The Center for Rural Affairs said that rural America stands to suffer as a result of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s reorganization, announced by USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue Thursday.“The Center for Rural Affairs has fought on behalf of rural communities for nearly 45 years, said Policy Associate Anna Johnson. “We are heartened that Sec. Perdue is making strong efforts during his early days in office to express support for rural communities. However, we are concerned about the path he has chosen.”
Purdue has proposed eliminating the position of Undersecretary for Rural Development and moving oversight of Rural Development agencies to the Deputy Secretary, USDA’s second-in-command.
“If he makes this change, Sec. Perdue will be removing the position of the most significant rural advocate within USDA. Rural America stands to suffer as a result,” Johnson said.
“While USDA has a broad mission to promote and support our country’s food and agriculture, Rural Development is the only part of USDA that has the explicit directive to support rural communities,” she said.
USDA’s Rural Development agencies – the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, the Rural Utilities Service, and the Rural Housing Service – provide loans for treating wastewater and construction of single and multi-family homes.
Other Rural Development programs include Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program and Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
Sec. Perdue’s reorganization announcement follows a request by the Trump Administration to cut the USDA budget by more than 20 percent. That proposal includes eliminating the Rural Business-Cooperative Service and Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Programs.