Related Rural Blog Posts

  • The Affordable Care Act: Making a Difference in our Neighborhoods

    Community Health Centers enable people to receive health care in the neighborhoods where they live so they can get high-quality care close to home. That’s why the Affordable Care Act builds on this model of care, by making critical investments in new facilities, doctors, nurses, and staff. This week, HHS announced new primary care sites in 236 communities for 1.25 million additional patients, made possible by the Affordable Care Act. These investments will make an enormous difference in people’s lives by increasing access to the care they need, where they need it.

    As you can see from the media coverage in states around the country, these types of primary care investments are critical for families who need care. Here’s just a sample of the coverage:

    AZ – Arizona Daily Star: New U.S. grant to pay for Sierra Vista community health care A new community health clinic will be operating in Sierra Vista by February, due to an unexpected federal grant of nearly $1 million. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that $150 million in Affordable Care Act funds will be going to 236 health programs in 43 states. LINK

    CA – Grants awarded for health center The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday awarded a $691,667 grant to Community Medical Centers Inc. to help it establish a new health center service delivery site. LINK

  • Growing the Next Generation of Agricultural Innovators and Entrepreneurs

    Agriculture Prize 2013

    Break-out groups at the Agriculture Innovation Prize launch event on October 2, 2013, in Washington, DC, reviewed agricultural challenges and brainstormed options for engaging with student communities. (Photo by Tom Boyden)

    On October 2nd, the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation announced the launch of a new prize that aims to inspire the next generation of agricultural innovators and entrepreneurs.  

    The “Agricultural Innovation Prize: Powered by 40 Chances,” is a student-led, student-focused competition established by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in collaboration with USDA and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Open to any student at a US institution of higher education, it will award more than $200,000 in cash prizes annually to the best proposals and business ideas that address challenges in 21st century agriculture, such as food scarcity and availability, transportation, and sustainability.

    This is an especially timely prize for several reasons. First, with fewer and fewer Americans living or working on farms, agriculture’s visibility has diminished even as the importance of America’s agricultural economy is stronger than ever. This declining involvement with agriculture is undermining the Nation’s ability to attract and train the next generation of skilled, US agricultural practitioners. By connecting students with industry veterans, professional societies, non-profits, and government and policy experts, the Agricultural Innovation Prize will help teach today’s students how to be tomorrow’s agriculture innovators and entrepreneurs.

  • An Update on the White House Rural Council

    Ed. Note: This blog post was originally published by the Department of Agriculture

    Since the White House Rural Council was formed in 2009, our members from across the Federal government have taken a renewed look at many critical programs and services that impact rural residents, with an overarching goal to ensure that Federal agencies are collaborating to achieve the greatest possible benefit in rural America.

    Today, I hosted a meeting of the White House Rural Council where we continued our focus on shared efforts to better serve rural America – from conservation, to veterans’ services, to rural development, to support for American agriculture and more. 

    Today’s meeting included a special focus on expanding rural access to health care.  Rural Americans face unique barriers with regard to health care services, and new investments in medical facilities, expanded information technology and stronger veterans’ health care services can help meet these challenges.

    While we look forward to a number of announcements in the weeks and months to come that are intended to strengthen rural health care capacity, the Department of Health and Human Services made two key announcements today in partnership with the White House Rural Council.

    First, HHS announced that tomorrow, $4 million will be awarded through its Rural Health Information Technology Program to recruit, educate, train and retain health IT specialists in rural America. These awards will allow 15 organizations across the nation to train more healthcare workers in the specialized technology needed to better manage records and deliver remote services in rural America.  As these services are expanded, more folks in rural areas will see streamlined management of health care records. Service will be more efficient. And it will be easier for specialists to help provide remote consultations through innovative new technology.

  • Collaborating to Deliver Healthcare, Education, and Outreach to the Mississippi Delta

    Sergeant Alexander Benton, of the 7214th MSU Troop Medical Clinic Detachment

    Sergeant Alexander Benton, of the 7214th MSU Troop Medical Clinic Detachment out of Garden Grove, CA, draws blood from a patient for lab tests in Blytheville, AR. (Photo credit by Sgt. David Thomas, 7229 MSU JBLM out of Washington)

    For the fifth year in a row, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), a White House Rural Council member, is partnering with the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide rural health care via the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program. Working in the Mississippi Delta Region, where today 20 percent of the population is uninsured, this summer’s missions are taking on a new role by educating communities about the new and affordable coverage options that the Affordable Care Act is making available beginning in 2014.

    Since 2009, IRT has brought military medical personnel in-training to underserved communities of the Delta region to provide free medical care to residents. DRA plays the vital role of guiding communities through the application, planning, and implementation processes. During the past four years, military reserve forces have provided general medical care, optical care, dental care, veterinary services, nutritional education, mental health care, and other support services to 24,000 Delta residents at ten sites across three states. And this summer, DRA and DOD are projected to reach an additional 20,000 patients in eleven communities across six states of the Delta – their most extensive outreach in the region to date.

    Take the Hope of Martin medical mission in Martin, TN, where troops from the Navy Reserves, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard provided free health care services valued at more than $700,000 to more than 3,250 residents of western Tennessee. Along with immediate care, DRA has partnered with another White House Rural Council member, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services, to help DRA as it educates and connect patients to new health insurance options that will help them access affordable coverage long after the IRT mission is complete.

    Another example is the Delta Medical Mission, which saw 5,771 patients and provided 10,000 resource cards at five sites over the month of July. And just this week, Army reservists were deployed to four communities in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee for the Four State Medical mission as well as to Ferriday, Louisiana, for the Louisiana Medical program. In just three days, this mission has seen 1,400 patients.

    Every patient served can mean a life changed. In Martin, TN, residents began lining up for services as early as 2 a.m. One man, so nervous to see a dentist that he was allowed to keep his dog in his lap, had tooth extractions that were years overdue. Another man was found in a hallway later in the day crying because, as he explained, with his new glasses – made on-site – “it was the first time he had been able to see the world.”

    The success of IRT is a testament to interagency collaboration facilitated by the work of the White House Rural Council and reaffirming President Obama’s commitment to rural America.

    Dr. Mary Wakefield is the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. Chris Masingill is the Federal Co-Chairman for the Delta Regional Authority. Doug McKalip is the Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council.

  • Media Round-up: White House Report on Fixing our Broken Immigration System

    Yesterday, the White House released a report that provides further evidence that commonsense, bipartisan immigration reform would provide economic benefits for our nation’s agriculture sector, our workforce, and rural communities. The report highlights the strong growth states’ agriculture sectors have seen in recent years and underscores how that growth can support other parts of our economy – especially in rural communities focused on agricultural development. In fact, in many of these communities, a temporary  worker program and an earned path to citizenship will boost farm output and produce other positive spillover effects. Coupled with a decline in native-born rural populations, the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on commonsense immigration reform that improves job opportunity, provides local governments with the tools they need to succeed, and increases economic growth. 

    In June, the Senate passed historic legislation that is largely consistent with the President’s principles for commonsense immigration reform with a strong bipartisan vote. This bill would strengthen border security, while providing an earned path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers who are vital to our nation’s agriculture industry, and a new temporary worker program negotiated by major grower associations and farmworker groups. If enacted, the Senate bill would result in undocumented workers paying a fine, their full share of taxes and is estimated to allow an estimated 1.5 million agricultural workers and their dependents to earn legal status. A diverse group of stakeholders know this: it’s a major reason why they are calling on the House to join the Senate in acting to fix our broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone — both from workers here illegally and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. 

  • FFA State Presidents ‘Suit Up’ for Agriculture

    Ed Note: Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack had the opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s brightest young leaders at the National FFA Organization’s State Presidents’ Conference. He discussed USDA’s efforts to revitalize the rural economy and recognized the officers for their commitment to leadership, personal growth and career success. Below is a blog post submitted to USDA by Clay Sapp, 2012-13 National FFA President. You can find the original post here.

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at a meeting of the White House Rural Council

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks at a meeting of the White House Rural Council to an audience of the National State President’s Conference of the FFA on Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Secretary Vilsack took questions from the audience and discussed international, national and agricultural production topics with the FFA State President’s. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

    This week is the National FFA Organization’s 2013 State Presidents’ Conference (SPC) in Washington, D.C. At SPC, state FFA officers are exposed to new ideas, meet new people and expand their perspectives as they sharpen their advocacy skills for tomorrow. Two officers from each state, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are represented at this year’s conference, which carries the theme, “Suit up.”

    At SPC, state officers undergo intense leadership training and develop a solid understanding of partner relationships. Their training is used to gather grassroots student input from across the nation on the future of FFA and agriculture education.

    On Wednesday, our state officers were able to learn about key issues facing rural America, agriculture and education during a White House Rural Council meeting. We heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, executive director of Let’s Move and senior policy advisor on nutrition Sam Kass and senior policy advisor for rural affairs Doug McKalip.