President Barack Obama on Friday traveled to Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., to sign the 2014 Farm Bill and introduce a new initiative that aims to bolster exports from rural America.
The effort was first revealed by the White House Friday morning and will be overseen by the White House Rural Council. Called "Made In Rural America," the plan would use federal resources to help rural businesses access export and investment opportunities.
"I'm directing my administration to launch a new "Made in Rural America" initiative to help more rural businesses expand and hire and sell more products stamped "Made in the USA" to the rest of the world -- because we've got great products here that need to be sold and we can do even more to sell around the world," the President said during remarks prior to the signing of the farm bill.
According to the White House, the Rural Council will work in cooperation with the USDA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, Export-Import Bank, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to achieve the program's goals.
Over the next nine months, the White House expects the agencies to commit to connecting more rural businesses of all types to export information and assistance through a comprehensive strategy including the following specific commitments:
• Host five "Made in Rural America" regional forums to provide business owners with information about federal resources;
•Convene an "Investing in Rural America" conference to connect rural business owners with governmental officials;
•Host training sessions for Rural Development staff in all 50 states;
• 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 across the country on the importance of rural exports; and
• Use the BusinessUSA online platform to connect rural businesses with export and investment resources and coordinate support from across the federal government.
Coinciding with the Made In Rural America announcement, the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Friday released a highlights of the agriculture sector report, touting $131 billion in final net farm income for 2013.
The report also noted that American agriculture has set a new record for exports in the calendar year 2013, meeting a level of $144.1 billion.
Over the past 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," the President noted at MSU. "And when I'm traveling around the world, I'm promoting American agriculture."