WASHINGTON — The second-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is to be in Oklahoma today to promote the Obama administration’s rural economic development efforts and its fight for child nutrition.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is expected to make a national funding announcement in Kingfisher at the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, which has received stimulus money to expand broadband Internet service to unserved and underserved areas.
In Lucas country
Kingfisher is in the district of Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. Lucas, of Cheyenne, has been harshly critical of the administration’s proposed cuts in farm programs.
Lucas said Wednesday that he was pleased Merrigan would be acknowledging "the outstanding work of the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative. It is an important part of many communities throughout rural Oklahoma.
"During her visit, I hope she will take the time to listen to the concerns of Oklahomans, including our agricultural producers. I hope she’ll walk away with a greater understanding of the needs and desires of rural communities, and how important it is for the administration to support both production agriculture and rural infrastructure in strengthening rural economies.”
Merrigan plans to have lunch with children at Will Rogers Elementary School in Shawnee and talk about the efforts to improve the Child Nutrition Act.
The USDA oversees the school lunch and breakfast program.
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