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Rural broadband is our duty to farmers
By Sec. Sonny Perdue
January 8, 2018

Farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers know that the overall economy is booming again, and for that we are thankful and optimistic. But it is clear when you drive through the byways, small towns, and farmlands of our nation that rural America has not kept pace.

President Trump left no doubt that he cared for rural America when on April 25, 2017 — my first day as Secretary of Agriculture — he signed an executive order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. It has been a task force I have been proud to chair, and we took seriously our charge: to investigate circumstances in rural areas of the country, to formulate concrete solutions to situations limiting prosperity and to report back to the President.

Anyone who knows how the President operates will understand that this was an executive order, not an executive suggestion. We have publicly presented our final report to President Trump.

By the time the report was prepared for the President, we had identified over 100 actions the federal government should consider undertaking to ensure growth in America’s heartland. We organized these solutions around five key indicators: connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technological innovation, and economic development. Taken together, these proposals create a road map to reinvigorate rural America’s economy and its most precious resources — its people.

Each recommendation intersects with and complements the others, but the task force found one overarching need: improved high-speed internet access.

To increase access to broadband in rural areas, we must incentivize private capital investment, including the use of public-private partnerships. We must also invest in making high-speed Internet infrastructure more attractive by streamlining arduous review, approval, and permitting processes.

If we are to be successful, we will need the continuing input and support of the people in rural communities who work hard every day to feed, clothe, and fuel America and the world. The task force has worked diligently to pinpoint the needs of rural America — going forward, the White House and I will be wholly committed to ensuring that these needs are met. I invite you to read our final report and join us in this noble cause.

Read the full op-ed here.