Related Rural Blog Posts

  • Weekly Address All-Hands-On-Deck Response to the Drought

    President Obama discusses the Administration’s all-hands-on-deck approach to one of the worst droughts in more than fifty years. 

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

  • Assistance for Small Businesses Affected by the Drought

    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.

  • An Administration-Wide Response to the Drought

    President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council (August 7, 2012)

    President Barack Obama meets with the White House Rural Council to discuss ongoing efforts in response to the drought, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2012. Among those attending with the President were, from left, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    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.

  • Making Federal Resources More Accessible for Rural Communities

    Federal agencies often get requests from local governments and organizations—especially those in rural America—to make information about available grants and resources easier to access and understand. The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communitiesand USDA have just released a publication that does that. Federal Resources for Sustainable Rural Communities is a guide to programs from the four agencies that rural communities can use to promote economic competitiveness, protect healthy environments, and enhance quality of life. It provides key information on funding and technical assistance opportunities as well as examples of how rural communities across the country have put these programs into action to achieve their goals. With this menu of options, local leaders can more easily identify federal resources that support community planning, cost-effective infrastructure, economic development, brownfields revitalization, and other activities that are part of achieving sustainable communities. They can also see program eligibility and matching requirements at a glance.

     The White House Rural Council has heard from many stakeholders that keeping track of federal funding availability, researching program requirements, and completing applications can be a heavy burden for communities, particularly small rural communities with limited staff capacity.

  • Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - Across the United States

    Today, I hosted a Google+ Hangout with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to highlight efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems across the United States.

    The event was an opportunity to talk about local food with inspiring women from around the country, from Valerie Segrest, of the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe near Seattle, WA, who sees local and traditional foods as a way to preserve her heritage, to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD, who has made great strides in building her city’s local food system to increase access to healthy affordable food. You can watch the full video from the hangout below or on YouTube.

    The hangout also marked the launch of the 2.0 version of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. An innovative digital guide and map, the KYF Compass highlights USDA-supported local food projects around the country. The 2.0 version features thousands of local food projects in all 50 states and includes keyword and zip code search features.

  • White House Champions in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness, Let's Move Olympics, Google Hangout on Local Foods

    Champions of Change in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness Panel Discussion

    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan (middle) moderates a panel of Champions of Change who have made a difference in the way their communities combat youth homelessness, July 12, 2012. (Photo by the White House Office of Public Engagement)

    White House Honors “Champions of Change” in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness

    Last week, The White House Office of Public Engagement honored 13 individuals who have made significant differences in the way their communities combat homelessness among children and youth as Champions of Change.

    The Champions of Change series spotlights everyday heroes who are demonstrating a commitment to improving their own communities, their country, or the lives of their fellow citizens. We are looking for you to nominate someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community as a “Champion of Change.”