Acting Deputy Secretary Discusses the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to Boost the Rural Economy
Anyone that is familiar with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows of the important role that our local delivery system plays throughout the country. Farmers and residents can visit the USDA Service Center in their area to receive localized assistance. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) staff in these offices often come together to highlight programs that each can offer and support projects in the area. This concept of One USDA was evidenced recently as representatives of these agencies welcomed the Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, to Illinois.
While in Illinois, Mr. Scuse joined the Illinois Directors of FSA, NRCS and RD to visit LaSalle County. The Acting Deputy Secretary moderated a roundtable discussion with administrators and students at Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC). Topics included the President’s Climate Change Action Plan, USDA’s role in renewable energy investments, and a discussion of the need for a five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Scuse said the bill is designed to continue the expansion of America’s rural economy, and that’s a primary reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible.
Following the roundtable, Scuse toured the campus, where IVCC is building a community technical center. In 2011, the college was awarded a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to help fund the construction of wind turbine training equipment that models the actual equipment found inside real wind turbines. The grant is one piece of a much larger project designed to accelerate the entry of students into the local workforce.
After his time at IVCC, Scuse joined local officials, including Ottawa, Ill., Mayor Robert Eschbach, to announce funding to help increase the attractiveness of the community’s downtown area. Scuse was in Ottawa to announce the award of an RBEG for a streetscape renovation project. The 200 block of West Main Street supports several small shops but, like many “Main Streets” in small town America, it also has some empty storefronts. Grant funds will be used to increase “curb appeal,” which in turn will help drive more small businesses and consumers to the area.
“USDA and the Obama Administration support efforts to create jobs and increase economic activity in rural America,” said Scuse. “We want local business leaders to know they can count on getting help from partners that can assist them in their efforts to grow, hire and succeed. This announcement demonstrates that commitment.”