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Posts tagged: DOT

Agriculture and Rural Main Streets on the Agenda for Smart Growth

Agriculture and food system development were featured agenda topics at the recent New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, an annual conference sponsored by the Local Government Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and several other public and private organizations.

I went to the Smart Growth conference on behalf of USDA Rural Development to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to investing in the future of rural communities.  Smart Growth principles can offer innovative strategies for using scarce federal dollars efficiently to promote sustainable and sound investments on main streets everywhere, and are valuable in helping rural communities consider how to creatively use existing resources and infrastructure to serve and celebrate their unique identities. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Our Ongoing Commitment to Help Drought-Stricken Farmers and Ranchers

As drought continues to affect most of the country, our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of farm families who have been affected by this disaster.

Earlier this summer the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted quickly to open conservation programs for emergency haying and grazing, lowered the interest rate for emergency loans, and worked with crop insurance companies to provide more flexibility to farmers.

On August 7, President Obama once again convened his White House Rural Council and announced several new measures the Administration is taking to help those impacted by the drought. Read more »

USDA, Other Federal Agencies Join Together to Help an Iowa Community

Mention to folks that federal agencies work well together and you may receive reactions of disbelief.  Sometimes the federal employees, themselves, don’t believe it.  But there was a roomful of believers at a recent USDA Rural Roundtable held in Ogden, Iowa.

Iowa USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner (center, seated) and other federal officials, hold a roundtable meeting in Ogden, Iowa.

Iowa USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner (center, seated) and other federal officials, hold a roundtable meeting in Ogden, Iowa.

I held more than 40 roundtables across rural Iowa last year, modeled after the roundtables of the White House Business Council and the White House Rural Council.  These roundtables provided a great opportunity to talk with rural residents, business owners and leaders about the issues facing their communities – and the opportunities that exist. Read more »

“We Can’t Wait” to Improve Infrastructure

Today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Specifically, 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive funding that will help support local communities and drive a nation-wide economic recovery.  These grants are steps this Administration is taking now to create jobs, repair our crumbling transportation systems, and make sure our economy continues to grow.

At USDA we are particularly excited about the announcement because $150 million will go to critical projects in rural areas. These investments will help boost economic development and make rural communities more attractive for businesses. Especially in rural areas, our transportation systems have gone too long without repair.  By improving our bridges, transit, freight, and ports, we’ll support agriculture jobs and make trucking of goods faster and more efficient for our farmers and ranchers. Read more »

Regional Planning – Key to Rural Economic Strength

Both of us grew up in small towns, Kathleen in Greenfield, MA and Bob in Ancram, NY.  From our own experiences, we understand the challenges and the importance of a strong rural economy.

We recently visited Brevard, a town of about 6,000 people in North Carolina’s Transylvania County.  While there we held a White House Rural Council meeting at the Transylvania County Library with leadership from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the regional economic development commission AdvantageWest, business leaders from Asheville and Brevard, and several local elected officials.  We released a report from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, at Brevard College, which focuses on how the federal government can help rural areas to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Read more »