President Establishes White House Rural Council

On June 9th, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing a White House Rural Council, with the goal of “better coordinating Federal programs and maximizing the impact of Federal investment to promote economic prosperity and quality of life in our rural communities”. The order particularly cited the promotion of innovation, improved access to capital, health care and education, and expanded outdoor recreational activities on public lands as areas in which the Council would be active.  Other key areas cited are jobs, agriculture, networks, broadband and infrastructure

The Council will be headed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak, and include heads from 25 other executive branch departments, offices and agencies, including the Departments of the Interior, Education, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Energy. It will be funded by the USDA. 

The order cites four functions of the Council:

  • To make recommendations to the President on streamlining and leveraging Federal investments in rural areas to make them more effective.
  • To better coordinate Federal engagement with rural stakeholders on what the needs of rural America are.
  • To better coordinate Federal efforts towards economic growth and development in regions that contain both urban and rural areas, and
  • To promote economic opportunities connected with conservation, such as outdoor recreation and energy development.

The executive order can be viewed in its entirety here

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