WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) raised concerns over plans announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today in Cincinnati that will leave USDA’s Rural Development program without a Senate-confirmed Undersecretary to help continue the success of the program.

According to reports, Perdue will eliminate the Undersecretary for Rural Development. At the same time, he will create a new Undersecretary for Trade. While Brown supports the new trade position, he said it should not come at the expense of the Rural Development Program which has awarded Ohio nearly $6 billion in loans and grants between 2009 and 2016.

“I welcome the extra emphasis on trade and look forward to working with USDA to sell Ohio ag products around the world,” Brown said. “But I do not support eliminating the Undersecretary for Rural Development. Ohio counts on USDA Rural Development for support for everything from combating opioids, to building hospitals, to securing loans for local businesses to grow and create jobs. Ohio’s rural communities are too often overlooked by Washington as it is, and downgrading USDA Rural Development sends a message that rural Ohio is not a priority for this Administration. No matter what, I will keep fighting to make sure Ohio communities get the support they need.”

Brown supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities. USDA Rural Development grants fund everything from building hospitals, to combatting opioids, to wastewater treatment infrastructure. This follows a 21 percent cut to USDA in the Administration’s budget and the proposed elimination of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a critical resource for rural Ohio. Brown spoke out against cuts to ARC.