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White House Forms Council to Focus on Rural America

June 14. 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - President Obama has established by executive order a White House Rural Council to examine issues beyond America's big cities. It will look for ways to maximize the impact of federal investments, to promote both economic prosperity and quality of life for rural residents.

The president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, Doug Peterson, says the council's first step will be to identify the problems that small communities face.

"And then, look at the deliverance and impact of how those programs, or 'helps' or opportunities, how they get out there, so people can actually grab hold of them. You've got to bring the tools to the table before people can actually go to work."

And Peterson says a level playing field is needed when it comes to things like technology and education, because people have a right to be rural.

"You have a right to educate your children in your home community. You have a right to stay in your home community. You shouldn't have to travel away for education or a job or health care."

Peterson says he hopes the Council will seek input from those who live and work in rural Minnesota and other states, because effective policies can't be made a thousand miles away from where the impact is.

"And you cannot appreciate what people go through on a day-to-day basis when that law gets implemented and, all of a sudden, they say, 'Uh-oh, we didn't think about that.'"

The new White House Rural Council will include two dozen cabinet leaders, from Labor to Commerce to Transportation. Sixteen percent of Americans live in rural counties.

The Executive Order is online at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN