Secretary Perdue speaking at White House Conference on Rural Prosperity DOI Photo by Tami Heilemann.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during the White House Conference on Rural Prosperity in Washington, D.C., on January 30, 2018. He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D and numerous other administration officials.

Leaders gather at White House conference on rural prosperity

State and local leaders and Cabinet officials convene at conference geared toward removing barriers to success for rural America.

State and local leaders convened at the White House Tuesday for the White House Conference on Rural Prosperity, where Vice President Mike Pence, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, U.S. Food & Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and other Administration officials addressed the important opportunities for the federal government and states to work together to advance rural America.

The event brought together leaders from around the country to meet with Pence and Cabinet members to discuss how the federal government can assist rural communities.

During the conference, Perdue and Gottlieb signed a formal agreement to bolster coordination and collaboration between the two agencies on a number of issues, including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation and the Coordinated Framework for Biotechnology.

Steven K. Reviczky, member of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and commissioner of agriculture for Connecticut, underscored the importance of cooperative state/federal partnerships in advancing agriculture.

“Increased opportunities for state/federal cooperation to enhance food safety are always welcome,” Reviczky said. “This cooperation is vital for the success of farmers and takes the preventive approach to food safety to new levels. We look forward to working with the Administration to advance the goals of the agreement."

He added that NASDA appreciates the commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA "to enhance cooperation, especially in implementing the FSMA produce safety rule and the Coordinated Framework for Biotechnology. The USDA has significant expertise on farm practices, and we are happy to see both agencies commit to working more closely to improve FSMA implementation. Our farmers can better meet the safety expectations of the public as a result from collaboration between the two agencies.”

“Vice President Pence reiterated that rural America has been a priority for the Trump Administration from the beginning,” said Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge, who attended the conference. “It is refreshing for Washington to acknowledge that rural communities are the backbone of our country. Rural prosperity means American prosperity."

Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, along with Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Chuck Gipp, attended the conference on behalf of Iowa.

“I was honored to be invited to join this important conversation on rural prosperity,” Gregg said. “From trade to regulations to labor issues to broadband, our conversation touched on numerous issues that are important to life in rural America.”

Jim Steineke, majority leader of the Wisconsin state Assembly, said discussions at the conference revolved around how decisions made in Washington, D.C., can affect rural communities.

“Being surrounded by like-minded public servants focused on finding innovative ways to create opportunities for our rural workers, families and businesses was an incredibly productive way to spend the morning,” Steineke said. “Northeast Wisconsin deserves all of their elected officials – local, state and federal alike – to be attentive their needs.”

Investing in infrastructure and providing access to broadband in rural Wisconsin communities was a main focus for Steineke. These tools would provide rural farmers and workers with the ability to grow and succeed. Additionally, Steineke engaged with federal officials to discuss how fewer regulations and smarter trade policies could improve agricultural outcomes for those in northeast Wisconsin.

“Understanding the tools our farmers and families need to be successful is the first step in moving our rural communities forward,” Steineke added.

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