White House Rural Council recently released a report on the economic importance of passing a comprehensive Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill. The report outlined the importance of the Farm Bill to our nation and the many ways that the legislation affects and benefits Americans every day.

    One of those ways is by supporting the ongoing conservation of America’s natural resources.

    Conservation is the foundation of a productive agriculture sector and a strong rural economy. By protecting our soil, water and wildlife habitat, farmers and ranchers are helping to ensure that our working lands are wild areas are productive for years to come. They’re also supporting outdoor recreation for millions of American sportsmen. From hunting and fishing, to camping and hiking, these outdoor activities add more than $640 billion to our economy every year.

  • Introducing the National Drought Resilience Partnership

    Today, the Obama Administration is excited to announce a new partnership between seven Federal agencies that will help communities better prepare for droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on families and businesses. The interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership is part of the President’s Climate Action Plan. Federal agencies are already working with communities, businesses and farmers and ranchers to build resilience to drought on the ground, and this Partnership will enhance those efforts.

    Droughts are not new to many communities.  Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like droughts, storms, floods, and wildfires nationwide.  About two-thirds of the continental United States was affected by drought in 2012, impacting water supplies, tourism, transportation, energy and fisheries, costing the agricultural sector alone $30 billion and causing $1 billion in losses from wildfires.  During this disaster, the Administration provided all available assistance to towns, communities and agricultural producers impacted by drought, and the 2012 drought also highlighted effective planning and preparedness is to helping communities recover and prevent the worst impacts. We heard directly from states, tribes, businesses, and local communities that there was a need for a more accessible “front door” to make it easier to access Federal assistance. That is why the National Drought Resilience Partnership is designed to provide communities with a single point of contact to help them navigate various Federal programs to find the right one for their needs.

    Spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the immediate focus of the Partnership will be on creating a new, web-based portal to ease access to Federal agency drought resources, hosting more frequent regional drought outlook forums to continue to hear directly from communities, and supporting the coordination of a national soil moisture monitoring network to help improve monitoring and forecasting drought conditions. In collaboration with local, state and regional governments, the Partnership will also undertake a pilot project in a western area hard hit by drought to create a local-scale drought resilience plan that could be applied in other areas.  

    This Partnership reflects the work of the White House Rural Council, and it also follows the President’s November 2013 Executive Order on preparing our communities for the impacts of climate change.  That Executive Order created a Task Force of state, local and tribal leaders to advise the Administration on steps the Federal Government can take to help communities increase preparedness, and committed Federal agencies to examining their programs and policies to make it easier for states and communities to build resilience against storms, droughts and other weather extremes. 

    As we face increasing challenges from severe weather and climate impacts, it is more important than ever that Federal agencies work together effectively and efficiently to support the needs of local communities.  The interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership is another important step in our commitment to helping communities stay strong and resilient in the face of climate change. 

    Nancy Sutley is Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality