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Posts tagged: Farm Service Agency

Partnership is Key at Idaho Jobs Forum

Job Forum Idaho“They want our Idaho onions” commented panelist Margie Watson, referencing exporting onions to Dubai for the blooming colossal onion for a steakhouse in Dubai, “but the paperwork is staggering” further discussing the challenges if the load of produce has to stop anywhere before it gets to its destination.  This discussion around expanding Idaho exports was just one of several points brought up by the over 80 participates on ways to create jobs during Idaho’s Rural Job and Economic Growth Forum on January 14th at the College of Western Idaho campus in Nampa, Idaho.

U.S. Representative Walt Minnick helped kick off the forum by announcing funding for USDA Forest service, creating jobs while supporting forest health.  Idaho Lieutenant Governor, Brad Little, stressed the banks inability to take risk due to capital concerns, emphasizing the importance of USDA loan guarantees to the economic recovery.

Gallatin Public Affairs, President and Partner, Marc Johnson, summarized the many key steps to jobs and business creation with a few key points:

  1. Partnerships and collaboration, however it happens, is the name of the game.
  2. Businesses have to fully utilize federal and state programs available, including but not limited to, USDA Rural Development.
  3. Importance of job training and education in rural areas while still being able to hold down a good job.
  4. Ways to incentivize the green jobs and utilization of natural resources in doing so. As we reinvent the way we do energy, rural areas must be prepared so they participate in those jobs.

There were several common threads throughout the discussion – innovation, education, financing, and partnering. However, it is partnering that seemed to be the most important because most, if not all, the ideas presented also involved partnering.  “No one can do it by themselves, need everyone pulling in the same direction” commented Marc Johnson, a statement supported by Idaho Rural Development State Director, Wally Hedrick, “Partnering is key to everything and USDA needs to support the National Rural Development Councils, like Idaho’s Rural Partnership, who can bring all the partners together at one table.”

The importance of partnerships is evidenced by this Job and Economic Growth forum.  The forum was hosted by Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Gallatin Public Affairs in cooperation with Idaho Rural Partnership and College of Western Idaho with participation of a variety of business across several industries, state agencies, economic development personnel, educators, and elected officials.

For those unable to attend, but interested in making job creation and economic development suggestions, ideas and suggestions can be e-mailed to with Idaho Jobs and Economic Growth Forum” in the subject line.  A video of the discussion will be posted at

Kerrie T. Hurd
Public Information Coordinator,
Idaho Rural Development

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth

USDA Rural Development and Farm Service Agency Hold Arkansas Jobs Forums

Rural Development and Farm Service Agency staff in Arkansas joined forces to conduct two Jobs Forums across the State.  These Forums were a follow-up to a national Jobs Forum held in December by President Obama.

The first Forum was held Wednesday, January 13, 2009, in the eastern Delta town of Forrest City, Arkansas.  The second Forum was held today in the western part of the state in Russellville.  More than 70 people attended the two days of meetings.

Panel members and the audience in both Forum’s consisted of representatives from the fields of banking, labor, manufacturing, economic development authorities, educational institutions, Mayors, County Judges, State Senators and State Representatives, the Office of Congressman Marion Berry, the Office of Congressman John Bozeman, the Office of Senator Blanche Lincoln, and the Office of Senator Mark Pryor.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, and Linda Newkirk, Farm Service Agency State Director, welcomed the diverse group to the Forums and urged everyone to participate.    The Forums were both opened with U. S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan’s comments regarding the Community Forum of jobs and economic growth.

The entire forum was captured on audio, video and pictures.    We collected many recommendations and suggestions from a variety of partners and stakeholders during the forum.  A report of all the information gathered will be submitted to USDA Secretary Vilsack and President Obama.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, making opening remarks at an Arkansas Jobs Forum.

Lawrence McCullough, Rural Development State Director, making opening remarks at an Arkansas Jobs Forum.

Submitted by Karen Petrus
Administrative Programs Director
Arkansas State Office

Technology, “Green Jobs” Spotlighted at USDA Jobs Roundtable in Tennessee

With unemployment rates above ten percent across the region, families and businesses in West Tennessee are especially hard hit by the economic downturn. Last Thursday, business and other community leaders met federal, state and local economic development officials at the University of Tennessee Extension Experiment Station in Jackson to discuss what can be done to speed recovery and create long-term economic stability across the state. Read more »

Interior Alaska Residents Turn Out for USDA Jobs Forum

The first of four jobs forums in Alaska, sponsored by the USDA Farm Service Agency and Rural Development attracted an audience of about 80 on Thursday.  Participants turned out in Fairbanks to testify about job creation, braving temperatures of -30.

Joining Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund and Farm Service Agency Executive Director Danny Consenstein at the Fairbanks forum were U.S. Senator Mark Begich; Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins; Fairbanks Economic Development Director Jim Dobson; Jerry Isaac, President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference and University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rodgers.

Nordlund and Consenstein told the group that the Alaska meetings, and those being held across the Nation, are a direct follow up to a jobs summit held by President Obama in December, and that a report of the Alaska meetings, and the other meetings, will be provided to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for presentation to the President in February.  The jobs forum included sessions designed to explore pillars of job creation, as outlined by the Secretary.

“We had more than 80 people show up on a frigid (-30) Thursday afternoon” said Nordlund.  “The jobs ideas were constructive, genuine and heartfelt. I’m sure the President and the Congress will welcome these proposals to foster our economic recovery.”  Consenstein said:  “Alaska’s rural areas have unique challenges.  Alaskans from the Interior had great ideas about how broad band, renewable energy and food systems strategies can create much-needed jobs in the region.”

At the start of the forum, it was announced that USDA has obligated $49 million in rural water grant funds to improve sanitation in rural communities and provide jobs to rural residents.  Additional forums will be held in Kotzebue, Juneau and Anchorage.

Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund (at podium) speaks during a USDA-Sponsored Jobs Forum in Fairbanks

Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund (at podium) speaks during a USDA-Sponsored Jobs Forum in Fairbanks

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth

By Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications

Rural Development and Farm Service Agency Hold Massachusetts Jobs Forum

Rural Development’s Southern New England jurisdiction received a strong response when we sent out the call to our partners, fellow community development strategists and business leaders to join us for a local jobs forum. Community and business leaders in our area told us they were eager for the opportunity to take part in a local conversation – like the national forum held by President Obama in early December, 2009 – exploring possible avenues for job creation in the region. Read more »

North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota Come Together for a Jobs Forum

Freezing temperatures, swirling winds and snow didn’t stop about 90 people from coming out and sharing their ideas with the USDA about how the agency can best create jobs and economic development in rural communities. The North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota offices of USDA Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency hosted a tri-state rural jobs and economic development forum on January 6 at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.

Congressman Early Pomeroy of North Dakota attended the forum and provided opening remarks. “I want to hear people’s ideas on how public dollars can best be spent to increase job opportunities in our rural communities,” Pomeroy said. “Strategies need to be sharp, focused and effective.”

Healthcare, access to capital and innovation were three key issues that a six-person panel and audience members felt needed to be addressed in order to get the rural economy headed in the right direction.

Panel members consisted of representatives from the fields of renewable energy, banking, labor, healthcare, manufacturing and American Indian economic development. The audience was made up of a broad range of interests, including farmers, mayors, and economic developers.

“Our biggest challenge is healthcare,” said panel member John Riskey, a mayor and BCTGM union president. “Right now healthcare costs prevent businesses from hiring more employees and force them to work existing employees overtime because it’s cheaper than hiring more help.”

A lively discussion also centered on the issue of access to credit and capital in rural areas.

“We need to do things to enhance the incentives for existing businesses to expand,” said panel member Jan Lundebecht, president of First Security Bank in Benson, Minn. “They’ve proven that they can succeed and they’re the ones that will keep providing jobs in the long term.”

An audience member also suggested that Rural Development examine the possibility of adding a direct business and industry loan program to complement its existing guaranteed business and industry loan program. The audience member said the combination of direct and guaranteed financing works very well in the community facilities program and should be tried in the business and industry program.

Panel member DelRay German, TERO director for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, said that America needs to get back to doing what made it great in the first place: Innovate.

“If people have a little appetite for innovation, you need to whet it, you need to draw it out of them,” German said. “How can community leaders help people be more innovative again?”

A mayor in the audience also stressed the importance of focusing on research and development. He said the innovation and investment we seek to help turn around our economy won’t happen unless government, banks and organizations figure out ways to fund research and development efforts.

Tri-State officials at the Jobs Forum in North Dakota

The tri-state forum was an excellent opportunity for the USDA to work regionally and bring a diverse group of people together to collect valuable feedback on the rural economy. North Dakota Rural Development state director Jasper Schneider considered the forum a success, but realizes that the hard work has just begun in helping the rural economy rebound.

“I want to thank everyone for braving the weather and participating,” Schneider said. “We heard a lot of good ideas and we’re going to be sharing each and every one with President Obama and the Administration. I hope we can continue to do similar forums in the future and hear directly from the people that use and benefit from the many USDA programs.”

Submitted by USDA Rural Development State Directors:

Jasper Schneider, North Dakota

Elsie Meeks, South Dakota

Colleen Landkamer, Minnesota

For a list of scheduled jobs meetings by state or to learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth”.