Local News

U.S. education, agriculture secretaries visit Richmond County

Posted August 17, 2009 4:03 a.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2009 6:56 p.m. EDT

— The U.S. agriculture and education secretaries brought their rural tour to North Carolina on Monday.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary Arne Duncan held a forum on rural education in Hamlet to ask how their departments can help help their communities.

Hundreds of people from several counties showed up at Richmond Community College for the event.

“It’s all about keeping the wealth in the community that creates it,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack said farmers markets support local growers, who in-turn can enhance nutrition in local schools.

“(For) many of our students these are the only meals they get,” Duncan said. “I see too many of these meals thrown away. They’re not nutritious. They’re not healthy. We’re wasting money.”

Sen. Kay Hagan, who had planned to be there, canceled at the last minute. She had to attend to a family issue, her office said.

President Barack Obama said in June that Vilsack would lead a tour of the country's rural communities, along with other top officials. He also has visited communities in Louisiana, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and Colorado.

Noticeably absent from the forum were questions from the crowd about health care reform. Reporters were the only people asking Cabinet members and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr about health care.

“If, for some reason, you got health care reform wrong, where you feel it first – and feel it the most – is rural America,” Burr said. “That’s where health care doors will shut.”