Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue ceremonially presented the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to President Trump Jan. 8 at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
The 23-page document identifies the many needs and opportunities of rural communities and recommends more than 100 legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to address them.
"With the voice of rural America leading the way, and in close collaboration with local, state, and tribal leaders, 22 federal agencies, offices, and executive departments accepted the challenge to make rural America great again," Perdue said in a statement. "We traveled to 30 states, held two RV Tours covering over 2,200 miles, and most importantly, we listened to the people of rural America."
The recommendations of the task force centered around these five areas:
- Quality of Life,
- Rural Workforce,
- Technology, and
- Economic Development.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson applauded the report.
"For too long, rural communities have lagged behind their urban counterparts, both socially and economically, and the federal government has not provided the tools or funding necessary to bridge the gap," Johnson said. "The priorities outlined in the report are essential to tackling longstanding disparities, by both bolstering the economies of as well as improving the quality of life within rural communities."
In particular, Johnson cited the area of broadband access, which he said is critical to economic development, educational opportunities and access to health care in rural areas. He called Trump's executive orders that reduce regulatory barriers a first step.
"We urge President Trump and Congress to act quickly to uphold their promises by providing major federal investment in a comprehensive infrastructure package,” Johnson said.
National Pork Producers Council said the task force recommendations are in line with the priorities of the U.S. pork industry.
“Addressing workforce issues and federal rules and maintaining export markets, coupled with the recently approved tax cuts, will help revitalize rural America,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “President Trump, Agriculture Secretary Perdue and the team at the White House National Economic Council are to be commended for putting together a plan that will aid farmers and ranchers.”
"High-speed internet access and robust wireless networks are essential to fully utilize the tools and technology of precision agriculture," said Daren Coppock, President and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association. "The administration's focus on expanding broadband networks in rural communities will help farmers, ranchers and agricultural retailers further unlock the power of these tools, as well as help maintain America's competitive advantage in the global ag economy."
On April 25, 2017, Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.”
Source: USDA, NFU