U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is hosting the 10th rural conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this week in Memphis, Tennessee. The Conference will focus on international strategies to address rural development in the 21st century, including job creation, rural service delivery, urban-rural linkages and diversified rural economic investments. The theme of the conference is National Prosperity Through Modern Rural Policy: Competitiveness and Well Being in Rural Regions. The conference is supported by the United States, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mexico’s Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development.
Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul was selected to speak on one of the panels. Her topic will be “Local Foods, Native American Communities and Food Deserts.” George Paul Vinegars in Cody, Nebraska will be featured for the Rural Development Value Added Producer Grant it received for a feasibility study for an independent vinegary.
Discussion will be held on the Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) for a feasibility study for the construction of a grocery store made out of straw bales in Cody. Also highlighted will be RBEGs to the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) that provided training and technical assistance to assist the Omaha, and Santee Sioux Tribes. Results were organic community gardens, Farm to School, and farmers markets.
Nebraska Rural Development was also chosen to provide a booth displaying local Nebraska foods, and jewelry. The Center for Rural Affairs collaborated by providing foods processed by Santee Sioux and Omaha tribal members.
Secretary Vilsack is joined by OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi, ministers from many of the 34 OECD countries, and over 300 leading international policymakers and rural stakeholders. As part of the Conference proceedings, Secretary Vilsack will deliver a keynote speech at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., and participate in panel discussions about successful and emerging strategies to invest in rural communities for the 21 century.
Since 2009, the Obama Administration with Secretary Vilsack’s leadership has invested in affordable housing, energy efficiency, roads and bridges, internet access, and provided financial support to rural businesses, helping to attract and retain a talented rural labor force, improve connectivity and access to information, move products to market, and make rural communities competitive.