Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan met with local leaders and business owners at the Solano County Government Center to gather input on how the Obama administration can work with local businesses in the agriculture sector to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The event is one in a series of roundtables being held across the nation with senior Obama administration officials on behalf of the White House Business Council.

"We know that to build a robust economic future for our country, we must continue to invest in rural communities and create new economic opportunities for those who call rural America home," said Merrigan. "That includes creating jobs by modernizing critical infrastructure, expanding educational opportunities, supporting initiatives that connect farmers and consumers, and promoting the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products."

Merrigan highlighted how USDA's efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems could spur economic development in Solano County by helping farmers of all types and sizes take advantage of new opportunities and succeed in today's diverse marketplace. The dramatic growth of local food markets over the past few years has spurred job growth in local food production and related industries, keeping more wealth in rural communities and more farmers on their land.

The roundtable discussions offer government leaders the unique opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country to gather their ideas on how to grow the economy. They also are intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help businesses, residents, and communities.