One presidential candidate outlined his vision for rural America – including changing the role of the EPA – during RFD-TV News’ new Rural Town Hall series, a one-hour, town hall-style forum airing in more than 50 million homes across the country.

The closed production taping featured pre-selected questions solicited from key agricultural organizations, publications and viewers, according to an RFD-TV News press release.

Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson fielded questions concerning rural youths, education, biotechnology, food labeling, vegetarianism, the death tax, renewable fuels, agricultural subsidies, health care, social security, broadband, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), energy sources, pollinator health, federal farm programs, the rural workforce and immigration.

The Rural Town Hall presidential candidate series continues with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, 10 p.m. EDT Thursday. The forums will focus on rural American issues in advance of the 2016 presidential election, and all presidential candidates are expected to participate in the coming weeks, RFD-TV News representatives said.

During the forum, Carson talked about the EPA’s Clean Water Rule and the attributes he would look for in appointing a new EPA administrator.

“Certainly I would look for somebody who had some common sense. The EPA is an important organization, but they have been used for the wrong purpose and used to suppress the development of energy and other resources,” Carson said. “I would really change the role of the EPA from suppressing the development of our resources to working with business, industry and academia to find the cleanest, most environmentally friendly ways to do things.

“We want to pass things on to the next generation in at least as good of shape as we got them, he said. “But that doesn’t mean using environmental issues to inappropriately punish the people who are developing resources that are critical to our existence.”

Viewers can watch the Rural Town Hall series online at RFD-TV Country Club’s website, www.rfdcc.com.

Carson said if elected president he would gradually reduce agricultural subsidies available to farmers over a period of time.

“The reason I wouldn't do it acutely is because a lot of things have been built on those subsidies and you can't just withdraw that support immediately and expect people to be able to adjust,” Carson said. “I think our nation, as a whole, will be considerably stronger when the government is not involved in picking winners and losers.

“When it comes to very large entities that engage in entrepreneurial risk-taking – and a large segment of our society is going to be affected by their success or failure – that is a time when I think we have to be looking at certain types of insurance that we make available to them, because we cannot let one bad year destroy their entire operation.”

Produced in conjunction with Mediacom Connections Channel and AARP, encore airings of Rural Town Hall also will air on RFD-TV and Rural Radio SiriusXM Channel 147. The forums are conducted in a town hall format in front of a live audience. The program will air in more than 50 million homes on RFD-TV ahead of the 2016 presidential election, the news release said.

Audience members for the Carson forum included constituents from agricultural non-profits and organizations such as AARP, Iowa Pork Producers, the American Soybean Association, the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Rural Education Association, National Rural Health Association, American Agri-Women, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Crop Life America, America's Renewable Future, FFA, 4-H, the Des Moines Register, Mediacom, Agri-Pulse Communications, farmers and ranchers.

“The first Rural Town Hall exceeded my expectations. As the series continues to build momentum I think the political landscape will take notice of the unique format and our goal to devote an entire hour, 100-percent focused on rural and agricultural issues,” Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of Rural Media Group, said. “… our national television and radio audience of active voters continues to love and support this series."