In recent testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the importance of improving the future prospects of those who use farm equipment in making a living.
Vilsack said that new strategies need to be developed in the next farm bill. Those should include provisions that help encourage job opportunities for young people in rural parts of the country. He added that solutions to problems of depopulation in rural areas and infrastructure inadequacies are going to need "creative approaches."
Some of these approaches are included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Regional Innovation Initiative, Vilsack said. The RII includes five areas of concentration: Broadband; renewable energy and biofuels; regional food systems and supply chains; ecosystem market incentives; and forest restoration and private land conservation.
"USDA will work with federal and private partners to develop metrics to measure and demonstrate the success of the approach," Vilsack said.
Trying to improve the economy of rural America was a focus on a tour started last year by the Obama administration. Through the rural tour, officials from the federal government visited a number of rural communities to hear their suggestions and concerns.