Ladies and gentlemen:
We want to welcome you all to the Roosevelt Room for this signing ceremony. I have had the opportunity of meeting each of you individually, and I think the members of the press will be interested to know that perhaps there has never been gathered in one room in the White House a group of people more representative of one of the great sources of power in this country, economic power, than is gathered here now. Because we have here representatives of the agricultural community, those who are the most productive of all of America's economy, those who represent the rural heartland of this country.
And it is, therefore, very appropriate that this signing ceremony of the rural development special revenue sharing program occur in their presence. Because for the first time a national administration now takes an initiative in an area which has been forgotten, too often forgotten, forgotten in the sense that as we look at rural America, as we recognize the productivity of American agriculture, we realize that this is one area where we are first in the world and will remain first in the world because every year our farmers become more and more productive,
As they become more and more productive, however, rural America, where our farmers live, has become less and less a place that attracts people, people who will create the kind of life which will be meaningful for the years ahead in that part of the Nation.
And these new initiatives in which we will add approximately 35 percent to the funds previously granted to this part of the country will mean that the people who live in rural America, out through the great heartland of this country, now will have those programs, those programs that will attract the industry, the infrastructure, and everything else that is essential to provide the quality of life that the rural America, the farmers of America, agriculture of America, really deserves.
This new initiative I consider to be one of the most important. It is not the largest program. It is not the largest; but in terms of the amount of increase, it is the largest increase of any of the special revenue sharing programs.
That does not mean that we are putting less stress on the problems of cities, less stress on the problems of transportation, or the other areas. But it does mean that this is an area that is behind. This is an area in which we need to catch up and that is why we are putting more money, a greater portion of money, into rural America than we have previously.
And in signing this particular message, we certainly hope that we will have the backing of the agricultural community in getting its passage by the Congress of the United States.