WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 – Several cabinet members and a White House official gathered at USDA headquarters today for a breakfast meeting of President Donald Trump’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

 Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who is chairing the task force, hosted the meeting. Attendees included Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance Ray Starling. Kipp Kranbuhl, a deputy assistant secretary  at the Treasury Department, represented Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the meeting.

The officials met in the building’s third-floor dining room to discuss their coordinated effort to reduce regulations, spur job creation and improve infrastructure in rural America.

"It was a very genuine conversation about the work of the Task Force and the real need to focus on removing the barriers to economic prosperity there,” Starling told Agri-Pulse. “It's not often five cabinet secretaries and the Chair of the FCC get together to focus exclusively on rural America, but that's precisely what Secretary Perdue pulled off this morning."

During the meeting, Perdue provided an update on the progress of four working groups, which are gathering recommendations on issues regarding the quality of life in rural America; the rural workforce; innovation, technology, and data; and economic development, USDA said. Participants discussed issues including access to broadband, community infrastructure, health care, workforce training and veterans’ employment, agricultural research, regulatory reform, improved access to capital, and increased local control of decision-making.

Perdue also hosted the first task force meeting at USDA on June 15, with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and FCC chair Pai attending.

“Rural America has been struggling under burdensome regulations…” Perdue said after the June meeting. “By establishing this task force, President Trump showed his commitment to prioritizing the prosperity of the farmers and ranchers of America's heartland, as well as all citizens living in rural communities across this great country.”

Trump signed an executive order establishing the task force on April 25. The group was given 180 days to issue a report with recommendations for legislative or administrative actions.


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