As Obama continues Iowa bus tour, USDA releases more rural funds

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

DES MOINES, IOWA, August 14, 2012 - As President Barack Obama continues with the second day of his three-day campaign bus tour across Iowa, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced another release of funds intended to boost prosperity in rural America. The campaign is working to draw contrasts with their GOP opponents, including GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who appeared at the Iowa State Fair yesterday---just hours before the president made an unscheduled stop at the same annual event.

Today, Obama is touting the importance of wind power and the extension of the production tax credit for wind energy companies, a subsidy opposed by his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. Secretary Vilsack announced $8.7 million in grants and loans through USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

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REAP provides grants and loan guarantees for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. For example, one of guaranteed loans will be used to finance a 50 kilowatt wind turbine for Andrew McCall in Washington County, Iowa to meet the annual energy requirement for nine homes.

For a complete listing of 106 project recipients announced today, click here:

Later in the day, Secretary Vilsack announced that 41 community-based organizations have been selected for $6.7 million in funding to create jobs and support rural business development, including the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The funding is provided through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI) which helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. For a list of recipients:

During stops in western Iowa yesterday, Obama toured drought-stricken farms and Vilsack announced plans to purchase $170 million in pork, poultry, catfish and lamb products for federal government feeding programs. For more on the meat purchase announcement, click:

The president accused Ryan of blocking passage of a new five-year farm bill.

"Unfortunately right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law," Obama said. "I am told that Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few days. He is one of the leaders in Congress standing in the way. ... 

Rep. Ryan made no mention of the farm bill during his stop at the Iowa State Fair, where he was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters and a few hecklers who tried to join him on the Des Moines Register “Soapbox” stage. But he wasted no time drawing attention to the president's record on jobs and the economy.

"One thing we've got to get straight is we're not growing this economy like we need to. We're not creating jobs like we can in America," Ryan said. He accused the president of making matters worse, and “spending our children into a diminished future. ... On Nov. 6, we're going to change that."


This report was revised at 5:00 am 8/15/12 to include an additional rural economic funding announcement.




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