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MRCC Lends Voice at
the White House Job Summit

by Kathy Ozer
Washington, D.C.

At the forum on jobs and economic growth convened by President Obama on Thursday December 3rd, Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Ben Burkett, President of the National Family Farm Coalition, were two of 130 guests at the forum.

Rhonda Perry had the opportunity to ask President Obama a question and raise the profile of family farmer and rural issues when she stated, "Around this country, in rural communities, independent family farmers are the biggest bang for our buck in terms of creating jobs, with independent businesses that depend on farmers, from the people we buy our seed from, to the people we use to process our meat, to the transportation system to haul our grain."

"We create many jobs in rural Missouri and rural America, so we want to make sure that's not overlooked. And one of the things that you and the first lady have highlighted is this incredible move that's underfoot in which thousands of farmers are producing food for local markets. So we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place, from the meat processing to the transportation and storage, to make that a reality. In the past, we have tended to put significant amounts of money into the hands of corporate agribusiness out here in our rural communities, however they have not proven to be the bang for the buck that independent family farmers have in terms creating just, fair and good paying jobs in our communities. So thank you for the steps you are taking to increase competition and local food."

Ben Burkett stated, "I was the only person representing agriculture in the breakout session on entrepreneurial business. On the issue of credit, we discussed banks not lending to small businesses and farmers despite the millions of dollars in stimulus funds dispersed, something noted by everyone in the room. I presented Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner a report on credit issues and how credit unions can support rural economies, by Jerry Pennick of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Secretary Geithner promised to follow up."

NFFC Executive Director, Kathy Ozer stated, "The National Family Farm Coalition and Rural Coalition appreciate being represented at this important forum. We urge the Obama Administration to address the real needs and the opportunities in rural America to retain family farms, revitalize rural communities and strengthen our nation’s economy."

Published in In Motion Magazine December 9, 2009.

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