U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue had a busy first day in office — getting sworn in as the 31st Secretary, participating in a “Farmers Roundtable,” and now chairing a task force on rural prosperity created by an Executive Order signed by President Trump.
President Trump’s Executive Order established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.” As Secretary of Agriculture, Perdue will serve as the task force’s chairman.
“It is in the national interest to promote American agriculture while protecting and supporting the rural communities where food, forestry, fiber, and renewable fuels are grown,” the text of the Executive Order reads. “It is further in the national interest to ensure that regulatory burdens do not unnecessarily encumber agricultural production, constrain economic growth, hamper job creation, or increase the cost of food for Americans and our customers around the world.”
The task force will examine and consider, among other issues, current barriers to economic prosperity in rural America and how innovation and technology may play a role in long-term, sustainable rural development. The panel will attempt to strengthen federalism by working with state agencies charged with implementing economic development, agricultural, and environmental programs, while also emphasizing regulatory flexibility for farms and small businesses. With a dependence on sound science, task force members will examine crop protection tools used by farmers and also address concerns regarding labor needed for livestock and year-round agricultural jobs.
Additionally, the group will focus on tax policies that allow family farms to remain intact, while also protecting against federal takeover of state-adjudicated water rights, permitting and licensing, and conservation requirements beyond what is provided in law. Finally, members will look to improve food safety and the implementation of food safety laws, but also recognize the unique nature of farming and the diverse business structures of farms.
The task force will seek input from stakeholders in the agricultural community and is required to issue a report with recommendations for legislative or administrative actions within 180 days. The task force will consist of representatives from the following cabinet agencies and executive branch departments:
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of Defense
- Attorney General
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Commerce
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Secretary of Transportation
- Secretary of Energy
- Secretary of Education
- Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
- Director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
- Director of the Domestic Policy Council
- Director of the National Economic Council
- Administrator of the Small Business Administration
- United States Trade Representative
- Director of the National Science Foundation
- Heads of such other executive departments, agencies, and offices as the President or the Secretary of Agriculture may, from time to time, designate.
“It used to be that people in agriculture feared disease and drought as the greatest threats to their livelihoods and their mission of feeding America and the world,” Perdue said. “While those hazards remain, too often now it is the government – through interference and regulation – that poses the most existential threat to American farming. We aim to put a stop to that.”