Butterfield Pushes USDA to Increase Edgecombe Presence
Washington, D.C. – Congressman G. K. Butterfield is asking USDA to reestablish a Rural Development office in Edgecombe County, N.C.
“Without question, North Carolina’s rural communities are struggling against rising unemployment and poverty, limited access to credit, and falling local tax revenues as a result of this recession,” Butterfield said. “These struggling communities need Rural Development’s assistance in building infrastructure and creating jobs.”
Butterfield said that reestablishing a local Rural Development office in Edgecombe County would better allow the agency to work closely with the community to identify needs and develop solutions. Rural Development’s Edgecombe County Area Office was closed nearly two years ago, and the responsibility for Edgecombe County was transferred to the Smithfield, N.C.
Butterfield has sent a written request to reopen an Edgecombe County office to newly appointed state director for Rural Development Randall Gore.
Edgecombe County unemployment rate was 17 percent for October, ranking second worst in the state. Twenty-two percent of the population lives below the poverty line – more than 50 percent higher than the state level. And, as a Tier I County, it is designated as one of the 40 most economically distressed counties in North Carolina.
“It’s a set of circumstances that requires and deserves close attention,” Butterfield said.
Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 programs. These include Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which addresses rural needs for clean running water, sewers and waste disposal, electricity, and telecommunications; Rural Housing Services (RHS), which addresses rural needs for housing, health facilities, fire and police stations and other community facilities; Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), which helps to create new rural job opportunities; and, through its community development programs, which address unique and pressing economic development issues.
USDA's Rural Development mission is to enhance rural communities by targeting financial and technical resources to areas of greatest need. Rural Development has about $24.4 billion available in financial and technical resources to help rural communities across the country this year.
Rural Development often works in partnership with other entities – such as state, local, and tribal governments, private and non-profit organizations, and member-owned cooperatives – to revitalize rural areas. Its 6,100 employees provide services through 500 national, state and local offices.