Biden pushes rural investment message with MN visit
Thursday, November 2, 2023
President Joe Biden was in southern Minnesota yesterday to highlight federal investments for rural America.
Biden visited a farm near Northfield to discuss funding from recent packages such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, with the latter focusing on climate projects and health care assistance.
For agriculture, the administration said there is new funding for farmers to take advantage of climate-friendly practices, such as nutrient management, with other provisions designed to create market fairness.
Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, spoke at the event and said the efforts allow rural residents to keep their communities vibrant.
"They want their families to have the opportunity to farm and to work, and to raise their families in the small communities where they come from," Vilsack explained.
While the infrastructure law received support from lawmakers on both sides, Republicans strongly opposed the Inflation Reduction Act. They've been trying to cut some elements of the law amid budget battles in Congress. Some of the proposed rollbacks would come under the Farm Bill reauthorization, with opponents of such moves arguing there would be a negative effect on rural communities.
Meanwhile, $65 billion has been set aside within the infrastructure law to boost access to high-speed internet, with the hopes of enhancing efforts to close broadband gaps in rural areas.
Josh Sumption, chief technology and information officer for the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative, said they welcome any help in putting local students in a better position to learn in the digital age.
"For schools, it's really about students being able to continue to learn and take their homework home," Sumption pointed out. "And stay connected to their educational institutions and the resources that they're using in the classroom."
Like other voices in education, he said the pandemic made worse some of the internet connection challenges rural students face. Sumption acknowledged recent federal investments might not close all broadband gaps but hoped more projects will be shovel-ready very soon, citing additional funding from the state.
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