Several weeks ago, Rural Development Deputy Undersecretary Doug O’Brien planned a trip to Missouri and Illinois to see and talk about projects made possible through Rural Development. The scope of O’Brien’s visit changed.
“It wasn’t necessarily a drought tour, but I’ve got to tell you now, that I will be traveling in Missouri, and particularly through parts of Illinois, investigating some of the dire effects of the drought,” said O’Brien, during an interview with Brownfield.
O’Brien, along with many other USDA officials on the ground in drought affected areas, will relay to Secretary Vilsack what he is seeing. As useful as Rural Development projects are, O’Brien concedes that it doesn’t match the Farm Service Agency in direct drought relief. He adds, however, that the lack of rain gives uncertainty to the small communities that are served by Rural Development.
“Right now we have such a big sector of our economy in rural places and in particular throughout the Corn Belt,” said O’Brien. “Without some predictability, I think it just makes it more difficult for everybody, so we’re on a good track, we’ve got this drought that really shows that we do need some constant policy here.”
O’Brien visited Missouri and Illinois Thursday and Friday.