Monday, August 22, 2011

Bringing the Job Creation Conversation to All Corners of America

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and President Barack Obama get it.

They GET it. To get jobs moving again, we need to invest in jobs at the bottom level and diversify, diversify, diversify. And something else interesting is happening here...we seem to have some evidence of our representatives bringing actual tangible discussions on the nuts and bolts of HOW to create jobs and stimulate the economy to every corner of our nation and states...

The conversation: Sure, let's make jobs. But HOW?

My bet: they aren't screaming for more tax cuts and a balanced DC budget. The more folks we can bring into this conversation the better...because the more people who see that tax cuts alone won't get this economy moving again, the more we'll start to have a serious national debate on jobs programs.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is in Sparta Michigan today with Obama's Agriculture Secretary (And my former Iowa Governor) Tom Vilsack to hold a round table discussion on how State, Federal, and local efforts can work together to create jobs and create more economic opportunities for rural regions.

Lots of folks tend to think of Michigan as an industrial state...but our second largest industry is agriculture which contributes about 71 billion dollars annually to Michigan's economy. And with over 200 crops, Michigan ranks among the most diverse agricultural economies in America.

Last year, Michigan farm exports grew 10 percent over 2009 figures, delivering $1.75 billion in sales and supporting almost 15,000 jobs in the state.


To encourage Michigan's local and regional food movement, USDA is supporting smaller and mid-sized farmers in Michigan, who may not have the ability to compete in international markets. USDA is providing specialty crop growers – who account for nearly $2 billion in annual agricultural sales for Michigan – with research and assistance aimed at combating pests and diseases that may threaten the productivity of farmers. Last year, USDA provided the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development with funding for 25 projects that support specialty crops efforts like conducting radio advertising to increase sales of fresh Michigan asparagus and promoting locally grown Michigan apples in the greater Chicago market to raise awareness and grow market share. In July, USDA announced that it will conduct a pilot program for acquiring fresh fruits and vegetables to increase farm-to-school programs in Michigan. The pilot will use commercial distribution models already in place and allow schools to obtain locally grown produce.

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