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Trump signs order aimed at growing U.S. agriculture industry

By Doug G. Ware
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Trump signs order aimed at growing U.S. agriculture industry
President Donald Trump signs an executive order promoting agriculture during a roundtable with farmers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday took executive action in an effort to help grow the domestic agriculture industry during a meeting at the White House with more than a dozen U.S. farmers.

Trump's order establishes a task force in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate measures to spur industry growth and potentially remove obstacles -- another step in his general pledge to deregulate American business.

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Tuesday's order was signed less than a day after Trump's agriculture secretary, George "Sonny" Perdue, was easily approved by the Senate.

"With this order, I'm directing Secretary Perdue to work with other members of my Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation's farmers and rural communities," Trump said before signing the bill in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

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Perdue, though, faces a financial challenge as agriculture chief. Last month, Trump's 2018 budget blueprint proposed slashing the department's operating capital by more than 20 percent -- a cut that, if approved by Congress, will surely translate to fewer employees and greater workloads for those who remain in the department.

Trump signed the executive order as he met with 15 farmers from across the United States, including American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, Iowa Agriculture chief Bill Northey and Oklahoma lawmaker Lisa Johnson Billy.

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"Our intention [at the meeting] is for the president to meet each of these folks to hear a little bit about their operation and to hear what's on their minds," Ray Starling, special assistant to the president, said Monday. "One of the things that we will ask the task force to do is to take a look at ... how could it be most effective at establishing cross-agency communication and cross-agency collaboration that's good for agriculture."

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Trump's order directs Perdue to compile a presidential report within six months outlining potential obstacles in the U.S. agriculture industry. The task force will be made up of White House and administration staff. It also revokes President Barack Obama's 2011 executive order that established the White House Rural Council.

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