U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told the membership at the 99th annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention that he’ll present the results gathered by a new rural prosperity task force to President Trump.
“We envision a rural America with world-class resources, and we want to build a robust community for generations to come,” Perdue said, adding that the report contains more than 100 actionable items in five areas including e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technology and economic development, that are designed to help improve life in rural America.
President Trump signed an executive order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April 2017, when Perdue was sworn in as Secretary.
Perdue noted that anyone who lives in “what used to be called flyover country” knows rural America hasn’t kept pace and population has been stagnant, at best. He spent much of the summer and fall traveling to 30 states in an RV tour, gathering information and talking to rural stakeholders.
“We listened and learned about what’s working and what’s not,” he said. “As we traveled from place to place, it was clear that people believe the folks in Washington, D.C. had stopped listening to them. They’re tired of lip service, slogans, and benign or purposeful neglect.
“We found a real hunger from people wanting to be heard,” he added. “The result is a report that identifies changes to promote rural growth.”
Perdue spoke passionately about tearing down regulatory burdens on agriculture, and asked farmers to help him identify rules “that you encounter every day that are an impediment and harmful to your productivity.” Farmers can share those situations at USDA’s new rural prosperity website.
AFBF members responded with resounding applause to Perdue’s declaration that the Trump administration is “rolling back onerous regulations” at USDA and all across the federal government, quoting the President’s admonition to cut two old regulations for every new one instituted.
Further, Perdue said the “Trump administration has cut out 22 regulations for every new one that’s come on the books,” and claims those efficiencies will save $56 million annually.
Perdue said he’s restructuring USDA to be more responsive to the people it serves, moving agencies like FSA, Risk Management and NRCS under one roof because they’re interrelated. The idea is to better serve agriculture.
“I’m a grow it and sell it kind of guy. If you keep growing it, USDA will do our very best to help you sell it,” he added.