(Jamie) Thanks for staying with us! Now Kyle and Ryan talk about how the Rural Development program has helped create infrastructure in rural areas for more than 80 years.
(Kyle) Hi this is Kyle Bauer from Kansas City, visiting with Ryan McMullen. He’s a State Director for USDA’s Rural Development Agency. Is that the right name for things? (Ryan) Actually it’s the USDA Rural Development Missionaria, which is comprised of three separate federal agencies, the Rural Business Service, Rural Utility Service and the Rural Housing Service. And we’ve had a lot of different labels over the years and so folks are not always familiar with what USDA Rural Development is today. But what we’ve been doing is something we’ve been doing for 80 years, starting with the Rural Electrification Administration, back in 1935, which basically started the premise that frankly it sometimes take a little bit of an extra helping hand up for rural communities to maintain the same infrastructure and quality of life that our urban neighbors do. So, all the way back 80 years ago, basically the government said, If you’ll come together as a cooperative to form these rural electric cooperatives, we’ll provide some government guarantees, some loan dollars to help you all organize your own electric cooperatives. And over the last 80 years, that same principle, of being that helping hand up, that little bit of extra for rural communities is something that we’ve continued. And it’s expanded from again, establishing those first electric cooperatives, to home loans, to helping establish rural water districts, to telephone cooperatives, to today being the driving force behind the expansion of high speed internet in rural America. (Kyle) So, why has the government cared for all those 80 years about developing infrastructure in the rural parts of the United States? (Ryan) Because rural America is the source of America’s food and energy and water. And to be able to maintain that infrastructure of being able to develop those natural resources that we have across the United States of America, ensure of rural communities and folks that live in rural America and are out there on the farm and our small businesses that help support those agricultural industries, to be able to maintain an infrastructure that can allow the United States to benefit from those vast resources that we have in the United States. (Kyle) And truly over the years whether it’s been the United States or other countries around the world, there has been an exodus from rural areas to urban areas because of those, we’ll say creature comforts or the things that we all have come to take for granted. (Ryan) Absolutely. And so in USDA Rural Development we certainly are cognizant of the fact that we see population declines in our rural community, particularly for the Great Plains states, the places you and I call home. And so we’re constantly working with rural communities to at least, stem that out migration and look at some of the things that are attractive to urban communities for a younger generation and be able to establish some of those creature comforts, some of those aspects of community that they find in urban areas, that in some instances can be replicated in rural communities. (Kyle) This is Kyle Bauer, with Ryan McMullen. He’s the Oklahoma State Director for Rural Development USDA. This is Kyle Bauer reporting. Back to you Jamie.
(Jamie) Don’t go away – after the break Kyle introduces us to Leonard Jordan, Associate Chief for Conservation with the NRCS.