In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out the importance of manufacturing as we seek to make America a magnet for jobs. He believes there’s much we can achieve to create new manufacturing jobs, including in rural America.
For example, we can achieve a common-sense reform of the tax code. The President proposed lowering tax rates for manufacturers by 25 percent, while ending unfair tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
We can achieve strong markets and a level playing field for American-made products. USDA has already helped the President achieve record exports of agricultural products – with more than $478 billion in agricultural exports from 2009-2012. We will be there to help expand trade with Europe, Asia and other areas throughout the world. These efforts will open doors not just for agriculture, but for quality manufactured products made here at home.
We can achieve better collaboration to help increase America’s manufacturing capacity. For one example, the President proposed the creation of Regional Manufacturing Innovation Institutes across the country. These institutes would build up partnerships among businesses, higher education organizations and the government to develop and build manufacturing technologies. Ultimately, this would help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs on a regional basis.
The President’s proposals would build on USDA’s work to invest in American companies that create jobs. One important part of our effort has been through rural development investments to strengthen the biobased economy.
For example, in North Carolina, a rural development award helped a large greenhouse construct a groundbreaking wood boiler to produce heat. In Louisiana, a business loan guarantee helped begin construction of a new plant to manufacture biobased chemicals. And in Nevada and seven other states, USDA has helped create advanced biofuel refineries. These are the first steps toward building a strong biobased economy that promises millions of new jobs across rural America.
Unfortunately, USDA remains subject to significant uncertainty today. The impact of sequestration, the lack of a budget, and the lack of a comprehensive, multiyear Farm Bill all lend uncertainty to our operations. This harms USDA’s ability to invest in rural development and many other efforts, all of which help spur job creation and economic development in rural America.
I share the President’s hope that Congress will take action to provide rural America with greater certainty, while helping USDA continue our work to strengthen manufacturing across the nation.