President Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal investing in a wide range of infrastructure areas.
The White House described the American Jobs Plan as “an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China.” But what does this mean for rural America and those in the agriculture industry?
The proposal includes:
- $115 billion to repair roads and bridges
- $100 billion to expand high-speed broadband across the country
- $100 billion to upgrade and build new schools
- Investment in climate and clean energy infrastructure
Congress will ultimately decide and vote on, the provisions included in any infrastructure legislation. Discussions on Capitol Hill regarding an infrastructure package are currently taking place and farm groups are sharing farmer’s priorities with members of the House and Senate.
The proposal’s $115 billion is said to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, as well as roads and bridges, which would target the most economically significant large bridges and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. The proposal also includes $17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries.
The $100 billion to expand high-speed internet would enable 100 percent access across the entire country. This proposal will prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives. This will also reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption.
The Biden proposal also highlights the need to address climate change, reduce emissions, and promote clean air and energy, including investments in the electric vehicle market. The National Corn Growers Association is urging lawmakers account for ethanol’s low-carbon benefits, available today, in any future infrastructure package.
The Biden Administration is also proposing to pay for the infrastructure package with the Made in America Tax Plan. The tax plan would raise more than $2 trillion over 15 years by reforming corporate tax rules, among other provisions.
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said, “After decades of neglect, our nation’s infrastructure is barely holding together — a fact that has become especially apparent after the pandemic and extreme weather events disrupted the food supply chain, energy production, and other critical services. As the climate continues to change, our systems will inevitably be strained in other ways they are in no way prepared for.
“While much of the country could use infrastructure updates, rural communities have suffered disproportionately from underfunding. Those neighborhoods contain a larger portion of crumbling roads, bridges, and dams, and they also lack internet connectivity, affordable housing, and medical resources, all of which is holding residents back and contributing to rural flight.
“It is really encouraging to see these issues and others included in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. We sincerely hope that this will set the stage for comprehensive improvements that strengthen rural communities, build resilience to climate change, and hasten economic recovery.”
In a press release, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The plan promises to close the broadband gap in rural America for millions of Americans, which is so critical for health care, education, and employment in our digital age.”