In April, the White House Rural Council partnered with the National Association of Counties to announce the Rural Impact County Challenge, a call for at least 100 counties to pledge to create opportunity for children in rural areas. On October 25, we achieved this goal. These 100 community leaders will prove instrumental in addressing the opportunity gap for rural kids, which is so often compounded by rural counties’ distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse.
Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, include some of our most beautiful landmarks and provide the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country. Read more »
Some of the best stories about successful rural health projects are often from those who offer medical services, or those who benefit from those services. It was inspiring to hear from an Oklahoma woman who cared for her elderly mother, thankful because broadband and telemedicine services meant she no longer had to spend the better part of an hour sending medical data to a hospital over 100 miles away via dial-up service and then wait another hour for medication instructions.
USDA funding for broadband and Distance Learning and Telemedicine services helps connect rural communities to medical services and improve access to quality care from health care experts. For example, Norton Healthcare Foundation in Kentucky provides specialty care to patients in rural communities using telemedicine technology. Providers consult with specialists to determine changes in care and whether care can be managed locally. This reduces unnecessary transfers and allows patients to remain in their community where their support system is. Read more »
Getting Covered is Good for Rural America
It has been five years since the President announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed an agreement to streamline how our programs work together to support rural health and to improve the health and wellbeing of rural communities through the use of technology and health information that is accessible when and where it matters most.
In those five years, rural communities and rural health care providers in every state and territory have accessed USDA financing and HHS technical assistance to help improve local access to care and, and to support an interoperable health system. Read more »
USDA Rural Business Services Administrator Sam Rikkers enjoys a honey crisp apple from Leffel Roots Orchard in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
After 21 years of dedicated service in the United States Air Force, Jim and Laura Leffel looked to establish their “forever home.” Both natives of the Midwest, they moved to a small farm south of Eau Claire, Wisconsin to plant their roots, quite literally. Laura and Jim are now owners of Leffel Roots Apple Orchard, a 40 acre property that includes 2,500 apple trees and an on-site store where they sell bakery items, jams, cider, honey and more.
With the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Leffels will be able to expand their product lines further. Last month, I visited their orchard with Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind to announce the Leffels were among 325 recipients of Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) funding totaling over $45 million. Read more »
Ribbon Cutting for the Socially Disadvantage Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University
Day in, day out, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) brings programs to many farmers and ranchers as well as opportunities to students. As I meet with farmers, ranchers and USDA interns, a sense of great appreciation and anticipation wells up for the future of agriculture. One of the USDA offices that serves these farmers and students is the Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO). OAO staff connect with farmers, community organizers, veterans, educators and students to bring opportunities and services.
OAO works with community-based organizations to ensure access to USDA programs and services for underserved and limited-resource communities and farmers. A major program is the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program). Forty-five projects from organizations representing 25 States were awarded $8.8 million in 2016. This included a second year of $400,000 for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University. Read more »
House Builders Create Homes, Housing Creates Jobs. Click to enlarge.
When one thinks about home, they often think about warm meals on the dinner table, cozying up on the couch, painting the nursery, or even building equity in a place one calls their own. When I think housing- especially new housing: I also think opportunity; I think jobs.
Jobs come from laying foundations, installing windows, and making sure faucets pour water and lights shine bright. Most importantly, jobs go home at the end of the shift, and gather at that dinner table knowing local economies are improving. We have had 75 straight months of private-sector job growth in America, and the housing sector has played its part. Read more »