Trump announces choice for Rural Utilities Service administrator
February 6, 2018
President Donald Trump late Jan. 5 announced his intent to appoint Kenneth Johnson, a Missouri rural electric cooperative executive, as administrator of the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service.
"As President Trump pursues his comprehensive agenda of infrastructure improvements like increased broadband access for rural communities, adding Ken Johnson to the USDA team is exciting," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release.
Johnson is CEO/general manager of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Tipton, Mo., and president of its Internet subsidiary, Co-Mo Comm.
RUS administers programs that provide infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities.
According to the White House, Co-Mo, which serves a 2,300 square mile territory in central Missouri, was "the first to deploy a fiber-to-the-home network to all its members without federal or state funding, providing gigabit internet, video and voice services to nearly 16,000 subscribers."
"Ken's experience with rural utilities, including real success in expanding access to high-speed internet, will serve us well as we strive to increase prosperity across rural America," Perdue said.
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The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the organization representing more than 900 not-for-proift consumer-owned electric cooperatives, also praised the choice.
"We are excited and thrilled that Ken has been selected to lead the RUS program," said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.
"The ongoing collaboration between RUS and electric co-ops remains essential to the success of rural communities across the nation as co-ops invest in infrastructure upgrades to modernize the grid and meet consumer expectations," Matheson said. "Ken is exceptionally qualified to serve in this role and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity."
In his statement, Perdue mentioned the number of USDA nominations still awaiting hearings.
"While this is welcome news, I'd also like to take this opportunity to urge the U.S. Senate to take up key nominations we have pending, so we can add to our team and continue our mission of doing right and feeding everyone," Perdue said.