Washington, DC - The White House Rural Council (WHRC), announced a workshop series to provide targeted assistance for rural small businesses working to grow demand through international sales. The announcement was made by WHRC Chair Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman.
"Strong rural communities are key to a stronger America," said Vilsack. "USDA continuously seeks opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers to expand overseas markets that contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and boost economic growth. Through the Administration's Made in Rural America Export and Investment Initiative, USDA is working to help farmers, ranchers and rural businesses access federal export programs, connect with new customers and markets abroad, and bring new opportunity to rural America."
"Global customers are more accessible than ever to rural American companies and their workers, and these workshops are a critical venue to provide businesses with the practical information they need to capitalize on trade opportunities," said Pritzker. "The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration has specialists in more than 105 locations nationwide and in 75 markets around the globe that stand ready to collaborate with export-ready rural businesses of all sizes to increase revenues, expand, innovate, and support well-paying jobs in their communities."
"We are proud to offer international shipping expertise and hands on know-how in support of the Made in Rural America Export and Investment initiative. At sixty workshops around the country, local Postmasters will demonstrate how to use online tools for easier mailing prep and educate attendees on global shipping options. Our goal is to make expanding into foreign markets easier than ever imagined for rural entrepreneurs and businesses," said Stroman.
The free series includes at least 60 Made in Rural America small business export workshops hosted by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in 24 states July 26 to Aug. 31, 2016. Partners including the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, USDA Rural Business Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority, National Association of Counties and others will also provide local and regional expertise in international shipping and mailing, international marketing assistance, rural business development and related topics.
The Made in Rural America export and investment initiative, launched by the Obama Administration in Feb. 2014, helps American businesses increase exports from rural areas by connecting companies with resources, expertise, counseling and technical assistance. The WHRC coordinates the program with participation from the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Postal Service and other agencies.
Census data from 2009 to 2014 (latest available) shows that the ranks of U.S. goods exporters rose from 277,000 to 304,000-and 98 percent of those companies were small and medium-sized firms. U.S. exports reached $2.26 trillion in 2015, up by $678 billion from 2009, and supported 1.9 million more jobs during the period.
U.S. agricultural exports alone supported more than 1 million American jobs both on and off the farm, a substantial part of the estimated 11.5 million jobs supported by exports all across our country. The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products totaling $911.4 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2015. In fiscal year 2015, American farmers and ranchers exported $139.7 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide.