White House Creates Rural Council

The White House established a Rural Council on Thursday, the first of its kind, focused on rural America and its economy. President Obama signed an executive order calling for a group of two dozen administration officials, including cabinet secretaries, to sit on the advisory group.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, is its head.

Vilsack focused his comments mostly on rural communities with strong agriculture or ranching, but Alaska’s villages are included in the sweep of the rural focus.

The Obama Administration has been accused of dismissing rural America – like when Obama the candidate was caught on tape talking about small town Americans clinging to God and guns. But Vilsack disputed the suggestion that Obama is doing this just to get rural voters on his side before the 2012 election. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters Thursday that anyone who says the White House has given rural America short shrift is misguided.

The new Rural Council will come up with recommendations on investing in the economy of rural areas, and will help coordinate between local communities, tribal governments, and businesses. It aims to boost job opportunities and improve the lifestyles of the estimated 60 million rural Americans.

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