USDA's State Offices Seek Ideas on Creating Jobs Throughout the Country
WASHINGTON, December 15, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will begin a series of roundtables and community forums on job creation and economic growth in states throughout the country. The roundtables follow the Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth that President Obama hosted at the White House on December 3.
"President Obama has asked USDA and other federal agencies to listen to communities across the country to generate ideas to create jobs and economic opportunities," Vilsack said. "USDA, which has offices serving every county in the nation, is taking the lead on having these conversations about job creation that will hopefully spur innovation, creativity and job creation that can help our communities to become stronger and more vibrant."
The roundtables will be hosted by USDA Rural Development state directors and Farm Service Agency state executive directors. Participants will include business owners, community members, state and local officials, union members, non-profit organizations, economists and other interested parties. Participants will discuss on steps that can to be taken to grow the economy and put Americans back to work. Some of the roundtables may be regional in order to focus on shared interests, economic conditions and cooperative solutions.
The primary focus will be on ideas to accelerate job growth in rural America. Some of the topics to be discussed are:
Exploring ways to rejuvenate and promote local businesses;
Creating jobs by rebuilding America's infrastructure;
Creating new opportunities from existing ones, such as with value-added agricultural products;
USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $125 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA's Farm Services Agency works to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Americans. Some of the agency's efforts include facilitating income support, disaster assistance and conservation programs, providing operating loans for the procurement of farm equipment, seed and fertilizer, as well as offering ownership loans to help new and veteran producers purchase a farm. FSA also works to procure various commodities to benefit low-income families through domestic food assistance programs.