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Trump, in Nashville, outlines plans to spur rural economies

President Donald Trump salutes the crowd after signing

President Donald Trump salutes the crowd after signing two executive orders at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: AP / Mark Humphrey

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump traveled to Tennessee on Monday to outline in broad strokes his administration’s plan to spur economic development in rural America.

“We’re fighting for our farmers . . . and we’re fighting for our country,” Trump told the American Farm Bureau Federation, at the group’s annual convention in Nashville.

The president, speaking to a largely receptive crowd, said his administration would push Internet service providers to increase high-speed access in remote areas of the country. Sharing the stage with foe-turned-friend Sen. Bob Corker (R- Tenn.), Trump signed a pair of executive orders aimed at encouraging private companies to expand broadband access to rural communities by expediting the permitting process.

“Those towers are going to go up and you’re going to have great, great broadband,” Trump told the crowd at the Opryland Convention Center.

Thirty-nine percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed Internet service, compared with 4 percent of people living in cities, according to a 2016 Federal Communications Commission report.

Trump also vowed to push ahead on job-creating infrastructure projects, and promised to slash federal regulations that he argued hampered farmers.

The proposals were part of recommendations included in a report by the Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force that Trump convened last April. The advisory committee of farm industry stakeholders, headed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, also called for increased resources to fight the opioid crisis, which has disproportionately affected rural communities.

The president used the campaign-style appearance to again tout the tax reform plan he signed into law last month. He noted that under the GOP-backed tax plan, farmers can write off 100 percent of the cost of newly purchased farming equipment, instead of spreading out the deduction over several years.

“You deduct it all in one year as opposed to over many years,” Trump said.

Trump received a standing ovation when noting that the estate tax had been rolled back under the new tax plan. “So you can keep your farms in the family,” Trump said.

The $1.5 billion tax plan provides corporations with long-term deep tax cuts, but more modest cuts for middle- to low-income Americans that are set to expire after 2025, according to multiple independent studies of the plan.

Also Monday, Trump signed a measure into law designating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. National Site in downtown Atlanta as a national park. The designation will offer more protection and resources to the site, such as park rangers, and federal grants for educational programming, according to White House officials.

Trump also attended Monday night’s College Football National Championship game between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia in Atlanta. The president took the field during the national anthem, to jeers and cheers.

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