Perdue happy to re-establish undersecretary for rural development
December 13, 2018
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters Dec. 13 he is "grateful" that the farm bill mandates the re-establishment of the Agriculture undersecretary for rural development.
At a press conference following an event announcing a rural broadband program, Perdue said that rural development "deserves an undersecretary." Perdue abolished the position when he created the position of undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, which was mandated in the 2014 farm bill.
Perdue maintained that the law forbade USDA from having more than seven undersecretary slots. Perdue abolished the position of undersecretary for rural development and established an assistant for rural development within his office to handle the rural development functions. But some lobbyists have questioned whether USDA really had to abolish the undersecretary slot.
Rural development includes USDA electricity, telephone, Internet programs and others that pay for water and sewer systems in the poorest rural communities, build community facilities and encourage renewable energy.