Wednesday, October 05, 2011

White House Rural Council's report lists problems, but leaves out ways to solve them

The results of the White House Rural Council's visits to rural America this summer are in, so to speak. The Daily Yonder has sifted through the council's recently released report about these visits, and didn't have to use a fine-toothed comb to notice what the report lacked. (White House map shows visit locations)

Since President Obama created the council in June, members have traveled the country visiting rural communities and conducting a series of "roundtable discussions." As its co-chair, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, wrote at the start of the report: "Through these visits, the Council has been listening to the voice of rural Americans – to their concerns and aspirations, to what they see as the challenges that lay ahead and the opportunities open to them."

The report is based on those discussions and the President's rural tour to Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota in August. The Yonder could not find in the report a single conclusion drawn from some 200 visits made in 46 states (Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island did not receive a visit). The report does, however, include a pie chart illustrating top issues discussed during the roundtables: Education leads the list, followed closely by government programs and regulations. The report is also littered with lists: issues discussed, departmental references and every place visited, highlighting the President's visit to Peosta, Iowa. But as the Yonder points out, there is no list of policy changes or initiatives to remedy the problems facing rural Americans. (Read more)

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