ARLINGTON, Va. – NRECA CEO Jim Matheson today applauded recommendations by a White House Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to jump start the rural American economy. The task force was created in April by President Donald Trump.
“The success of rural America is critical to the wellbeing of our entire nation,” Matheson said. “This task force report rightfully identifies a number of key areas that are essential to economic growth, and nearly all depend on expanded access to high-speed internet. For decades, electric cooperatives have enhanced the quality of life throughout rural America. Now, co-ops across the nation are helping reinvigorate rural economies by bringing broadband access to homes and businesses.
“I appreciate the president starting this important conversation, and I commend Secretary Perdue for his leadership of the task force. America’s electric cooperatives look forward to continuing the conversation and working together on technology and funding solutions that will enrich the lives of rural American families and business. ”
The task force focused on five areas essential to rural growth:
- Connectivity and enhanced broadband access,
- Promoting the rural workforce;
- Quality of life (healthcare access, housing, education support);
- Technological innovation (food, farm, STEM, biotechnology, etc.)
- Economic development (infrastructure, access to capital, regulatory reform, natural resource use).
To promote rural broadband deployment, the report recommends:
- Reviewing the efficacy of federal broadband funding and determining the total capital investment necessary for rural broadband connectivity.
- Streamlining the application process for broadband funding.
- Leveraging federal assets to enhance access to broadband infrastructure.
Roughly 90 electric co-ops across the country are deploying broadband in their service territories to enhance their business operations and bridge the digital divide for their members.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.