President Barack Obama unveiled his Rural Agenda last week.
Three core areas were identified:
- to ensure economic opportunity for family farmers;
- to support rural economic development;
- to improve rural quality of life
At the heart of the agricultural proposals is help for family farmers and
rural small businesses to find ‘profitability in the marketplace and success in
the global economy’.
Improved health care, education and infrastructure and a focus on
renewable energy form the basis of the rural development policy.
More detail is laid out in The Obama-Biden Plan on the Office of
the President-Elect website and you can get the ‘Market
to Market’ take on the Agenda via
Iowa Public Television
(Iowa being the State from which Tom Vilsack,
the Secretary of Agriculture served as Governor).
Looking back at
the Bush Administration’s 2008 Farm Bill, several themes have been continued.
These include the encouragement of production and use of renewable energy
resources, greater access to broadband technology; country-of-origin
labelling, conservation provisions for wetlands, grasslands, and forests;
support for organic farming; and enhanced infrastructure and health care.
Perhaps the greatest difference is in the focus on the smaller farms and rural
enterprises of the USA
and a fairly anti-agribusiness/large corporate tone to the Plan. As the video
shows, on the campaign trail, President Obama clearly stated that “we’ll tell
ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness but the Department of
Given the President’s roots as a senator from a rural, Midwestern state,
he has firsthand experience of America’s
rural issues – it will be interesting to see developments in the agricultural
and rural economies over the coming Presidential Term, as well as in the
A quick search on CAB Abstracts finds over 440 records indexed agricultural policy or rural development
relating to the USA and added in the last five Bush Presidency years. Will
there be a similar amount of interest generated amongst economists by the new
Administration’s collective thoughts on all things rural, or will it be
overshadowed by the attention that continues to be focused on the global
economic crisis and its impact on the farming sector and food security?