White House creates Rural Council

Published 6:54 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A healthy American economy depends on a prosperous rural America. Rural America is the main source of our nation’s water supply, and plays an increasingly important role in securing our nation’s energy independence.

But today, too many rural areas suffer from higher poverty rates than the rest of the country. To win the future for the nation—we need to strengthen economies in rural America.

President Obama understands this, which is why—since he was sworn into office—he has focused on driving economic growth in rural communities.

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And last week, President Obama took another important step for rural America, creating a White House Rural Council, designed to build on the Administration’s robust economic strategy and make sure that federal investments in rural communities create maximum benefit for rural Americans.

Since coming to office, the Obama administration has taken historic action to build thriving economies and improve the quality of life in rural areas. At his direction, USDA and the rest of the federal government have built and modernized critical rural infrastructure—providing broadband Internet access to millions of rural Americans and improving roads, bridges and wastewater systems. We have expanded educational opportunities and made quality health care more affordable for rural families. And we are embracing innovation, promoting the domestic production of renewable energy and new regional and local markets for America’s farmers and ranchers.

These unparalleled investments are helping drive job creation in small towns across the county. And they are laying the foundation for rural communities that are thriving economically with more opportunities for families and young people.

But there is more work to be done.

The Rural Council—which I chair—will focus on new and existing strategies to improve the quality of life while promoting job creation and economic growth in rural America.

We will help drive innovation and capitalize on emerging opportunities like renewable energy and better uses of our natural resources. We will help rural communities connect regionally to collaborate, increase productivity and build thriving economies. And we will explore new ways to foster capital investment in rural areas so rural businesses can expand and create jobs.

President Obama’s goal is simple. He wants parents across rural America to be able to look their children in the eye across the dinner table and tell them about the jobs, promise and opportunities that will await them in their hometowns when they grow up. The White House Rural Council is one more step toward supporting the enormous economic potential of rural America. Because when rural economies are thriving and rural communities are some of the best places to live, work and raise a family, it benefits our nation as a whole.

Tom Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary