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Press Release:

For Immediate Release

Lumbee Tribal Administration and Ag Department Staff Visit the White House to Look at Opportunities for Rural Communities

Washington, DC (May 17, 2024) - Tribal Administrator Ricky Harris and Lumbee Tribe Agriculture and Natural Resources Department Manager Larry Edwards traveled to Washington DC this week following an invitation from the White House to participate in sessions at the Rural Communities in Action event which serves to lift up opportunities for rural communities. The sessions gave Harris and Edwards a chance to interact and hear from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, White House Staff, USDA Staff, US Senators, as well as other community leaders from across the nation as they spoke about rural issues like labor, infrastructure, healthcare and building economy. The meetings allowed the attendees to gain better knowledge of federal grants and programs available.

The "Rural Communities in Action" event welcomed a small, select group of rural leaders from across the nation with a goal to showcase significant investments and initiatives in rural America by the Biden-Harris administration, including the American Rescue Plan, bipartisan infrastructure legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Rural Partner Network, among others.

Edwards said the meetings allowed him to see the enthusiasm of the federal staffers and their desire to make a change in rural communities. “One of the big things that was echoed throughout the day was that you don’t have to leave home to make a living,” according to Edwards. “They stressed the importance that if someone wants to live in rural America, that they should be able to do so and make a family.”

The White House event also spotlighted success stories from rural leaders and provided a platform to recognize individuals making a positive impact through partnerships with the administration via the new White House Rural Initiative. “In the afternoon, we had small group breakout sessions and that allowed us to discuss issues we face here at home,” said Harris. “We shared how one of the big items we are tackling is the Housing crisis across our tribal territory, but it also allowed us to tell our story about continued efforts and focus on full federal recognition through the Lumbee Fairness Act, which has been a goal of Lumbee Tribal Chairman John Lowery and the Lumbee People.”


Additional Background The Biden-Harris Administration launched the Rural Partners Network (RPN), a new whole-of-government effort led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to transform federal agencies into partners with rural communities and Tribal Nations. This initiative, which will bring the federal government to rural America, holds great promise for the future of rural communities and Tribal Nations.

Attendees were invited to participate in a new whole-of-government effort to transform the way federal agencies partner with rural communities and Tribal Nations to create economic opportunity. New federal field staff will be placed in states and Tribal Nations to help local leaders navigate and access the federal resources they need to build a strong and vibrant community. The federal government will go to the rural American with the first cohort of 5 states to begin by the end of May. North Carolina will participate in the second cohort soon afterward.


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