WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee (DSOC) Chair Amy Klobuchar, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, and other Senate Democrats held a forum with stakeholder groups on solutions to boost the rural economy. Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the keynote speaker.  

“Our country’s prosperity depends on supporting and strengthening rural communities,” said Klobuchar, Chair of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. “Today’s summit on boosting the rural economy allowed us to discuss innovative solutions to invest in rural infrastructure, create new jobs in energy and agriculture, foster the next generation of farmers and ranchers, and champion policies to help rural Americans thrive in the 21st century. I thank my colleagues, including Ranking Member Stabenow, for taking part in our discussion today, and Secretary Vilsack for his leadership on issues important to rural communities.”

“Supporting our rural families and communities is a top priority,” Ranking Member Stabenow said. “The Farm Bill made so many important investments in programs ranging from support for new and beginning farmers to investing in our bio-based economy to ensuring communities have access to broadband and telemedicine. As we look to the next Farm Bill, it’s important that we have conversations like this to ensure we are doing everything we can – from providing additional support through USDA to ensuring children have nutritious meals year-round to addressing mental health needs – to support Americans from all walks of life.”

The Obama Administration and our partners in Congress have made historic investments in rural America, bringing new manufacturing, innovation and energy to these communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Targeted investments are creating new markets by supporting production agriculture, investing in a new bio-based economy, developing local and regional food systems, and establishing new partnerships to strengthen conservation and protect our natural resources. These efforts are helping to expand opportunities for businesses, workers, and families in rural areas, and strengthening local economies and communities.”

At today’s summit, senators and stakeholders discussed the need to invest in basic infrastructure, including building roads, schools, and hospitals and ensuring access to critical services like water, wastewater, and broadband internet. They also discussed the importance of fostering innovations that create new jobs in the energy and agricultural economy, and building a middle-class economy that attracts the next generation of younger families, workers, entrepreneurs and small business owners, and beginner farmers and ranchers.