Related Rural Blog Posts
- Posted byon August 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM EDT
A year ago today, President Obama kicked off a bus tour to meet with people throughout America's heartland for discussions about the economy. At townhalls in Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, the President discussed ways to strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in local communities and took questions on renewable energy, health care, and Social Security.
Check out a full recap here.
- Posted byon August 14, 2012 at 3:31 PM EDT
USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Boyle. “Last season, we donated approximately five tons of food to local non-profits. Our goal now is to top that.”
What makes these efforts unique is that most of the food pledged comes from a local source, Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden. Boyle and a small legion of volunteers donate their free time to grow fresh produce for neighbors in need. With hands in the dirt, these gardening enthusiasts cultivate a wide array of healthy fruits and vegetables. What’s grown is donated as part of the People’s Garden Initiative year-round ‘Share Your Harvest’ effort which directly supports the Feds Feed Families Food Drive.
The immediate recipients of the harvest are local individuals, churches, and nonprofit organizations such as the Cedar Manor nursing care center and the Bread of Life Food Pantry. These donations provide for those who may otherwise be unable to access fresh foods and help to build a healthy community food system.
- Posted byon August 13, 2012 at 7:08 PM EDT
Farmers in Iowa are among those struggling with the fallout from the historic drought. Almost half of the corn crop is in poor or very poor condition. The same is true for more than a third of the soy bean crop. Disappointing yields are in turn driving up feed prices, and farmers and ranchers are having trouble feeding livestock. And there are similar stories throughout the nation's heartland.
Today President Obama saw the damage first-hand and described a new effort to help livestock producers.
Touring McIntosh Family Farms in Missouri Valley, Iowa, the President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish. And the President is directing the Department of Defense -- which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone -- to encourage its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.
The goal is to give farmers and ranchers an opportunity to sell more of what they produce and save taxpayers money on food the government would have purchased for military bases, hospitals, schools, and food banks anyway.
"Understand this won't solve the problem. We can't make it rain," the President said. "But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we're going to keep doing what we can to help because that's what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other."
To deliver more expansive aid for those hit by the drought, President Obama said that Congress needs to act.
"They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty," he said.
But in the meantime, the President won't wait for lawmakers to begin helping those struggling with the high temperatures and the lack of rain.
- The Department of Agriculture is collecting resources for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis at USDA.gov/drought.
- President Obama discusses his administration's all-hands-on-deck approach to the drought in the Weekly Address.
- More information still is available at WhiteHouse.gov/drought.
- Posted byon August 11, 2012 at 5:30 AM EDT
President Obama discusses the Administration’s all-hands-on-deck approach to one of the worst droughts in more than fifty years.
- Posted byon August 8, 2012 at 12:01 PM EDT
Ed note: this post was originally published on SBA.gov, the official site of the U.S. Small Business Administration
Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.
Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.
To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
To find out if your county has been declared a drought disaster area, view SBA's current disaster declarations page. And to learn more about how to apply for a disaster loan, go to the SBA Disaster Assistance section of the SBA Web site.
- Posted byon August 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM EDT
Throughout much of the country, communities are struggling with one of the worst droughts to strike the U.S. in decades. The lack of rain and high temperatures have done considerable damage to crops -- particularly those in the Midwest.
Today, President Obama met with the White House Rural Council to discuss the steps being taken to help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis.
As part of that response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that it will provide millions of dollars in assistance to restore livestock lands affected by the drought. The USDA will spend $16 million on technical and financial assistance for those whose crops or herds have suffered.
The USDA has also reduced interest rates on its emergency loan program and worked with the major crop insurers to allow farmers to forego interest payments on unpaid premiums until November. The National Credit Union Administration also announced that more than 1,000 credit unions are increasing their lending to small businesses -- including farmers.