Civic News & Info
Obama Administration Releases Report on America’s Agricultural Economy and Announces Commitment to Invest over $2 Billion in Rural Small Businesses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by USDA Communications   
Monday, 11 June 2012 09:15

WASHINGTON—Today, President Obama will announce investments to help rural small businesses expand and hire.  Home to some of the most diligent and self-reliant Americans, rural communities and our nation’s agriculture industry are vital contributors to employment and exports from the United States.  Strong and secure rural communities are essential to creating an economy built to last that rewards hard work and responsibility—not outsourcing, loopholes, and risky financial deals. While the security of the middle class has been threatened by the irresponsible financial collapse and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, rural Americans continue to come together to buckle down and make ends meet. The values that have helped hard-working, responsible families weather the storm continue to move our economy forward.  As a result, while there is still work to do, a new report released today details the progress that has been made in the agricultural economy.

 

“As we continue to fight our way back from the deepest economic crisis in generations and build an economy that lasts, rural America is helping to lead the charge,” said President Obama. “On farms and ranches; in towns and communities across this country, rural Americans know that we are stronger as a people when everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  Those are the values we need to return to, and as long as I’m President, my Administration will continue to give our rural communities the support and investment they need to show us the way.”

 

Last August at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama announced a new commitment to invest in rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, at no cost to tax payers.  Today, President Obama is announcing that more than $400 million has already been invested this fiscal year in these businesses through the Small Business Administration’s SBIC program, and that nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations across the country.  The details of the locations, amounts and industries in which these dollars have been invested to date can be found HERE.

 

Additionally, the Council of Economic Advisers, the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are releasing a joint report today, which notes progress that has been made in the agricultural economy and details steps the Obama Administration has taken to help strengthen the farm economy and support jobs and growth in rural America. To read the full report, click HERE.

 

Highlights from the report include:

 

•Innovation: Innovation in U.S. agriculture has kept America’s farms among the most productive in the world.  U.S. farm sector income reached a nominal record of $98.1 billion in 2011. Adjusting for general inflation, real farm income in 2011 recorded its 3rd highest level in the last 50 years.

•Exports: While many sectors of our economy are running trade deficits, American agriculture has enjoyed a trade surplus, with record levels of farm exports at $137.4 billion for fiscal year 2011. Yet, it is clear that still more can and should be done to boost agriculture exports. The President’s National Export Initiative has opened new markets for U.S. agricultural products and services and contributed to a historic level of agricultural exports.  Once fully implemented, free trade agreements passed under this Administration with Korea, Panama, and Colombia are projected to boost U.S. agricultural exports by $2.3 billion per year.

•Clean Energy: The Administration has pursued polices that promote domestic energy alternatives like biofuels, bioenergy, and wind power to provide new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and forest managers.  Pursuit of an all-of-the-above clean energy and energy efficiency strategy saved Americans a projected 6.5 billion kWh – enough energy to power over 590,000 homes for a year – and nearly doubled the amount of installed wind energy generation in the U.S. over the past three years from about 25,000 MW in 2008 to 47,000 MW in 2011.

•New Industries: The Administration has supported new industry diversification within the agricultural economy.  The retail value of the organic industry grew to $31.4 billion in 2011, up from $21.1 billion in 2008. The number of operations certified organic grew by 1,109 – or more than 6% – between 2009 and 2011.

•Community Investment: The rural economy has been strengthened by investments in over 6,250 new community facilities.  Additionally, over the last three years, 12,000 USDA grants and loans have been issued to assist over 50,000 rural small businesses.

 

 

 

 

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Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Friday, 08 June 2012 15:02

**Thursday, June 7, 2012**

 

CHICAGO – June 7, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bill:

 

Bill No.: SB 2348

An Act Concerning: Appropriations

Makes appropriations for FY12 and FY13 mandated expenditures.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: July 1

 

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Scott Co. Board of Supervisors Tentative Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Chris Berge   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:59

 
More than 185 Rural Organizations urge Senate to support Rural Development PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Elisha Smith   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:42

Lyons, NE - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 185 leaders and rural organizations from across the nation in signing and sending a letter sent to every U.S. Senator expressing support for Federal investment in rural development in the Farm Bill currently being debated on the floor of the Senate.

The letter states that one of the proven job-creating titles of the farm bill is the Rural Development title, which authorizes essential grants and loan programs targeted at leveraging local initiatives to spur growth and opportunity in small towns and rural areas.

“If passed as it now stands, this will be the first farm bill in decades to provide no funding for small town and rural development...” Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs


“If passed as it now stands, this will be the first farm bill in decades to provide no funding for small town and rural development. Rural development has already been cut by one-third since 2003, mostly by the annual appropriations process through which Congress divides up the budget,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “But passing a farm bill with no funding for job creating and community building rural development programs deepens that cut.”

The Center for Rural Affairs and other signatories on the letter urged Senators to correct this deficiency by providing robust funding for the following successful Rural Development programs: Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Rural Energy Savings Program, and Rural Water and Wastewater Treatment Backlog.

“This letter demonstrates strong support for programs that create jobs and assist beginning farmers, small businesses and small towns across rural America,” added Hassebrook.

The signatories also urged investment in the future of American agriculture. Specifically, the letter noted that, “The average age of an American agricultural producer today is 57, and if we let current trends go unchecked, that number will only increase.  Providing training and technical assistance to the next generation of farmers can help buck the trend and ensure future food security.”

However, according to the letter, the Farm Bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee falls far short of maintaining current investment in the training tools that new and diverse farmers need to succeed.

“And that is why we are urging Senators to provide robust mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged and Minority Producers (Section 2501 program),” Hassebrook explained.

The complete letter, including signatories is available here: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/Support-Letter-Brown-Amendment.pdf

 
Quad Cities Chapter of USCPFA Meets for Panel Discussion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Vince Thomas   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:17
A research engineer, a restaurant owner and a political science professor discussed their life in China before immigrating to this country and their life here since then, describing the people of the Quad Cities as “warm and friendly”.

The three were featured speakers at a recent discussion of the Quad Cities Chapter of the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA) in the Bettendorf Library on June 2.

All three agreed they are happy to be in the United States, even though they are concerned about members of their families and friends who are still in China.

Deere & Co., research engineer, Dr. Michael Zhang, said that even though salaries were very low in China, the cost of living was also low in 1990. He said he enjoyed the freedom of expanding his knowledge and use of his talents without government restrictions.

Pin Wah, owner of Ming Wah restaurant in Moline, explained she had come here from China at a young age, but still has difficulty in learning the language. However, that was not a barrier in learning the business from her relatives and finally becoming owner of her restaurant. She said she knows many customers by name and enjoys having conversations with them. Members praised her for her many donations and volunteering at community affairs.

Dr. Xiaowen Zhang of Augustana College, a professor of political science, said she immigrated because she wanted to expand her horizons, even though it disappointed her parents. She has traveled extensively, and finds her students and faculty friendly.

However, Dr. Zhang is concerned that the process of integrating into the community is not easily achieved for newcomers. She said local residents need to know that despite cultural differences, the ordinary citizens of China and this country have very much in common.

Picking up on this comment, Dr. Michael Zhang said that people in China and the U.S. should be concerned that “politicians” in both countries seem to keep the ordinary people of both countries apart for their own benefit.

He pointed out that many Chinese still understand and appreciate the role the U.S. played in befriending China during World War II. He urged those present to make every effort to inform their legislators that the two countries should continue to remain friends and not to be dissuaded by those who “beat the drums of war.”

Yan Li, president of the local Quad Cities Chapter USCPFA, said all the members of the group should consider themselves “ambassadors” of China. That is, even though they are now settled in this country, they should help in bringing a better understanding between the two countries.

Persons interested in attending future panel discussions are urged to be in contact with the association and e-mail Helen Chen: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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