The Great Rural America Paradox
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau
A wise man once said that rural America has become viewed by a growing number of Americans as having a higher quality of life, not because of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have, like traffic, crime and crowds. This sentiment can be seen in the growing number of urban transplants that have made their way toward greener and more spacious pastures.
But, while many Americans equate living in the country with a simpler way of life, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that poverty in rural America is increasing, while opportunity continues to decline because of limited education, healthcare and broadband services. So, rural America being defined by what it does not have can also be a negative.
It’s the great rural America paradox.
Read Bob Stallman’s complete article…Its another good one! Worth the time.
USDA Seeks Applications for Economic Development Funding to Create Jobs In Rural Areas
USDA Office of Communications sent this bulletin at 03/05/2012 01:00 PM EST
|Release No. 0082.12|
|Jay Fletcher (202) 690-0498|
|USDA Seeks Applications for Economic Development Funding to Create Jobs In Rural Areas|
|WASHINGTON, March 5, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is seeking applications for loans and grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development. The funding is being provided under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program.
“Boosting access to capital sparks job creation and revitalizes the rural economy,” said Vilsack. “USDA works in partnership with cooperatives and utilities across America, and we intend to utilize this program to leverage federal and private investments to put rural residents to work.”
Eligible recipients are USDA rural utilities program borrowers. Those recipients pass the funds to local organizations. The funding is leveraged to create projects that retain or create jobs and upgrade public infrastructure. The maximum amount of funding for any one project is $1 million for loans and $300,000 for grants.
Organizations use REDLG funds to create jobs and improve services. For example, the Utilities District of Western Indiana received a REDLG loan and grant in 2011 to construct an elevated water storage tank and supply lines. The project will serve a technology park and two communities, creating nearly 400 jobs.
USDA plans to award up to $79 million in loan and $10 million in grants through the program. The deadline for submitting applications is the last business day of each month through September 30th of 2012. Applications must be submitted to the Rural Development state office where the project will be located. A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development web site,http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html, or on page 12792 of the March 2 Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-02/pdf/2012-5043.pdf.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs and for people who want to live, work and raise their families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. 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.
United States Department of Agriculture • Rural Development • Hawaii State Office
Room 311, Federal Building, 154 Waianuenue Avenue, Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone: (808) 933-8380 • Fax: (808) 933-8327 • TDD: (808) 933-8321 • Web: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov
Release No. HI-12-04
Chris J. Kanazawa, State Director (808) 933-8301
Timothy W. O’Connell, Assistant to the State Director (808) 933-8313
HILO, HI, January 20, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).
“Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” said Vilsack. “This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient.”
Chris Kanazawa, Hawaii State Director for USDA Rural Development stated, “USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program is the flagship energy program that responds to Hawaii’s energy-related issues and opportunities for farmers, ranchers and small businesses. Over the past three years, the USDA Rural Development Hawaii State Office has provided $1.1 million in funding for technical assistance, energy audits, photovoltaic systems, and flex fuel pumps projects for Hawaii’s rural communities.” This is in addition to $10 million in Rural Development Business and Industry loan guarantees for biofuel and activated carbon plant projects on the Island of Hawaii.
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs. For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. USDA is accepting the following applications:
§ renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until March 30, 2012;
§ renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications on a continuous basis up to June 29, 2012;
§ renewable energy system feasibility study applications through March 30, 2012; and
§ energy audits and renewable energy development assistance applications through February 21, 2012.
More information on how to apply for funding is available in the January 20, 2012 Federal Register, pages 2948 through 2954.
This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation’s natural resources.
The Obama Administration is working to promote domestic production of renewable energy to create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, combat global warming, and build stronger rural economy. Today, Americans import just over half of our transportation fuels – down from 60 percent when President Obama took office – but we can do more to meet the President’s goal of reducing our net fuel imports by one-third by 2025. At Secretary Vilsack’s direction, USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. USDA is conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries – including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities – and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. Along with Federal partners, USDA is establishing an aviation biofuels economy, and has expedited rules and efforts to promote production and commercialization of biofuels.
USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized by Congress under the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels. The Program is designed to assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.
To read more about the Administration’s renewable energy accomplishments, click here.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. 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. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).