President's Message December 2016

 WHERE ARE WE NOW?

 

Today enters the time of year when we take a deep breath, appreciate America, celebrate Christmas and begin to envision our expectations for the year 2017.

When the administration defunded the Resource Conservation and Development program as administered by NRCS on April 15, 2011, few volunteers could understand why.  They were shocked. 

Some had an immediate flash back to the many successful programs that had indeed benefited their communities and throughout the state advanced the development of Tennessee.

But, when US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered his harsh message in December of 2012, "Rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country." - the mirage was painted.

Yes, we've heard comments on shrinking rural population and the political relevance that has occurred, however, the results of the recent Presidential election suggest that small cities and rural America contributed to the surprise outcome.

During the past few years, the poverty rates are much higher in rural Tennessee.  We've seen small manufacturers close due to their inability to compete with imports, and agriculture has been under constant attack.  Economists point to the past number of years when the US economy has failed to enjoy even a single year of 3 % growth. 

Are we destined for a political conundrum in our America?

Some suggest the problem is the Electoral College, some immigration, some lack of leadership and others say stop playing politics.  Although we hate to admit it, does the quote, "Political leaders are driven by personal imperatives as much as public ones," represent a continuum that can't be changed?

In a recent article, Secretary Vilsack suggested that Democrats need a better message for rural America.  He says he understands why party leaders chose a different path to try for electoral victory, focusing on expanding populations like Hispanics and African Americans who had come out in large numbers to vote for Barack Obama.

Could this election result in a victory for rural America?  Is it possible the Democrats and Republicans will recognize that all Americans - urban and rural are vital to the future of this nation?

2017 may be the year to let your congressional delegation know that rural America needs their help in creating a world in which future generations can live and prosper.  That can be the new normal.

As we celebrate Christmas heritage this year, let us be thankful that we live in a nation that allows free choice of religion and at the same time protects our right to be a Christian by choice and openly observe Christmas with family.

Where are we now?

 

Bill G Williams, President

Tennessee RC&D Council