Transportation, broadband and utilities make up the bulk of funding for a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed this month by the House.
The 228-206 vote includes $550 billion toward transportation, broadband and utilities; $110 million for roads and bridges; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; and $39 billion for public transit.
“Farm Bureau has long advocated for critical investment in our roads, bridges, locks, dams and other vital infrastructure that helps us bring in inputs and get what we produce to the consumer,” said John Kran, national legislative counsel for Michigan Farm Bureau.
“We are also glad to see there’s an increased investment in rural broadband to help us stay connected with customers, operate businesses, and utilize precision agriculture and other technologies so Michigan agriculture can continue to compete regionally and globally.”
According to the National Corn Growers Association, 60% of corn exports move on inland waterways systems, proving maintenance is critical for its function.
“This is a once in a generation infrastructure investment that will help farmers for years to come,” NCGA President Chris Edgington said in a statement.
Those roadways, waterways and railways are needed by farmers to “keep our country fed,” said American
Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“Extending broadband to rural communities is just as much a priority,” Duvall added.
“A quarter of America’s farm families have no high-speed internet access while working to meet the needs of a growing world. Investments in physical infrastructure like broadband will be critical to bridging the digital divide.”
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said increased funding in broadband will allow farmers to maintain their competitive edge.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to build up rural America with wealth that stays in rural communities, jobs you can raise a middle-class family on, and the ability to compete around the world,” Vilsack said.
The infrastructure bill now awaits signature from President Biden.