The following are responses and recommendations from members of the National Rural Assembly community about the Trump administration’s recent Executive Order forming a new Rural Task Force. These comments represent the diversity of rural people and places, across ages, sectors, geographies and issue areas.

“…I encourage Secretary Perdue and members of the task force to address a wide variety of rural economic and community topics as well as agriculture. Housing, health care, broadband, economic development, and many other concerns are different in rural America than in cities. I also strongly recommend that the task force actively seek direct input from all rural Americans.”

– Moises Loza, Executive Director, Housing Assistance Council

 “Part of me is encouraged to see the Trump administration reach out for input on what rural places need.  I would hope and urge them to engage and seek the counsel of real people from these places, not talking heads, not pundits.  There’s a body of work that’s already being done that is making a real difference in people’s lives.  Let’s get the people who have been the boots on the ground for years in the room.

Finally, I hope they give special consideration to the places which have experienced persistent poverty and have been the hardest to serve.  These areas include Appalachia, the Deep South, the Colonias, and Native American lands.” 

– Jim King, President and CEO, Fahe

“We all know most of rural America is in a state of rapid change and growth. We are both trapped in the infrastructure of yesterday while at the same time eagerly preparing ourselves for the economies of tomorrow. Having a task force to examine our concerns in rural America and suggest legislative and regulatory changes will help clear the broken policies of yesterday that are outdated and impede our progress. This task force is something we desperately need as our families and communities hang in the balance. As long as rural America’s best interest is at heart and not corporate America’s best interests, then I believe this task force will help facilitate the changes our communities desperately need.” 

– Adam Strong, National Council of Young Leaders – Opportunity Youth United

“Since the 2016 US presidential election, everyone has been hyper aware of the need to bring the voices of everyday citizens into public discourse and decision making. Trump’s campaign promised as much to his rural constituents, albeit doing so by appealing to the discontent rural people feel in their present situations and associating that with the current regulations and polices that are in place. As we evaluate the Administrations’ proposed budget for Rural America and the President’s executive orders, mostly aimed at deregulating and defunding, we must have strong voices on the Rural Task Force who will ensure that we don’t simply tear down structures and support systems without having a clear and transparent pathway forward. Furthermore, the proposed new structures must protect our public assets from privatization, prioritize local control, be comprehensive in nature to ensure quality of life indicators are met or exceeded, and create greater spaces for civic engagement. If the Administration succeeds in appeasing the dissatisfied, but fails to empower rural Americans, our prosperity as a nation is in jeopardy.”  

– Anna Claussen, Director, Rural Strategies, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

“Rural places in our country add tremendous value to our society and economy. I hope the rural task force will engage diverse people who are working to transform their communities every day. It is also important to direct resources to support small businesses and promote the arts and humanities.” 

– Tim Lampkin, CEO, Higher Purpose Co. LLC

“Over 50% of the land in the western U.S. (640 million acres) is owned and managed by the federal government. These landscapes are overwhelmingly rural and provide the food, fiber, energy, and other natural resources that our entire country depends on. We hope that this Executive Order details strategies for increased public and private investment to improve the stewardship of these forests, rangelands, and waterways. An effective approach should address the massive backlog of maintenance on public lands, as well as reevaluate the draconian budget cuts to county and rural business development that were proposed for the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior in President Trump’s ‘skinny budget.’ Numerous suggestions already exist that could achieve diverse conservation, recreation, energy, and economic development outcomes across the rural West.”

– Dylan Kruse, Policy Director, Sustainable Northwest and member of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition leadership team

 “We are excited to see a rural focus within the new Administration, and we certainly hope that rural health care remains a priority. We are experiencing a rural hospital closure crisis with 80 rural hospitals closing since 2010, and we are also seeing declining life expectancies among rural Americans.  We need a national strategy for rural America, and rural relevant healthcare solutions as we move forward.”

– Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association

“The Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition strongly supports investments in our rural communities. Rural community leaders are working together on solutions that benefit the economy, the environment, and our communities. We hope that the new executive task force looks to these solutions as a blueprint to build the healthy landscapes and thriving rural communities we need.”

– Karen Hardigg, Director, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition

“We are hopeful that this task force will encourage the Administration to revisit proposed budget cuts that would cripple rural innovation and progress. The Administration should look for ways to support efforts that would alleviate the disproportionately high rates of childhood poverty in rural places and expand programs that support essential services like broadband, healthcare, and quality education.

When rural economies, schools, hospitals, and lands are healthy, the whole nation benefits.

The National Rural Assembly looks forward to working with this task force to build a healthier, greener, and more inclusive nation that values all the people, in all the places.”

– Whitney Kimball Coe,  Coordinator, National Rural Assembly