RURAL AMERICA HAS BEEN LEFT BEHIND: President Donald J. Trump has charged the Rural Prosperity Task Force with examining the challenges facing rural America.

  • Rural employment has grown slower than employment in urban areas, and was the slowest to recover from the recession.
  • Many Americans living in rural communities continue to face barriers that prevent them from attaining the quality of life they deserve.
    • Poverty rates are disproportionately high in many rural communities.
    • Access to adequate transportation is a hindrance to many rural Americans.
    • Insufficient access to medical care means health problems can be exceptionally hard to overcome for Americans living in rural areas.
  • Too many rural Americans do not have necessary broadband access needed to engage in the modern economy.
    • According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans, or 23 million people, lack sufficient broadband access.
    • Insufficient broadband networks in rural areas leave many Americans without access to services such as telemedicine and long distance learning.
    • High costs of deployment have kept commercial internet providers from installing equipment in rural areas.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO RURAL PROSPERITY: President Trump’s Rural Prosperity Task Force has proposed recommendations to help rural America grow and thrive.  

  • President Trump established the Rural Prosperity Task Force on April 25, 2017, to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes needed to help secure a prosperous future for rural America.
    • The Task Force is chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and includes local leaders and representatives from 22 Federal departments and agencies.
  • The Task Force identified more than 100 actions centering on five key areas that can help achieve a better future for rural America.
  • Connectivity for rural America: Electronic connectivity is essential for rural communities to succeed. To ensure rural American can compete, the report recommends:
    • assessing the current state and effectiveness of rural connectivity and supporting programs;
    • establishing a leadership team among the White House and various departments to ensure better access to electronic connectivity; and
    • cutting red tape to encourage investment in high-speed internet.
  • Quality of Life Improvement: In order to achieve prosperity, rural Americans must have a high quality of life. To improve quality of life, the report recommends:
    • targeting rural areas for transportation investment using current programs;
    • establishing public-private partnerships to help rural Americans complete an education; and
    • expediting infrastructure and technology investment in electric and water utilities for rural communities.
  • Support for a Rural Workforce: Every rural community needs job opportunities for its residents and rural businesses need qualified workers. To increase the availability of qualified workers, the report recommends:
    • expanding apprenticeship programs, particularly in healthcare and trade industries;
    • centralizing access to Federal job training programs and encouraging agencies to partner with the Department of Agriculture to host programs at local offices; and
    • improving the H-2A program through new policies and regulatory changes.
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation: Continued American leadership in agricultural production and productivity will require leveraging emerging technologies across American farmlands. To promote innovation, the report recommends:
    • developing best practices to better leverage big data collection and analysis for agricultural applications;
    • expediting FAA regulatory waiver approvals for low-altitude unmanned aircraft system flights in rural environments; and
    • modernizing and streamlining a science-based regulatory policy to expedite the commercialization of safe biotechnology products.
  • Rural Economic Development: By empowering rural economies, we empower America’s economy. To develop rural economies, the report recommends:
    • creating an online Rural Prosperity Portal to help facilitate investment in rural communities;
    • removing regulatory barriers to develop and access natural resources in rural areas; and
    • increasing access to capital in rural communities by identifying projects for private investment.

REBUILDING RURAL AMERICA: President Trump’s Administration will build on existing projects and efforts to support rural America. 

  • On November 6, 2017, the Department of Agriculture announced it will invest more than $200 million to help bring broadband to rural communities.
  • President Trump’s Department of Agriculture has announced it will invest $2.5 billion in electric infrastructure improvements in rural areas.
  • In fiscal year 2017, the Department of Agriculture provided more than $1 billion to help improve access to health care for rural Americans.
    • This $1 billion helped 2.5 million Americans living in rural communities in 41 States.
  • The Department of Agriculture invested more than $40 million to improve infrastructure in rural America in fiscal year 2017.
  • President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, which will provide needed tax cuts to America’s farmers.
    • Most farms are organized as pass-through businesses, which will benefit from both lower tax rates across the board and a 20 percent deduction in their taxable income.
    • The vast majority of family farms will be exempt from the estate tax.
    • Farmers will be able expense 100 percent of their capital investments, such as equipment, over the next four years.