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Letter: Office of Rural Policy

We recently celebrated National Agriculture Day, honoring the innumerable contributions rural America has made to our country. In Mississippi, rural interests are central to our state’s culture and economy. Agriculture is the state’s number one industry, and directly and indirectly employs nearly one-third of its workforce.

Just like urban areas, rural America faces challenges unique to its communities that require their own set of considerations and solutions. The White House has created an Office of Urban Policy, but it currently lacks a rural counterpart. That’s why my colleagues and I who serve on the Congressional Rural Caucus sent a letter to the president calling for an Office of Rural Policy.

I recently joined Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., in reestablishing and co-chairing the Rural Caucus, along with Vice Chairs Reps. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. The Rural Caucus is comprised of a bipartisan group of members dedicated to addressing the significant challenges that are unique to rural communities today, including education, health care, and telecommunications. Mississippi Reps. Gene Taylor and Bennie Thompson are among the nearly 80 members who currently serve on the caucus.

Our letter to the White House was the Rural Caucus’ first initiative as a re-formed body and was signed by more than half of our members.

The purpose of an Office of Rural Policy would be to provide rural America a seat at the table when it comes to crafting relevant policy, create a closer working relationship between rural and urban interests, and foster policies that benefit both communities. It would also help to coordinate individual efforts among rural offices within various government departments and agencies.

I look forward to hearing from the president, and continuing to work with the White House to help create sound rural policy that protects the interests of communities like those in Mississippi.

The Rural Caucus will also pursue its active involvement in policymaking through the implementation of task forces in telecommunications, health care, education and economic development, and transportation and infrastructure. In addition, the group will host speakers and experts to help keep members informed about the constantly changing face of rural America.

Rural issues are Mississippi issues, and I am honored to serve on the House Agriculture Committee as our state’s only member, and now as co-chair of the Rural Caucus. As always, please continue to keep me informed about your opinions and concerns by phone at (202) 225-4306 or by visiting my Web site at

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