Leaders praise Obama's focus on Rural America

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

CHARLOTTE, NC. Sept. 4, 2012 - Rural leaders from across the United States, including Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, and Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana outlined the Obama Administration's accomplishments during a meeting of the Rural Council Tuesday at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

With record farm income and exports, a robust renewable energy platform and the creation of the White House Rural Council, Secretary Vilsack talked about how President Obama has strengthened Rural America, according to Rod Snyder, the National Corn Growers Association's Director of Public Policy.  Snyder also serves as President of the Young Democrats of America.

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In contrast to former President Bush, who vetoed a farm bill twice, President Obama has been forecefully pushing the GOP leadership to move a new farm bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, added Snyder. 

 “Vilsack has been a steadfast supporter of renewable fuels,” noted Corn Board member Keith Alverson, who also attended the session. The Democratic platform makes several mentions of “clean energy” but never mentions the word “ethanol.” But Alverson says he's not seen “any pull-back from this administration's support for corn-based ethanol.  

“The Secretary laid out a very strong case, in great detail, as to why the President deserves the support of rural America,” noted Marshall Matz, who chaired  the 2008 Obama Ag Committee.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson, who also spoke during the Rural Council meeting, agreed.

“The Obama Administration has been immensively supportive of the development of value-added agriculture through the renewable fuels industry and Secretary Vilsack has been a fabulous supporter, as well,” Johnson noted.



Plus, President Obama wants a new farm bill before the current one expires on Sept. 30.” Johnson added. “That's a big deal.”

Alaska Senator Mark Begich  highlighted the dedication of the Democratic Party to rural communities and the Obama administration's efforts to provide telecommunications and broadband access for rural communities.

John Carson, who leads the White House Office of Public Engagement, told the approximately 250 people gathered for the afternoon session that rural counties made a crucial difference in President Obama's 2008 election and will likely play a key role again in 2012.

Late Tuesday evening, Secretary Vilsack also spoke to representatives of major farm organizations and agribusinesses, gathered at the Mint Museum, at a reception organized by the Leaders of American Agriculture LLC.

"Agriculture is back again. It is cool again,” Vilsack told the evening crowd.

The former Iowa governor is scheduled to speak at the Democratic Convention tonight at 7 p.m, Vilsack launched his own campaign for president in 2006 and pulled out in February 2007. He later endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, but shifted to Barack Obama after she also withdrew.


Photo credit: Chandler Goule



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