Thursday, January 21, 2010

USDA likely to announce regional-alliance program

A program favoring increased emphasis on regional alliances in rural America is likely to be announced soon, says the under secretary of rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dallas Tonsager hinted at the announcement while speaking to chairs of agriculture committees from 47 state legislatures meeting at the Legislative Agricultural Chairs Summit last weekend, Bill Bishop of The Daily Yonder reports.

"We’ll becoming out soon with a proposal on regionalism," Tonsager told the legislators. "I would urge you to look at what Iowa did when [USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack] did when he was governor [of Iowa]." While in Iowa, "Vilsack went so far as to propose reducing the number of counties from 99 to about 15, following the lines of community college districts," Bishop writes.

Advocates of rural regionalism say "counties working together will be more successful in their development efforts than if they plunge ahead without cooperating," Bishop reports. The summit also included sessions about dealing with animal rights advocates, creating rural caucuses in state legislatures, cap-and-trade legislation and the widening rural-urban division. (Read more)

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