Related Rural Blog Posts

  • Investing in Rural Kids Is an Investment in Our Future

    Latta Groundbreaking

    State Director Vernita F. Dore, and Tammye Treviño, Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities Programs at the Latta Groundbreaking. The schoolchildren pictured above will be the first class in the new pre-kindergarten through second-grade facility in Latta, South Carolina. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

    "Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we build an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead? ... This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules."

    -- President Obama, January 31, 2015

    The American Dream is a dream of opportunity for a better future. Who better represents this opportunity than our country’s children? As parents and as leaders, we owe it to our kids to provide them access to education, housing and health care, and most importantly, an opportunity to succeed so they can help our nation compete in a 21st century economy.

    In small towns and rural communities, kids living in poverty often miss out on these opportunities. They are often isolated and have limited access to support services. School may be miles away, the health care clinic miles in the other direction and the nearest grocery store in yet another direction. Public transportation options are limited, and the family car may be in the shop. Rent might be hard to meet and college might seem to be only a dream.

    Our kids are the most important assets we have for building the future economy, and it is essential to make sure rural kids growing up in poverty can reach their full potential. Investing in rural children and their families is critical not just to the long-term success of our rural communities, but to our global competitiveness. Studies indicate that we spend an estimated $500 billion each year on expenses related to child poverty. Imagine if we could use even a fraction of that in smarter ways to serve our children.

    Since President Obama convened the White House Rural Council four years ago, we have made tremendous progress in creating new opportunities for rural businesses and communities to thrive and grow. As these opportunities expand, we now need to ensure that they are available to everyone. To that end, the White House Rural Council convened last week to explore how the Administration can better coordinate and target efforts so that rural families living in poverty have the best chance to climb into the middle class.

  • New Approach to Conservation Creates New Partnerships, New Jobs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.

    When USDA unveiled the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program last year, I said that this effort would pioneer a new era of conservation. As of today, the program is doing just that — leveraging an unprecedented three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar investment in projects to preserve clean land and water and create new jobs across the country.

    One of the innovative programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program brings a wide variety of new partners together — from private businesses, to universities, to local and tribal governments, to non-profit organizations and more — to develop their own action plans and to pledge their own resources to the project. Local organizations are in the driver’s seat, setting priorities and developing conservation projects that make sense for their communities.

    The response to this new approach to conservation projects was overwhelming. Earlier this year, when local partnerships submitted their plans to USDA, they requested more than six times the amount of available funding in the first round. This incredible response is a call to action and it shows how much need there is for a program like RCPP.

  • 2014: A Year of Action, Partnership, and Innovation at USDA

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.

    This has been a tremendous year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the rural families and communities we serve.

    Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden recently shared a reflection on her most inspirational moments this year. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at USDA over the course of this year, and I thought I’d take a moment to share just a few of our top accomplishments.

  • Local Food, Local Places: Bringing Expertise and Creative Thinking to Community Economic Development

    Around the country, communities are seeking creative approaches to integrating entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other place-based considerations into successful economic planning. Local food development can be one strategy.

    The White House Rural Council and six federal agencies have selected 26 communities to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of federal agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop specific local food projects. These efforts will make a significant impact in the communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative.  

  • Promoting Rural Opportunity by Expanding Access to Broadband

    President Obama has made expanding broadband access a key priority throughout his Administration. He launched the ConnectED Initiative in June 2013, ensuring that 99% of our students will have high-speed broadband in their classrooms by 2017 and that broadband infrastructure will reach rural areas. The White House Rural Council has supported these efforts to expand access to affordable broadband networks to support community benefits such as education, health care, and job creation.

    Just this week, the White House Rural Council hosted a dialogue with members of the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA members are rural, independent, telecommunication companies from across America. NTCA advocates on behalf of these companies to ensure that they can drive innovation and deliver service throughout rural America. Our dialogue was focused on NTCA’s Smart Rural Community initiative, which recognizes a small selection of NTCA members who are exceptionally serving their communities by using their broadband systems to improve health care infrastructure, education, government services, among other needs.

    White House Rural Council hosted a dialogue with members of the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association

    The White House Rural Council hosts a dialogue with members of the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association. (Photo courtesy of NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association)

  • What USDA Did This Week to Help Rural America:

    This post is the first in a new series that will highlight the work happening across the President's cabinet on any given week. Check back each week -- we guarantee you'll learn something that surprises you.


    Those of us who call rural America home know that there’s more to the rural economy than just farms and ranches. From bio-based products to rural manufacturing, the potential to grow and make innovative products in rural America is limitless. Most rural businesses are small ones -- and they support one in three jobs in rural America. Our loans and grants are helping those businesses thrive -- supporting reliable services like water, housing and broadband to make these same communities attract and retain a talented workforce. Collectively, these investments support the businesses and families that call America’s rural areas “home.” That's because we know that the better we equip those communities with the resources they need to succeed, the stronger our entire country's economy will be as a result.

    I'm proud to report that the Department of Agriculture did several really important things to help rural communities across the country this week. Here's a run down on what we've been up to. Take a look, and if you learned something new -- pass it on.

    Want to stay up to date with USDA? Follow along with us on Twitter at @USDA.