This week during The Ag Minute, Chairman Frank Lucas, discusses President Obama’s newly established White House Rural Council and questions its intended purpose of creating jobs and economic growth in rural communities given the administration’s track record. Instead of adding another layer of bureaucracy to an already bloated government, Chairman Lucas argues that a better use of our resources would be for the administration to focus on job-creating initiatives that are already in play such as acting on the pending free trade agreements.
“President Obama recently signed a new executive order establishing the White House Rural Council to quote ‘strengthen rural communities’ and focus on job creation and economic development.
“But, haven’t we heard this before?
“Back when then Senator Obama was running for President, he pledged to have a rural summit in Iowa and to take action on a rural agenda in the first 100 days of office.
“To date, there has been no rural summit. No rural agenda.
“Then in the summer of 2009, President Obama directed members of his cabinet to conduct a listening tour of rural America. Only a few months ago, the EPA Administrator and USDA Secretary held their own listening tour across American farms.
“So, how have those listening tours produced jobs and economic growth in rural communities? Let’s consider the facts.
“Back in the summer of 2009, the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.
“Today, the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent.
“Back then, there were three free trade agreements waiting for the green light from the Obama administration that would expand market access for American agricultural products.
“Today, the President’s inaction on those trade agreements has cost rural America billions in lost sales and unnecessary tariffs.
“Back then, there was the threat of the EPA subjecting producers to burdensome regulations.
“Today, that threat remains with the EPA trying to regulate everything from farm dust to crop protection tools at the risk of putting many farmers out of business.
“So, whether it’s called a rural summit, a rural tour, or a rural council, those of us who live and work in rural America have heard it all before.
“And, frankly, we’re not buying it. We’re still waiting on the President to deliver on jobs and economic growth.”