WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday to deliver the keynote address at the first of five regional forums held by the White House Rural Council aimed at helping rural businesses boost exports.

“In 2013, exported food and agricultural products topped a record-breaking $144 billion and supported nearly one million jobs,” said Vilsack, who co-hosted the “Made in Rural America” event along with the Appalachian Regional Commission. “With the success of agricultural exports, we know that other rural businesses such as manufacturers, service providers, and value-added producers have much to offer the world market and the ability to grow and create jobs when their exports are increased.”

Several businesses with “export successes” were highlighted at the event, including Ziegler Brothers Inc. of Gardners, Pennsylvania, population 150. The company manufactures specialty animal feeds, aquaculture feeds for fish and shrimp farms, feeds for pet exotic animals and specialty diets for animals that have served as health models in research since 1935. The Ziegler Brothers ship products to over 40 countries, with exports accounting for about 50 percent of the company's overall sales.

At the forum, administration officials promoted BusinessUSA.gov, a dedicated web portal to help rural businesses exploit export opportunities. The site, which allows businesses to search information and resources from 24 federal agencies, has had over 5 million page views, officials said. 

The next forum is scheduled for July 18 in the Memphis, Tennessee, region and will be hosted by the Delta Regional Authority and keynoted by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The other forums will be headlined by Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet, Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, but the dates and locations have yet to be chosen.

The forums are part of the Made in Rural America Export and Investment Initiative that was created earlier this year by President Obama to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new markets abroad.


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