U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed efforts to improve rural Colorado’s economy at the Senate Agriculture Committee’s first hearing this year.
Bennet, who requested a seat on the Agriculture Committee because of the tremendous importance of agriculture and rural communities to Colorado, asked Vilsack for his view on steps the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can take to help boost Colorado’s rural economy. Vilsack addressed the declining population in rural communities and highlighted the need to expand access to broadband in rural communities, take advantage of the new energy economy, develop local supply chains, maximize conservation resources, create verifiable and credible ecosystem markets, and expand access to credit and attract venture capital in rural areas.
Vilsack said, “I think the things that we can…are to continue to expand access to broadband, so that farmers and ranchers have access to real time information and make real time decisions; small businesses can expand their markets from local and regional markets to global markets; schools can do a better job of offering a multitude of course selections that they might not otherwise be able to afford to provide; and health care centers can link with specialists that would be impossible for them to afford on a day-to-day basis.”