Best Days Lie Ahead for the Rural Economy

Published 2:20 pm Thursday, March 10, 2022

Op-ed by Nivory Gordon, Alabama State Director, USDA Rural Development

Growing up on my family’s farm in Wilcox County, Alabama, I was a first-hand witness to many of the challenges that are faced by families who live in rural communities across the state. We didn’t have public water access in the eastern portion of the county. My family utilized individual wells for our water supply. Members of my family faced long journeys to receive essential healthcare services. I saw the struggle that farmers and ranchers go through to feed Alabama. 

Last week, President Biden used his first State of the Union address to talk about where our country has been and where we are going.

The President mentioned a lot we can be proud of and even more to look forward to, especially in rural America.

The country has faced deep challenges over the past year, and the people of rural America know this better than anyone. 

But rural communities are resilient, and as the success of rural America goes, so goes the rest of the country.

That’s why the progress we have made in rural Alabama over the past year is a good sign for everyone. By investing in water infrastructure and broadband, rural business opportunities and the American food supply chain, USDA is helping communities build a foundation for sustained economic growth.

Through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, we’re answering the President’s call to create more resilient, diverse and secure supply chains. Promoting competition in the processing sector will lead to fairer prices for farmers, greater value for workers, and more affordable and healthier food produced closer to home for families.

These investments create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. They help grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out like the President talked about. And they contribute to a circular economy where the resources and wealth we build in rural Alabama stay right here in Alabama.

And they’re just the beginning. In the State of the Union, President Biden committed to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, begin to replace poisonous lead pipes—so every child—and every American—has clean water to drink at home and at school, provide affordable high-speed internet for every American—urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s plan for the economy is already producing historic wins, and there’s room for everyone to participate, no matter their zip code.

That’s why we’re optimistic that our best days lie ahead.

By giving everyone a fair shot and providing equitable access to federal resources, we can do our part to carry out the President’s economic vision. That means making more things here at home, strengthening our supply chains and lowering costs for working families. It means giving people opportunities to make a good living without having to leave the communities they know and love.

For a lot of us, that means staying right here in rural Alabama.