Public Papers

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Rural Development Programs


Today the President ordered the implementation of a report from the White House Economic Policy Council's Working Group on Rural Development, formed in April 1989 to analyze and evaluate existing Federal rural development programs and develop policy options for improving their coordination and execution.

The President has instructed Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter to implement six proposals designed to improve the coordination of rural development programs and serve as a catalyst for future initiatives. They are:

President's Council on Rural America. A Presidential Council will be formed with membership drawn from farmers, State and local governments, rural businesses, and high-technology industries to advise the Federal Government on improving Federal rural development policy.

State Rural Development Councils. Each State will establish a rural development council to coordinate Federal rural development programs in its region. Council members will include representation from the Office of the Governor and the State representatives of all Federal departments administering rural development programs locally. The council will identify and assess local rural development needs and coordinate the delivery of Federal and State rural development programs to meet those needs.

Rural Development Demonstration Programs. Under existing budgetary resources and programs, a series of rural development demonstration programs will be organized to identify regional rural development needs, develop plans of action to meet those needs, bring together the necessary resources, and evaluate the process and its results for possible application on a broader basis.

Rural Development Technical Assistance Center and Hotline. The Department of Agriculture will establish a center to provide technical assistance and detailed information on Federal programs that serve rural communities. The Center will also link callers with Federal, State, and regional program officials who can provide additional assistance.

Target Federal Rural Development Programs. Given limited Federal budget resources, the Federal Government will attempt to target rural development programs on those activities that generate the maximum net economic benefits. While most Federal rural development programs allocate funds by formula, programs with discretionary accounts will allocate funds to those activities where the payoff is greatest.

Economic Policy Council's Working Group on Rural Development. This working group will become a standing committee of the President's Economic Policy Council and will implement any rural development initiatives developed by the President's Council on Rural America and approved by the administration.

Secretary Yeutter will hold a press availability at the Department of Agriculture today at 10:30 a.m. to discuss these initiatives.