"Our mission is basic--to increase the economic opportunities for rural America."
Undersecretary of Rural Development Tom Dorr made the comments at the 2005 Farm Progress Show. Dorr shared his vision for rural America with visitors at the show and spoke with company representatives.
Since starting his work at USDA's Rural Development department he sees two significant opportunities for rural America: renewable energy and place.
Tom Dorr hopes to help invest in people in his position as undersecretary for rural development.
The Farm Progress Show is a perfect example of how place was able to add value to rural Decatur, Ill., he explains. The Farm Progress Show landed in Decatur because of the community teamwork to draw the 3-day show to the area as a semi-permanent site over the next 20 years.
Richland Community College and Archer Daniels Midland are within view of the FPS grounds. The University of Illinois is just up the road an hour. All, along with local, state and federal government officials and other organizations, pulled together their resources to draw Progress City to Decatur.
Dorr, uses the same approach when working with communities all over the country to capitalize on the great ideas that start locally. "We in Washington don't have the answers for anything," he states. Instead the 5,550 employees spread out over 800 offices nationwide understand what's going on. USDA Rural Development provides the loans needed to get projects off the ground.
Back in Dorr's corn grower association days, Dorr championed the benefits of ethanol and renewable fuels. Martin Andreas, senior advisor to ADM's CEO, caught up with Dorr on the show grounds. Andreas and Dorr worked together on ethanol development 20 years ago and are starting to see the fruits of it now.
Martin Andreas, senior advisor to ADM's CEO, handed Dorr a brochure outlining the benefits of the energy bill, particularly a $6 billion investment spark for renewable fuels and create 250,000 new jobs. Dorr says these opportunities are going to benefit farmers, especially since farmers have played such an important role in getting renewable fuels to where it is today.