Rural America faces tremendous uncertainty today. Congress has not yet passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and the current extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs will soon expire. Additionally, thus far, no budget has been provided by Congress to continue funding the Federal government past September 30.
Amid this uncertainty, USDA remains focused on our mission and on our work to revitalize the rural economy. We have delivered record investments under President Obama’s leadership, and we will continue working to do so. In a time of reduced resources, we’ve also taken a wide range of new, collaborative approaches with other government agencies—complementing our public-private partnerships and creating better collaboration among state and local partners. Read more »
Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, MI in June 2012. The Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. received two Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) DLT Program, that enabled Aspirus to grow their Telehealth infrastructure into communities in north-central Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. USDA photo.
This week at USDA we are celebrating National Health IT week by highlighting USDA’s ongoing efforts to expand modern health care access to rural America. Yesterday, we announced two new steps to improve health care for rural Americans – both through new investments in health infrastructure and ongoing interagency partnerships designed to better focus Federal efforts on rural health care.
USDA is expanding a partnership with HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of our work together on the White House Rural Council, to leverage funds and other efforts that will support advanced health care technology in rural hospitals. This partnership is an extension of a successful pilot launched in five states – Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas – to identify rural critical access hospitals in persistent poverty areas in need of advanced health care technology. For example, during the pilot phase of this partnership, the USDA Rural Development Iowa State Office, the Iowa Regional Health IT Extension Center (REC) and the Iowa State Office of Rural Health convened the first Iowa Rural Health IT Forum to expand care for Critical Access Hospitals. Read more »
Since the White House Rural Council was formed in 2009, our members from across the Federal government have taken a renewed look at many critical programs and services that impact rural residents, with an overarching goal to ensure that Federal agencies are collaborating to achieve the greatest possible benefit in rural America.
Today, I hosted a meeting of the White House Rural Council where we continued our focus on shared efforts to better serve rural America – from conservation, to veterans’ services, to rural development, to support for American agriculture and more.
Today’s meeting included a special focus on expanding rural access to health care. Rural Americans face unique barriers with regard to health care services, and new investments in medical facilities, expanded information technology and stronger veterans’ health care services can help meet these challenges. Read more »
Veterans returning home from overseas tours-of-duty face many challenges as they readjust to civilian life, and one of the most daunting ones is finding employment. Last year, a new program — the Soldiers to Civilians (S2C) Project — was started in rural west Tennessee to give local veterans the training and skills they need to enter into the field of precision agriculture. Thanks to grant assistance from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), project leaders will now be able to expand the S2C program beyond west Tennessee to help even more veterans living in the rural delta areas of east Arkansas and west Mississippi.
The expansion was funded, in part, through USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, which promotes development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno announced the award during a visit to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a bioscience-oriented nonprofit organization that is a partner on the S2C project. Memphis Bioworks is one of more than 130 projects in 30 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that are receiving RBEG funds. Read more »
Kentucky State Director for Rural Development, Thomas Fern, (grey suit) presents keys for new van to the Magoffin County Judge Executive and the Magoffin County Disabled American Veterans organization. USDA photo.
Parade formations, 21-gun salutes, solemn flag presentations are all an important part of the duties carried out by our nation’s veterans and their organizations as they help us remember the fallen and show support for our current members of America’s military forces. Each have engrained in their memory the wars or battles fought to keep our nation free and to ensure we live under a true and open democracy.
Recently, I presented members of the Disabled American Veterans in Magoffin County, Ky., a set of keys to a new transport van. Equipped with handicap accessible ramps, this van will ease the challenge of getting veterans to community events in their area. The van also will serve as a means of transportation for area veterans needing assistance with visits to doctor appointments and medical facilities. USDA Rural Development provided Magoffin County a grant for the purchase of this vehicle. Read more »
Military veteran Tyler Price, left, of the Student Conservation Association, and Josh Carr of Historicorps scrape lead paint off of historic window sashes of a Thornburg Farm historic building during a restoration project on the Uwharrie National Forest. (Photo courtesy Michael Salisbury)
Under a new program to help veterans re-enter civilian life and find career-oriented employment, eight military veterans visited the Uwharrie National Forest near Asheboro, N.C. as part of their summer program to gain experience in developing historic preservation skills, they restored a historic site of farm buildings on the forest.
“I recognized the importance of preserving these buildings for generations to come and am grateful to be just a small part of the process,” said Tyler Price, a veteran and history and anthropology student at California University at Fresno. Read more »