- Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America-


Next Week President to Host White House Rural Economic Forum


WASHINGTON, August 12, 2011 - Today, the White House Rural Council released a new report entitled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which lays out the economic landscape rural Americans face today and highlights the Administration's key accomplishments in rural communities.  The Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America report focuses on five critical areas: creating jobs and promoting economic growth, improving access to quality health care and education, fostering innovation, expanding outdoor opportunities, and supporting veterans and military families.


"This report on "Jobs and Economic Security in Rural America" underscores the commitment my Administration is making to rural communities," said President Obama.  "It highlights some of the many programs and policies my Administration has implemented in rural America to support economic growth.  It also offers a look at the economic agenda we will continue to pursue during my Presidency."


"This report highlights the importance of understanding some of the specific needs as well as unique opportunities found within rural America," Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack said. "It also presents vital strategies that can and will be used to seize those opportunities and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our rural communities." 

On June 9, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council to accelerate the ongoing work of promoting economic growth in rural America.  The Council is focused on increasing rural access to capital, spurring agricultural innovation, expanding digital and physical infrastructure in rural areas, and creating economic opportunities through conservation and outdoor recreation.


On August 16, the President and members of the White House Rural Council will host the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, as part of the President's three-day economic bus tour in the Midwest. The Forum will bring together farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities and small towns across the nation.  The President will engage directly with a variety of rural leaders from across the nation to discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America.


Link to full report here. Highlights from the report include :


  • The Administration has made significant investments in supporting job creation in rural America, including providing more than $6.2 billion in financing to help nearly 10,000 rural businesses expand, grow, and innovate, creating or saving over 250,000 jobs; providing more than $5 billion in farm operating and ownership loans to help over 35,000 small and medium sized operations; and expanding U.S. agricultural exports, supporting over 800,000 American jobs and generating a 35-to-1 return on investment.
  • The Administration has made significant investments in improving access to quality health care and education in rural America, including providing assistance to over 400,000 rural homeowners to purchase, build, or repair their homes; financing nearly 6,000 Community Facilities, including over 2,500 public safety facilities, 1,500 public buildings, 1,000 educational facilities, and 750 health care facilities; and providing nearly 9 million rural residents access to a safe water supply and sanitary sewer system and over 3.7 million rural residents access to new or improved systems that will deliver safe, clean drinking water.
  • The Administration has made significant investments in promoting innovation and investment in rural America, including expanding broadband access to over 7 million rural Americans, including more than 350,000 rural businesses; committing nearly $21 billion in loan guarantees to 32 clean energy projects that will create or save nearly 21,000 jobs; creating the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program which has invested more than $220 million in infrastructure vital to rural areas; and installing energy efficiency solutions for more than 5,000 rural small businesses, farmers, and ranchers to help save energy and improve their bottom line through the Department of Agriculture.
  • The Administration has made significant investments in expanding outdoor opportunities to create sustained economic growth in rural America, including enrolling 7.1 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program, which retires environmentally sensitive farm lands and has set aside 300,000 acres in the program specifically to benefit game species; partnering military with state and local governments, land trusts, and landowners to secure conservation easements through the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) which protects more than 170,000 acres; removing 86,927 tons of biomass from our National Forests to produce energy; and working with farmers to restore wetlands habitat on 470,000 acres in the Gulf coastal plain following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in order to conserve migratory waterfowl.
  • The Administration has made significant investments toward supporting our veterans and military families in rural America, including providing education benefits to over 215,000 veteran students in rural areas and 3,600 veteran students in highly rural areas under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill; investing in more than 500 projects across the VA health care system in support of rural health care, including 404 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics and 48 outreach clinics in rural areas, to provide primary health care access to nearly 3.3 million veterans; helping over 300,000 rural veterans and service members purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage through the veterans' home loan guaranty program; and challenging private companies to hire or train 100,000 veterans by 2013, and announcing commitments from numerous companies and organizations who have already stepped up to meet that goal.


The White House Rural Economic Forum is just one part of a series of more than 100 events held across the country this summer with senior Administration officials to advance the Council's objectives.  Here are just some of the past and upcoming travel and events related to the White House Rural Council:



HHS:  On August 29, Secretary Sebelius will travel to Alaska, where she will visit several remote towns and villages to highlight the rural health and human services needs of tribal populations. The Secretary's Alaska visit includes stops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Anaktuvuk Pass, Barrow, and Tanana.


DOI: From August 6-13, Secretary Salazar traveled to Alaska for a series of meetings, roundtables with business and Native leaders, and tours of key sites pertaining to energy, conservation, and Native Alaskan issues. In Anchorage, Secretary Salazar met with business leaders in Anchorage to discuss the need for safe and responsible development of Alaska's energy resources. In Fairbanks, Secretary Salazar toured the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service firefighting facilities with Sens. Murkowski and Reed.  In Alaska's North Slope region, Secretary Salazar visited an Indian Health Services funded hospital currently under construction in Barrow - the northernmost community in the United States - as well as the Denali National Park, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.



USTR: On August 18, Ambassador Kirk will tour the processing facilities of Blue Diamond Growers, located in downtown Sacramento.  There he will observe each step of almond processing from delivery to shipping.  Now 101 years old, Blue Diamond is the world's largest and most respected almond processing and marketing cooperative.  Blue Diamond's membership includes approximately 3,000 California almond producers, who grow 1.5 billion pounds of almonds, valued at $2 billion, every year.   California growers produce more than 80% of the total world almond supply, and nearly 70% of the almonds processed by Blue Diamond are marketed and sold to customers in over 90 countries.  Following the tour, Ambassador Kirk will participate in a roundtable discussion with California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross and California agriculture industry leaders.




USDAOn August 11, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will tour the INEOS New Planet BioEnergy facility in Vero Beach, FL.  The facility is receiving a loan guarantee from USDA Rural Development to help build and operate a biorefinery capable of producing 8 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol and 6 megawatts of electricity.  While at INEOS, the Secretary will announce a series of joint USDA and Department of Energy grants to spur research into improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of growing biofuel and bioenergy crops. 


DOT: On August 19, Secretary LaHood will visit the Illinois State Fair, where he will hold a roundtable meeting with rural farm and business leaders from central Illinois.  While there, he will highlight the agency's commitment to no new transportation regulations for farmers, and to continuing common sense agricultural exemptions to trucking and heavy equipment rules.  Secretary LaHood will also discuss the importance of road, bridge, rail and port investments to growing our agricultural economy and expanding exports.


USDA: On August 19, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will hold a Rural Forum at the Iowa State Fair with businesses and community leaders, farmers, ranchers, and Tribal leaders to explore ways federal, state, and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs.   As chair of the White House Rural Council, Secretary Vilsack is exploring ways to strengthen economic conditions, create jobs, promote innovation and improve access to essential community services in rural America.


VA: On September 1, Secretary Shinseki will host a rural roundtable in Des Moines. The event will include a roundtable discussion to listen to local concerns and highlight the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to expand access to VA care, benefits, and services in rural America.  VA has placed 12 community-based outpatient clinics throughout the state and established tele-health services aimed at meeting the needs of rural veterans.



USDA: On July 21, Secretary Vilsack and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance held a rural roundtable during Maryland Ag Day in Annapolis.  The Secretary met with Maryland businesses leaders, farmers and ranchers to explore ways federal, state, and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs in Annapolis, MD.



VA: On August 31, Secretary Shinseki will go to St. Paul to attend the State Fair. The event will include a roundtable discussion to listen to local concerns and highlight the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to expand access to VA care, benefits, and services in rural America. VA has placed 10 community-based outpatient clinics throughout the state and established tele-health services aimed at meeting the needs of rural veterans.


On July 27, Secretary Vilsack gave the keynote at the Council on Foundations 2011 Rural Philanthropy Conference in Kansas City.  The Secretary called on representatives of philanthropic organizations from across America to "step up, take risks and work creatively to create jobs, improve quality of life and make an impact on rural America." During his keynote address, the Secretary urged philanthropists to partner with the Obama Administration, through the White House Rural Council to drive smart investment strategies in rural America.


HHS:  On August 1, Secretary Sebelius visited the Learning Junction Childcare Center in Joplin, where she toured the St. John's Mobile Medical Unit, met with Joplin officials, and hosted a discussion on mental health, child trauma, and school planning.  Later in the day, the Secretary visited a Critical Access Hospital in Aurora, MO, where she met with hospital leadership and took part in a roundtable discussion on rural health issues.




DOI: On July 15, Secretary Salazar hosted a rural water infrastructure event on Crow Reservation in Montana to celebrate the recently approved Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement, which will ensure safe drinking water for the reservation as well as provide for the rehabilitation of the Crow Irrigation Project. The Secretary also delivered keynote remarks at the Land Consolidation Consultation in Billings, where he discussed the importance of creating economic opportunities in rural communities through conservation and outdoor recreation.  On July 16, Secretary Salazar hosted rural lands conservation and outdoor recreation events in Ovando and the Blackfoot River Valley to highlight community-based partnerships. Secretary Salazar also hosted a youth focused outdoor recreation and jobs event in Kalispell that focused on the economic impact of Glacier Park to northwest Montana.


VA: On July 7-8, Secretary Shinseki held three rural events in Montana.  The events were held in Helena at the Montana National Guard Armory, in Bozeman at Montana State University, and in Billings at the Billings VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic. Each event included a roundtable discussion where the Secretary listened to local veterans and highlighted the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to expand access to VA care, benefits, and services in rural America. Secretary Shinseki has made increased access to VA care in rural areas a top priority, and the department continues to develop new ways to reach veterans in rural parts of America. VA has placed several community-based outpatient clinics and established tele-health services throughout Montana.




VA: On August 19, Secretary Shinseki will join Sen. Ben Nelson to host a rural roundtable near Lincoln.  VA has made increased access to VA care in rural areas a top priority, and the department continues to develop new ways to reach veterans in rural parts of America.  VA has placed 11 community-based outpatient clinics throughout the state and established tele-health services aimed at meeting the needs of rural veterans. Plans are underway for a new $560 million Omaha VAMC to replace the 60-year-old hospital.  The facility provides a full range of patient care services, education, and research for veterans in a 104-county area of Nebraska, western Iowa, and portions of Kansas and Missouri.


VA: On August 17, Secretary Shinseki will host a rural roundtable near Las Vegas.  VA has made increased access to VA care in rural areas a top priority and the department continues to develop new ways to reach Veterans in rural parts of America.  VA has placed 10 community-based outpatient clinics throughout the state and established tele-health services aimed at meeting the needs of rural veterans. VA is expanding services in the Las Vegas Area with a new comprehensive VA medical center complex nearing completion in North Las Vegas that will have a $1.2 billion economic impact to the area and create 1,850 permanent medical jobs.


HUD:  On August 22, Secretary Donovan will visit a hospital under construction in Rio Rancho. A $143.4 million Section 242 mortgage insurance commitment was issued to finance the construction of the hospital in Rio Rancho, a suburb 20 miles northwest of Albuquerque. The new facility is affiliated with the University of New Mexico (UNM), UNM Hospital, the UNM Medical Group, and the UNM School of Medicine. The loan will finance a new 200,000-square foot, 68-bed state-of-the-art community teaching hospital with a high surgical case load on 20 acres of land.  At an interest rate of 6.0 percent, in comparison to an unenhanced bond interest rate of 7.7 percent, FHA insurance will save the hospital $64.7 million in interest expense over the life of the loan.  The construction project will support 1,877 FTEs in its community and provide an economic stimulus of $386.4 million during the construction period.  Following construction, the completed project will directly support 445 FTEs and provide a direct annual economic benefit of $85.8 million.





DOE: On July 25, Secretary Chu visited Celgard, an innovative and high-tech battery manufacturing company, in Concord.  Celgard recently expanded their existing manufacturing facility with support from the Recovery Act to create more than 200 jobs in rural North Carolina.  Celgard is one of the largest suppliers to the lithium battery industry, which are instrumental in increasing the capacity of electric drive vehicles and helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Afterwards, the Secretary was joined by local business leaders at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte for a roundtable discussion on the growing clean energy industry in rural communities.  Like Celgard, the companies that Secretary met with are critical to our future: to pioneering and commercializing technologies that reduce our consumption of foreign oil and creating jobs and supporting economic growth. 



VA: On July 5, Secretary Shinseki held a rural event in Bismarck at the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic where he held a roundtable discussion to listen to local veterans and highlight the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to expand access to VA care, benefits, and services in rural America.


CEQ:  On August 9, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley toured a Federal-County-State funded partnership with local business and conservation groups that is creating local jobs and building a renewable energy market in John day, Oregon.  Byproducts from the U.S. Forest Service's Malheur National Forest restoration project are used by Malheur Lumber Company and Pellet Plant to create wood pellets which are in turn used to provide energy to local schools, the local hospital and John Day Airport.  Malheur Lumber Company's recent expansion, financed in part by a Recovery Act grant, has allowed Grant County, Oregon to retain 6% of its private non-farm workforce. The wood pellets and bricks manufactured at Malheur Lumber will reduce energy costs by $4.4 million across the regional economy and represent the economic opportunities presented through conservation and collaboration between governments and local communities and businesses.




EPA: On August 3, Administrator Jackson traveled to Lancaster County and visited Jeff Balmer, owner of a 60-head dairy farm that is using a variety of best management practices to protect water quality in the community and further downstream in the Chesapeake Bay. The Administrator toured Jeff's farm and he explained how these practices allowed him to prevent runoff and retain soil, making his operation more efficient and sustainable. The Administrator also participated in a roundtable discussion with around 50 area farmers and leaders about ways to protect rural air and water quality and strengthen rural economies.  The Administrator pledged to continue communicating directly with farmers and other stakeholders in rural communities about the shared goals of clean air, clean water and increased economic opportunities rural America.




ED:  On August 10, Secretary Duncan traveled to Nashville to host a WH Rural Council roundtable discussion with several rural superintendents, school principals and business leaders, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, at Vanderbilt University. The conversation focused on challenges and solutions in rural schools and how the federal government could best support districts, communities and local partners to strengthen schools and increase student success. Duncan highlighted the ways education can transform rural economies and the opportunities that technology offers all students to receive a world-class education no matter where they live.



USTR:  This fall, Ambassador Kirk will visit the Texas State Fair, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary from September 30 to October 23.  Held annually at Fair Park in Dallas, the fair proudly displays the unique scale and diversity of Texas' people and products.  Millions of visitors from all 50 states and many countries around the world flock to Dallas each October to sample the best the Lone Star State has to offer in terms of food, fun, and entertainment. Featured attractions include the largest new car and truck show in the Southwest, legendary livestock exhibitions, major music concerts, and classic college football.


OSTP: On August 5, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra visited Blacksburg to discuss rural job creation and to hear from local entrepreneurs and business leaders about ways we can partner to spur job growth in rural communities across the country. Chopra toured two local startups, made remarks at an event hosted by the Regional Technology Council, and hosted a roundtable discussion with local entrepreneurs, business leaders, and other key stakeholders.


SBA: On July 14, Administrator Mills visited a high tech business that was named West Virginia's small business of the year in 2010. The business, Azimuth, Inc. located in Fairmount, was started by a service disabled veteran with an SBA loan and grew through SBA's 8(a) Federal Contracting Program.  Azimuth is an impressive manufacturing company, creating rural jobs of the future focused on protecting our borders.  It is a high technology services firm that is dedicated to quality, innovation, and performance and is a strong advocate of teaming, actively seeking to establish long term strategic alliances with both large and small firms.




USDA: On August 4, Secretary Vilsack held a forum at the Wisconsin State Fair with businesses and community leaders, farmers and ranchers to explore ways federal, state, and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs.   The Secretary took questions from the audience and highlighted job creation and how agricultural trade is contributing to Wisconsin's economy.


DOI: On July 14, Secretary Salazar keynoted the National Wildlife System Conference, where he addressed the Obama Administration's commitment to working with ranchers, farmers and other private landowners to ensure protection of large, rural landscapes and the abundance of fish and wildlife - and announced a new initiative that will spur these collaborative efforts through community-based coalitions of private landowners, conservation groups, and state and federal agencies. The Landscape Stewards program, a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will leverage up to $200,000 to support coalition-based conservation efforts beginning next year, with each grant matched by equal contributions from the coalition partners - part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative.



DOI: From August 15-19, Secretary Salazar will travel to the Northeastern United States to highlight the importance of America's outdoor economy in creating jobs and discuss the economic value of conservation for communities across the country, placing an emphasis on rural areas where protecting vital habitats contributes greatly to strong local economies.  The four-state tour will take Secretary Salazar and key partners in the Senate to Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire to meet with outdoor stakeholders; tour the parks, refuges, and public lands that serve as recreation destinations for tourists and travelers from around the country - helping to create jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry; participate in events that encourage youth to get outside and explore the great outdoors; and visit the retail shops and outfitters that help power this key section of our economy.  The Secretary's trip will focus on discussions with leaders in Northeastern rural communities about creating economic opportunities through conservation and outdoor recreation.




WASHINGTON, August 12, 2011- On Monday August 15th, the President will travel to Iowa on his three-day economic bus tour in the Midwest.  The President will host a town hall event in Decorah, IA at Seed Savers Exchange.  Tuesday, August 16th, he will travel to Peosta, IA for a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College.  The economic bus tour will also feature events in Atkinson and Alpha, Illinois on Wednesday, August 17 before the President returns to Washington.


While in the Midwest, the President will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans, including small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials.  The President knows we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our nation's future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations.


Members of the media who wish to cover the President's town hall in Decorah, Iowa should RSVP HERE by Saturday, August  13, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. CDT.


Members of the media who wish to cover the Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa should RSVP HERE by Saturday, August  13, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. CDT.



Monday, August 15, 2011


Town Hall with President Barack Obama in Decorah, IA


Seed Savers Exchange
3074 North Winn Road
Decorah, IA 52101

Pre-set: 11:30am- 12:30 pm CDT (Media will not have access to their equipment from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.) 

Sweep: 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. CDT

Press Access: 3:00 pm CDT 

Final Press access: 4:00 pm

Program begins: 5:15 pm

Cable run: 300 feet

Throw: 60 ft

Media Parking: Enter at the visitor's center entrance. From there you will be directed on site.

Sat truck parking: directed on site. Trucks will be subject to security screening and will not be accessible between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. during the sweep.

Contact for planning and logistical purposes (media only): Meki Bracken, 202-757-9678


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa

Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta Campus
10250 Sundown Rd. 
Peosta, IA 52068

The event will be held in the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) building.

Media Pre-set: 6:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. CDT (ALL Equipment must be dropped at the site by 7:00 a.m.; media will not have access to the site from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. CDT). 

Media Access: 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. CDT (All media must arrive by 11:00 a.m. Media who arrive late will NOT have access to cover the event.) 

Throw: 40 ft.  
Cable Run: 1000 ft. 

Live Truck Parking: Live trucks will park in the West Parking Lot outside of the NECAS building off Sundown Rd, and must be on site and cabled in by 7:00 a.m. CDT. Media should plan to bring cable ramps. Trucks will be subject to security screening and will not be accessible between 7:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. during the sweep.  

**Media Check In: Parking will be directed on site.  

Media Entrance: During pre-set, media will be able to drive up next to the site to drop heavy equipment.  After pre-set, all media must park in the South Parking Lot off Sundown Road.

Contact for planning and logistical purposes (media only): Stephanie Temaat at stemaat@who.eop.gov or 785-766-4483.



Twelve Returning Directors, Seven New Directors Will Be Sworn In at Annual Meeting

ST. LOUIS (August 12, 2011) - Nineteen farmer-leaders will be sworn in as directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) in December, after receiving appointment recently by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The 19 soybean farmers from across the United States include seven new appointees and 12 returning directors. These volunteers work to invest checkoff funds on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers in the areas of domestic and international marketing, maintaining and increasing U.S. soybean yields, finding new uses for soy, ensuring market access for U.S. soy and other areas affecting the U.S. soy industry.

"It is our board's job to wisely invest checkoff dollars to increase the profit potential of all U.S. soybean farmers," said USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss. "Serving U.S. soybean farmers as part of USB takes a great commitment but is truly an honor as well."

Appointed farmer-leaders include : 

•    Angela M. Dee, Ala.
•    Robert L. Stobaugh, Ark.
•    James L. Stillman, Iowa*
•    Larry K. Marek, Iowa
•    Dwain L. Ford, Ill.*
•    Michael A. Beard, Ind. *
•    Craig M. Gigstad, Kan.
•    Keith N. Tapp, Ky.
•    Eugene L. Lowe III, Md.*
•    R. Alan Moore, Mich.*
•    Scott G. Singlestad, Minn.*
•    J. Willard Spargo, Mo.
•    James D. Sneed, Miss.*
•    Loyd L. Pointer, Neb.*
•    Daniel J. Corcoran, Ohio*
•    Ellie W. Green Jr., S.C.
•    Robert J. Metz, S.D.*
•    John R. Butler, Tenn.*
•    Tom P. Rotello Sr., Texas*
•    James P. Buck, Ala. (alternate director)
•    Scotty J. Herriman, Okla. (alternate director)
•    Fitzhugh L. Bethea III, S.C. (alternate director)

* Indicates returning director.

All appointees, who will serve three-year terms, will be sworn in on Dec. 6 at USB's annual meeting in St. Louis. Qualified State Soybean Boards nominated all of the soybean farmers selected by the agriculture secretary to serve on USB.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at www.UnitedSoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard


Q:        Why is it important for the United States to pursue international trade agreements?      

A:        International trade opens new markets for U.S. products and supports good-paying jobs in the United States.  Likewise, international trade presents goods and services to U.S. employers and consumers that fuel commerce and choice.      

Pursing new export markets should be a major part of America's economic recovery effort.  Jobs in the United States that are linked to international trade pay, on average, 15 percent more than the national average.  While the United States stands by, other countries are enacting trade agreements for market share that easily could belong to U.S. producers.      

Q:        What is being done to expand export opportunities for U.S. goods and services?      

A:        Most recently, I've pushed for the enactment of new trade agreements, like the long-pending agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, to present new opportunities for U.S. farmers, manufacturers, and the services industry, including energy, financial and insurance firms.      

At this point, Congress is waiting for a chance to vote for free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  These agreements have been ready for consideration since 2007, when the Bush administration resolved issues of concern with congressional Democrats in 2007.  Even so, in 2007 and 2008, Democratic leaders did not bring up the agreements for a vote.  And, in 2009, the Obama administration raised new issues that further delayed action on the agreements.  This year, it's all but settled that Congress will, at long last, have an opportunity to vote on these agreements without tying them to other issues.      

Q:        What are the stakes for workers when trade initiatives are sidelined?         

A:        Manufacturers, financial services providers and farmers in Iowa and all over the country are always looking for new markets to increase their operations, whether those customers are in the United States or halfway around the world.      

Right now, U.S.-Colombia trade is a one-way street.  More than 99 percent of Colombian agricultural exports enter the U.S. market duty-free.   No U.S. agricultural products have duty-free access to the Colombian market. In the United States, Iowa produces more corn, soybeans, hogs and eggs than any other state.  Tariffs on some U.S. soybean exports to Colombia can be as high as 150 percent. Tariffs can be as high as 195 percent on some corn products.  Under the trade agreement, these tariffs would go to zero.      

U.S. producers estimate that the Korea trade agreement, once fully implemented, could increase U.S. agricultural exports to Korea by $1.9 billion. Korea is expected to absorb five percent of total U.S. pork production.  Panama currently has a 30 percent tariff on U.S. beef and tariffs of up to 40 percent on imports of U.S. corn.  Both of these tariffs would go to zero under the trade agreement.      

Separately, the U.S. insurance and financial services industry, including companies in Iowa, says Korea represents the largest insurance market yet included in a U.S. free trade agreement and presents enormous opportunities for domestic job growth.      

Behind all of these numbers are workers in Iowa and across the country who are equipped to feed and serve even more of the world than they already do if given the chance.     

Friday, August 12, 2011

WHERE: Quad City Arts Center Gallery,   Rock Island    


EXHIBITION DATES: September 9- October 14, 2011

RECEPTION: Friday, September 9th, 7-9 pm


From September 2nd through October 9th, 2011 Quad City Arts presents "You Are Here" pastel paintings by Rock Island artist Audrey Brownand photography by Randy Richmond of MuscatineIA. The public is cordially invited to attend the opening reception on September 9th from 7-9 pm at Quad City Arts' Rock Island Gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.

You Are Here depicts the rural landscape as seen by contrasting perspectives.  One is more literal, yet thickly layered in color and atmosphere.  The other is more literary and layered in ambiguity and atmospheric histories.  Both communicate an appreciation of the mid-western landscape and the stories that sometimes go unnoticed and untold.

Pastel artist Audrey Brown creates timeless pastoral scenes that take the viewer on a daydream-like journey to the countryside where one can begin to relax simply by gazing at her paintings.

Photographer Randy Richmond will provide a three-dimensional aspect to the exhibit with photo based assemblages created around brass mounted, unique photographs. The small photographs' historical feel are supported by the antique boxes that are used to "frame" them. These will be in addition to his landscape photographs.

Join us for the opening reception on September 9th from 7-9 pm, in the gallery. Refreshments will be served and artists will be on hand to answer questions about their work.

The Quad City Arts Center Gallery is located at 1715 Second Avenue in the Arts and Entertainment District of Rock Island.  Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. All Quad City Arts programs are funded in part by Festival of Trees; Quad City Arts Partners; and operating grants from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Quad City Arts is a nonprofit local arts agency dedicated to the growth and vitality of the Quad City region through the presentation, development and celebration of the arts and humanities. For more information, contact Dawn Wohlford-Metallo 309-793-1213 X108.

Davenport, Iowa - August 2011 -The Figge Art museum will host River ARTS Live, a free walk-in art project at River Roots Live on Saturday, August 20 from noon to 6pm.  Event attendees are invited to stop by the Figge's art tent in the Junior Jam area to create sculptures out of plastic materials recovered from the Mississippi River during Living Lands and Waters' XStream Cleanup. This art activity is inspired by the work of artist Aurora Robson, whose intricate and colorful sculpture Up Drop is currently on display in the Figge lobby. Robson up-cycles everyday waste to create intricate and brilliantly colored hanging sculptures. The Figge's fall exhibition, Everything, All at Once, Forever, will feature additional original plastic debris sculptures by Robson.

The outreach program is sponsored by Iowa American Water, and is offered in partnership with Living Lands and Waters and the QC Chamber.

The Figge Art Museum is located on the riverfront in Downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street. Hours are from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, Sundays noon to 5pm and Thursdays 10 am to 9pm.  To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.

River Roots Live is a free event in Le Claire Park in Downtown Davenport and is presented by the Downtown Partnership, a division of Quad City Chamber.  



"We've Got a Good Thing Growing" Fair Showcases Food, Entertainment, Illinois Produce and Livestock  

SPRINGFIELD - August 12, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today officially opened the 2011 Illinois State Fair, "We've Got a Good Thing Growing." Today's ribbon cutting at the fairground's main gate marks the start of the 10-day celebration that features food, racing, music, carnival rides and a wide variety of family-friendly activities.      

"The state fair is an Illinois staple, with something for everyone, whether you are young or just young at heart. Visitors to the fair can take enjoy family-friendly entertainment, check out the best agricultural products in the world - all while enjoying some of the best food Illinois has to offer," Governor Quinn said. "I hope everyone comes to Springfield to sample the sights and sounds of the fair."      

The state fair began 158 years ago as a way for Illinois farmers to showcase their labor. The fair continues to feature Illinois livestock, as well as produce and other Illinois products at the Farmers Market Tent. Visitors can also enjoy auto racing, horse shows and harness racing, in addition to carnival rides.      

Along with the Grandstand concert lineup, the fair also features a wide variety of free entertainment - from high diving to musical acts - on 15 stages throughout the fairgrounds. Also this year, the Chicago cast of the highly-acclaimed Million Dollar Quartet will give a free performance with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra at the Grandstand. The Broadway musical is based on the recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.      

Fairgoers will also have the opportunity to learn about state government and the state programs that are helping grow the state's economy. Many of the state's agencies and departments, as well as other constitutional officers, will have tents at the fair where people can obtain information about state services and programs.      

Governor Quinn also cut the ribbon on the Governor's Tent at the fair today, officially opening the tent to fairgoers. The tent features displays about Governor Quinn's programs and initiatives that are aimed at creating and supporting good quality jobs throughout Illinois. The Governor's Tent will also feature a large model of the transformer Optimus Prime from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which was filmed in Chicago last year. Children will also be able to dig for artifacts in the "Kids' Kreation Korner" and "Meet the Greens," a model dollhouse that is completely energy efficient. The tent is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily during the fair.      

For a complete listing of daily activities at the 2011 Illinois State Fair, "We've Got a Good Thing Growing," please visit:www.illinoisstatefair.info or call: (217) 782-6661. The state fair funs from Aug. 13 - 21.   


It was 50 years ago that Arnold Palmer and Gary Player opened Davenport's Emeis Golf Course with an epic exhibition match.  That match may seem long ago to those who were lucky enough to see it.  But in those last 50 years, Emeis has developed into the City of Davenport's premier golf course, with a layout to challenge even the most experienced golfer of today.  

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this historic match, you can play Emeis golf course for the same price as the day it opened in 1961.  On Friday, August 19th only, you can play 18 holes at Emeis for $1.50!  That's right, 18 holes at Emeis for the 1961 price of just $1.50. 

Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Call Emeis Golf Course now at 326-7825 to book your tee time.  Times will fill up fast, so call today and mention the $1.50 green fees for Friday, August 19th. 

What :  Emeis Anniversary 
When:  August 19, 2011 
Where: Emeis Golf Course   4500 W Central Park   Davenport IA

WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today urged President Obama to adopt a definition of tax reform that would make U.S. employers more competitive worldwide and encourage job creation in the United States rather than impose scattershot tax increases that do not constitute reform and do not promote economic growth.  

"Tax reform in a global economy is a serious task," Grassley wrote in a letter to the President.  "There are complex issues to be considered.  These include a comparison of the rates and incentives provided by the countries we are competing with for jobs.  A serious task needs serious leadership.  Demagoguery of tax incentives may provide good political sport but it does not provide the strong leadership needed for the serious task of reforming the tax code to secure America's competitiveness in the global economy."  

Grassley noted that the President and others define "tax reform" as closing "tax loopholes" and the President said tax reform should "ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share."  Grassley said tax reform in the sense of creating jobs involves simplification and making U.S. businesses more competitive with their counterparts worldwide.  

Grassley urged the President to "... take responsibility for the tone and tenor of the tax reform debate you are setting."  Grassley wrote, "With unemployment and growth rates where they are, the country cannot afford the kind of 'tax reform' you are promoting."  

Grassley is former chairman and ranking member and currently a senior member of the Finance Committee, which has exclusive Senate jurisdiction over taxes and has been holding hearings on tax reform.  

The text of Grassley's letter to the President is available here.  



The U.S. Senate Youth Program is offering two high school students (juniors or seniors) from each state a trip to Washington D.C. to participate in a week-long, intensive program that includes educational programs, talks with congressional leaders and visits to sights around our nation's Capital. This year's program will be held March 3-10, 2012. In 1962, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution creating the United States Senate Youth Program, and the program is celebrating its 50th year of operation.

Today I invite Iowa's young, bright high school leaders in their junior or senior year to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program.

The Hearst Foundation, which funds the program, brings the highest-level officials from each branch of government to speak with the students. Participants learn about the United States government and each department's duties while having the ability to speak one on one with our nation's leaders. Each year, I look forward to meeting with Iowa's scholarship winners and hearing about their goals and aspirations for the future.

Along with the visit to D.C.; each student is awarded a $5,000 one-time scholarship to the College or University of their choice to pursue history or political science.

Participants are chosen based on their leadership skills and merit. If chosen, students will enjoy an expense-free week with transportation, food, and activities. Interested students should contact their high school principals. Deadline for Iowa applications is October 3, 2011.

Scholarship rules and application forms can be found on the program's website at www.ussenateyouth.org. And of course, if any Iowan has questions on this program, they may visit my web site at http://harkin.senate.gov/ or call any of my Iowa offices.

A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here.