Vilsack says U.S. doesn’t appreciate its rural areas, which could draw more value-added manufacturing

Americans don’t appreciate rural America, and small towns could attract many more manufacturing jobs, former agriculture secretary and Iowa governor Tom Vilsack said at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 19.

Vilsack (pictured speaking), a Democrat, is president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. He said the U.S. can create more jobs by putting processing and manufacturing facilities near where natural resources are harvested or extracted, instead of shipping raw materials elsewhere. The rhetoric could resonate with Iowa cattle ranchers reeling from the loss of a promised meat processing plant, after the U.S. withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Angela Ufheil reports for The Des Moines Register, which sponsored Vilsack’s appearance as part of its Political Soapbox at the fair.

“Another challenge facing Iowa, Vilsack said, is the lack of appreciation for rural America. He noted almost all food produced in the U.S. comes from rural areas. Yet those living in cities and benefiting from inexpensive food are so far removed from its production that they don’t understand the challenges farmers face,” Ufheil reports. He suggested that state and federal regulators use incentives that would lighten the financial burden on farmers, saying that they can’t easily absorb increased costs due to regulation.

The Political Soapbox is an extension of the paper’s Changing Iowa series, which explores the “demographic, cultural and economic changes taking place across the state, including the pressure being put on mid-sized farmshow automation is reshaping Iowa’s workforce, and how Iowa’s smaller cities have been left behind,” Ufheil reports.

Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog.  Published on June 21, 2017. Article written by Heather Chapman.  Al Cross,  former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog. Photo credit: Des Moines Register by Angela Ufheil

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