Obama signs Farm Bill, announces Made in Rural America initiative
President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law during a Feb. 7 ceremony at Michigan State University. During his speech, Obama also announced the launch of a new “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative.
The Farm Bill, formally known as the Agriculture Act of 2014, extends, expands and modifies federal agriculture and nutrition programs, including farm income support, crop insurance, conservation, credit assistance, trade, research, international food assistance, rural development and other programs through the fiscal 2018 crop year. The bill includes mandatory funding for a variety of energy title programs, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Rural Energy for America Program. Additional information on the energy title provisions is available here.
“Despite its name, the Farm Bill is not just about helping farmers,” Obama said during his speech at MSU. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill; an innovation bill; an infrastructure bill; a research bill; a conservation bill—it’s like a Swiss army knife.”
“[The bill] multitasks,” he continued. “It’s creating more good jobs; gives more Americans a shot at opportunity, and there are two big ways in which it does so. First, the Farm Bill lifts up our rural communities. Over the last five years thanks to the hard work and know-how of America’s farmers, the best in the world, we’ve had the strongest stretch of farm exports in our history.”
In addition, Obama said the bill supports about 1 million American jobs. “What we grow here and we sell is a huge boost the entire economy he said, but particularly to the rural economy.”
He also highlighted ongoing research and development at MSU, noting he had just toured a facility where the university is working with local businesses to produce renewable fuels.
Regarding the new Made in Rural American initiative, Obama said the program will help more rural business expand, and hire, and sell more products that are made in the U.S. to the rest of the world.
The USDA has released a fact sheet on the program noting the initiative is charged with bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.
The White House Rural Council will coordinate with the USDA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and other agencies to connect rural businesses of all types to export information and assistance.
Over the next nine months, the program will host five Made in Rural America regional forums dedicated to promoting rural exports and providing rural leaders and businesses with information about federal and other resources.
An Investing in Rural America conference will be held later this year to connect major investors with rural business leaders, high-level government officials, economic development experts and other partners. The conference will promote successful projects in energy, biofuels and bioproducts, infrastructure, manufacturing and others.
The program will also host training sessions for USDA Rural Development staff, provide enhanced export counseling for rural businesses to connect with foreign buyers, coordinate across the administration to promote rural-produced goods and services, educate local leaders, and use the BusinessUSA online platform to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources.