The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included broad support for rural communities.
- The Recovery Act provides USDA with a total of $27.6 billion, most of which will fund increased benefits to low income families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ($20 billion);
- The Act also provides $6.9 billion in discretionary appropriations for rural development activities such as construction and renovation of rural water and wastewater systems, low income housing loans, broadband infrastructure in rural areas, rural business programs, and construction of Forest Service facilities;
- The Act provides $800 million for biofuels research and development, loan guarantees for renewable power projects, including biomass facilities, and extends tax credits for biomass-based electricity for three additional years; and,
- The Act provides $700 million in mandatory farm disaster assistance.
President Obama believes in nurturing strong, robust, and vibrant rural communities. These communities also safeguard our environmental heritage, supply our food, and play a growing role in science and innovation. Today, rural communities face numerous challenges but also enormous economic opportunities. President Obama believes that together we can ensure a bright future for rural America. He will work to help family farmers and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy.
Support Strong Farm and Rural Economic Development
The President believes farm programs should target family farmers and provide the stability and predictability they need. President Obama believes that American farmers should have protection from market disruptions and weather disasters. At the same time, farm program effectiveness should be improved through restrictions on commodity payments to wealthy farmers. The President also supports the implementation of a commodity program payment limit, which will help ensure that payments are made only to those that most need them.
The President supports rural development programs including microentrepreneur assistance, rural cooperative development grants, value-added producer grants, grants to minority producers, and cooperative research agreements.
Develop Rural Broadband Services
Modern technology is critical to the expansion of business, education, and health care opportunities in rural areas and the competitiveness of the nation’s small towns and rural communities. President Obama supports a comprehensive plan and substantial investments in the expansion of rural broadband so that all areas of the country have access to the tools for fair competition in a 21st century economy.
Promote Rural America’s Leadership in Developing Renewable Energy
America’s farmers have been on the forefront of the renewable fuels movement. The President has been a strong proponent for increasing the national supply of home-grown American renewable fuels as an alternative to foreign sources of oil. The President will ensure that the Nation’s rural areas continue their leadership in this arena by supporting additional loans and grants to develop domestic renewable fuels. His efforts will position rural America to produce and refine more American biofuels, provide more renewable power than ever before, and create thousands of new jobs across the country.
Invest in Rural Teachers
Teachers are the single most important resource to any child’s learning, and yet it is challenging to attract and retain talented teachers in the schools that need them the most – especially in rural areas. President Obama will ensure that teachers are supported as professionals in the classroom, while also holding them more accountable. He will invest in innovative strategies to help teachers to improve student outcomes, and use rewards and incentives to keep talented teachers in the schools that need them the most. He supports improved professional development and mentoring for new and less effective teachers, and will challenge states and school districts to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom. President Obama will invest in a national effort to prepare and reward outstanding teachers, while recruiting the best and brightest to the field of teaching.
Support Rural Community Colleges
Community colleges are mainstays of rural communities, and their graduates often remain in rural communities. The President is committed to increasing higher education access and success by restructuring and dramatically expanding college financial aid, while making federal programs simpler, more reliable, and more efficient for students. The President has proposed a plan to address college completion and strengthen the higher education pipeline to ensure that more students succeed and complete their degree. And his plan will invest in community colleges to equip a greater share of young people and adults with high-demand skills and education for emerging industries.