White House Rural Council - Role and Impact?

By Steph Larsen

Recently, President Obama issued an executive order creating the White House Rural Council. According to the official press release, the council "will coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide."

Over at Daily Younder, there's some healthy skepticism. What will the council do, especially since they're not hiring new staff? How do they plan to better coordinate government programs? All fair queestions. They write:

During the phone press conference, Vilsack and Salazar talked almost entirely about what the administration had already done. The two cabinet officers promoted money spent to extend Internet broadband and funding that has been put into dams, tribal communities, renewable energy, housing, etc.

Vilsack did mention that cabinet officials would go out across the nation to “listen.” The administration has had several of these "listening tours" in rural America - one about rules governing livestock markets and one by officials with the Appalachian Regional Commission.

One reporter asked if this council was the first sign of the Obama re-election campaign in rural communities. Vilsack and Salazar said that it was not.

We at the Center for Rural Affairs are excited about the prospect of the White House focusing some attention on rural communities. We hope they involve rural communities in a meaningful way, and in addition to listening, we hope they take action on the issues and ideas that they hear from rural residents. 

As we learn more about the details of the listening tour, you can be sure we'll let you know!

What do you think the Rural Council should do?