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USDA Announces Plans to Eliminate Position of Under Secretary for Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on May 11 plans to reorganize the agency to establish an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. The plan also details other changes to the agency, including the elimination of the position of Under Secretary for Rural Development, which oversees the agency’s rural housing programs. Rural development programs and personnel would report directly to the USDA Secretary.

“This proposal is part of a one-two punch in the gut for Rural America,” stated Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition (NRHC). “First, the Administration released a budget proposal that decimates important rural development programs. Then they move on a reorganization plan that downgrades rural development as an important function for USDA.” In a press statement, NRHC states that the proposal “sends a clear signal from the Administration that rural communities and those who live there are not a priority.”

While the administration’s proposal states that the elimination of the Rural Development Under Secretary “promotes the importance of rural development,” this plan comes on the heels of President Trump’s FY18 budget outline that proposed to cut the department’s budget by 20% and eliminate USDA’s largest rural development programs, including its water-wastewater loans and grants and the Rural Business service.

Further details on the administration’s proposal to reorganize USDA will likely be included in the president’s full FY18 budget proposal, which may be released as soon as the week of May 22.

USDA’s reorganization plan is at: http://bit.ly/2r4F7Wd

NRHC’s press statement is at: http://prn.to/2r50XsS