U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a roundtable meeting today with local business and agricultural leaders at the Des Moines Area Community College to discuss the vision laid out in President Obama's State of the Union address that will help grow the Iowa economy. The meeting provided Secretary Vilsack with an opportunity to hear directly from Iowans on how to make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so that we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow.
"President Obama believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and has laid out a blueprint for an economy that is built to last--an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values," said Vilsack. "Today I had the opportunity to hear directly from Iowans on how we work together to build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. Together we will keep our nation moving forward and rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."
Last Friday's employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 257,000 in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent. After losing more than 8 million jobs in the recession, the economy has added private sector jobs for 23 straight months, for a total of 3.7 million jobs over that period. Manufacturing jobs are coming back and the auto industry has rebounded. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. To ensure we build an economy to last over the long term, we must continue this progress. In his State of the Union Address, the President announced proposals and outlined his vision for:
* How we will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA;
* A new era for American energy--an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers;
* How we will make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so that we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow; and
* Return to American Values - of fairness for all, and responsibility from all.
USDA is working to support the President's efforts to promote a new era of American manufacturing by supporting rural businesses, farmers and ranchers to export products made or grown in America. USDA is also supporting the President's vision for a new era for American made renewable energy by working with scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs to help develop a nationwide biofuels economy that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the countryside.
In Iowa, USDA has provided 62 grants and loans to assist rural small and mid-sized businesses create or save 5,300 jobs over the past three years. USDA has also improved and modernized rural electric infrastructure for over 91,000 rural residents and businesses in Iowa with more than 2,636 miles of new and upgraded electric lines. Across the country, USDA has helped more than 7,435 rural families in all 99 counties buy or refinance a home. The department has provided grants and loans for water and waste water community infrastructure projects to help safeguard the health of 257,000 rural residents and create or save 1,900 jobs.