Washington Week Ahead: A Rural State of the Union?

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan 22 - In the midst of a difficult U.S. economic recovery and highly polarized political environment, President Barack Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening. On Saturday, he previewed the broad themes that will be part of his new “blueprint” for America's economy in a video address to supporters.

Some of the themes were first tested during a speech delivered in Osawatomie, Kansas on Dec. 6, 2011 where he talked about a “make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.”

In the preview video, Obama's said his blueprint will also include plans for:

·         American Manufacturing - with more good jobs and more products stamped with Made in America.

·         American Energy - fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources.

·         Skills for American Workers - getting people the education and training they need so they're ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow.

 Together we can feed the Bees

·         And most importantly, a Return to American Values - of fairness for all, and responsibility from all.


When President Obama traveled out Osawatomie (population 4,400) last month, some of the rural residents and surrounding farmers found it odd that he didn't mention farming or U.S agriculture---one of the brightest spots in the economy --- or the importance of helping small towns through rural development. Expect that to change in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

After all, the President had a very organized rural campaign strategy going into the 2008 elections and it paid off --- capturing 43% of the rural vote compared to Sen. Kerry who won 39.8%. The margins of victory were even greater in several key battleground states. To win in 2012, the Obama campaign will need every vote it can find in rural swing states.

Last week, a coalition of 28 rural organizations reminded President Obama that, in his first State of the Union, he said “small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard” by the recession.

“As you prepare for your upcoming State of the Union Address, we ask you to remember the roughly 50 million Americans who live in rural areas. We ask that in your address, you publicly commit to working with Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill in a way that revitalizes the rural communities that form the backbone of our heartland,” wrote the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, the Center for Rural Affairs, the League of Rural Voters, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Development Organizations and 23 others.


For the full text of the letter: http://www.rcap.org/sotu2012

To watch President Obama's Preview video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX2lf4B1CaM

For more on meetings and reports this week in Washington, see the list below:


On Monday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

2:00 p.m., Senate convenes and begins a period of morning business.

5:00 p.m., Hearing: H.R. 3575 - Legally Binding Budget Act of 2011, House Committee on Rules: Full Committee H-313 Capitol

USDA Reports: Milk Production, Chickens and Eggs, North American Potatoes


On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:00 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President's State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving in a joint session with the Senate the President of the United States.

Legislation considered under suspension of the rules includes: H.Res. 516 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the passage of a fiscal year 2013 Federal budget is of national importance (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Nugent / Budget Committee)

10:15 a.m., H-313 Capitol Hearing: H.R. 114 - Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act of 2011, Host: House Committee on Rules, Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process

2:00 p.m., 2318 Rayburn HOB Hearing: A Review of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Host: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Energy Subcommittee

9:00 p.m. EST, President Obama's State of the Union address

USDA Reports: Feed Grains Database, Wheat Data


On Wednesday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 11:00 a.m. Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1173) the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011 Act of 2011 (Special Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Rules Committee)

8:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn HOB Hearing: A Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act, Host: House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Power

9:00 a.m., 1300 Longworth House Office Building, Full House Committee on Agriculture -Business Meeting: To consider legislation amending Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

   • H.R. 1840, to improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the costs and benefits of its regulations and orders.

   • H.R. 2682, Business Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act of 2011

   • H.R. 2779, to exempt inter-affiliate swaps from certain regulatory requirements put in place by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

  • H.R. 2586, Swap Execution Facility (SEF) Clarification Act

   • H.R. 3336, Small Business Credit Availability Act

   • H.R. 3527, Protecting Main Street End-Users from Excessive Regulation

11:15 a.m - Alexandria, Virginia, First Lady Michelle Obama will be joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at Parklawn Elementary School to unveil new school lunch nutrition standards.


•          Secretary Vilsack and First Lady to announce new nutrition standards for meals served in America's schools at Parkland Elementary School, Alexandria, Va.

USDA Reports: Poultry Slaughter, Cotton Ginnings, Broiler Hatchery


On Thursday, the House is not in session.


  Secretary Vilsack will highlight the President's State of the Union speech in Philadelphia, PA
•        Secretary Vilsack will keynote the 41st annual Delaware Agricultural Industry Dinner and also highlight the President's State of the Union speech  in Dover, DE
•        Deputy Secretary Merrigan will give a College Tour speech at the University of Florida on Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food in Gainesville, FL
USDA Reports: U.S. Export Sales, Citrus: World Markets and Trade, Capacity of Refrigerated Warehouses, Vegetables - Ann. 




On Friday, the House is not in session.


•        Secretary Vilsack will hold a State of the Union event in Kansas City, MO.
•        Deputy Secretary Merrigan will hold a press conference to highlight the President's State of the Union speech in Jacksonville, FL

USDA Reports: Dairy Products Prices, Catfish Production, Cattle, Peanut Prices, Peanut Stocks and Processing, Sheep and Goats.


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