NRECA applauded the principles Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue laid out for a 2018 Farm Bill, which include a call for infrastructure improvements and development of reliable and affordable broadband internet in rural areas.
“We are pleased that Secretary Perdue recognizes the vital role of rural development in this year’s Farm Bill,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Investing in rural infrastructure is the foundation of rural innovation and prosperity.”
Perdue urged Congress to consider a package of legislative principles that the agency developed based on meetings with farmers in 30 states.
The principles, which Perdue unveiled Jan. 24 in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, “are our way of letting Congress know what we’ve heard from the hardworking men and women of American agriculture,” he said.
The list includes a call for legislators to “expand and enhance the effectiveness of tools available to further connect rural American communities, homes, farms, businesses, first responders, educational facilities, and health care facilities to reliable and affordable high-speed internet services.”
USDA says the bill should further provide for investment in infrastructure “to support rural prosperity, innovation and entrepreneurial activity” and “provide the resources and tools that foster greater integration among programs, partners and the rural development customer.”
Matheson said USDA’s guideposts for the Farm Bill underscore the important work of electric cooperatives.
“Electric cooperatives are engines of economic development and technology drivers in rural communities, including providing energy and broadband solutions to farmers and other businesses that enhance their competitiveness,” said Matheson.
“There are many programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that are crucial to the prosperity of rural areas. We look forward to working with Secretary Perdue, the White House and Congress to ensure that the 2018 Farm Bill addresses the many pressing issues facing rural Americans.”