President Obama has signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council, saying strong rural communities are key to a stronger America. Chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the council is to make sure the government is working together to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth.
"The objective is really focused on continued economic growth and job growth in rural America," Vilsack said. "Trying to spur innovation, trying to encourage more investment, looking for ways in which we can increase networks among those who live and work and rasise their families in rural communities, and also celebration of a sense of place."
The Secretary points out that The White House Rural Council is not just a Department of Agriculture function, but a government-wide effort that will include the entire cabinet.
"It is designed to not only to give us an opportunity to focus on what has been done and what needs to be done but also to listen to the people in rural America," Vilsack said. "There are going to be a series of workshops and roundtables throughout the country so we get ideas from folks about how we can do a better job of economic growth and job creation in those rural communities and how we can basically invest scarce resources in the most productive way."
With the Federal Budget top of mind for most Americans, Vilsack says the Council can help find direction by figuring how to leverage resources more effectively within the federal government. Vilsack says people are beginning to recognize the importance of rural America. He believes people know it is a stable and secure supplier of food.
"I think people realize that rural America is where a lot of good people come from and serve their country," Vilsack said. "Sixteen percent of population, 44% of the military; we want to make sure that there is a continuation of the next generation of young people growing up in that value system that's going to continue to support their country and serve their country."
Vilsack says we need to be back in the business of making, creating and innovating much like we've done in production agriculture. The Secretary said we need to figure out ways with the Rural Council to expand on those efforts.