WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama announced yesterday that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead the Obama Administration's Rural Tour. Over the next several months, Secretary Vilsack will be joined by top administration officials, including several Cabinet Secretaries, at discussions throughout the country about how the USDA and other federal agencies are working to strengthen rural America.



Vilsack will join Vice President Joe Biden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke at the launch of the Rural Tour in Wattsburg, Pa., where they will discuss the issue of rural broadband. Vilsack is scheduled to attend all planned Rural Tour events.



"Strengthening rural communities is one of USDA's top priorities, and the Rural Tour will enable us to learn from people throughout America about how USDA and the Obama Administration are having an impact on the lives of rural Americans," said Vilsack. "I look forward to hearing the thoughts, concerns and stories about each community's vision for its future and collecting ideas about how USDA can better serve these communities."



During the Rural Tour, Secretary Vilsack will have the opportunity to discuss USDA's efforts expand economic opportunities in rural communities, update critical infrastructure like health clinics, schools, police stations and wastewater systems, and improve the quality-of-life for the Americans who live, work and raise a family in rural communities.



The participation of other top administration officials in the Rural Tour, and the variety of topics that will be addressed reflects the array of issues facing rural America, including broad-based rural health, economic development, infrastructure, education, energy, natural resources, and agriculture. Events will be held in Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.



Planned Rural Tour Events include:



JULY 1ST



Vice President Joe Biden and Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Gary Locke will travel to Wattsburg, PA, to discuss rural broadband.



JULY 16TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack, Gary Locke and Ray LaHood will travel to La Crosse, WI, to discuss rural economic development.



JULY 18TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Steven Chu will travel to Ringgold, VA, to discuss green jobs and a new energy economy, with a focus on weatherization and carbon sequestration.



JULY 20TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack, Eric Shinseki, Hilda Solis and Kathleen Sebelius will travel to St. John's Parish, LA, to discuss rural health.



AUGUST 12TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack Steven Chu, Shaun Donovan, Arne Duncan, and Ken Salazar will travel to Bethel, AK, to discuss rural infrastructure, green jobs and a new energy economy, as well as climate change.



AUGUST 16TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Ken Salazar will travel to Zanesville, OH, to discuss green jobs and a new energy economy, with a focus on renewable energies.



AUGUST 17TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Arne Duncan will travel to Hamlet, NC, to discuss rural education.



SEPTEMBER 28TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Ken Salazar will travel to Scottsbluff, NE, to discuss production agriculture.



SEPTEMBER 30TH



Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Shaun Donovan will travel to Las Cruces, NM, to discuss rural infrastructure.



More details on the Rural Tour will be released as they become available.



SOURCE: USDA.