Bolstering Communities, Conserving Landscapes, and Empowering Farmers
President Joe Biden has announced a significant investment of $5 billion towards rural America, with a focus on supporting disadvantaged communities, conserving landscapes, and assisting farmers. The announcement was made during President Biden’s visit to a farm in Minnesota. This investment aims to address the challenges faced by rural America and ensure that individuals and communities have equal opportunities regardless of their ZIP code.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has provided a breakdown of the spending:
- $1.7 billion allocated for landscape-scale conservation across 35 states
- $145 million for renewable energy projects benefiting 697 businesses and farms in 44 states
- $2 billion targeted towards aiding 36 disadvantaged communities across America and Puerto Rico
According to Vilsack, this investment reflects President Biden’s commitment to equity and ensuring that everyone has access to resources and opportunities.
Improving Internet Access and Closing the Digital Divide
Along with the aforementioned investments, a portion of the funding will be directed towards improving internet access in rural communities. The goal is to bridge the digital divide and ensure that individuals have access to essential services such as telehealth, education, and economic opportunities. Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to President Biden and White House infrastructure implementation coordinator, emphasized the importance of internet access for rural Americans, stating, “No kid should have to sit in the back of their mom’s car to get their homework done.”
Providing Affordable and Reliable Internet
The investment will also address the affordability of internet services. Landrieu stated that a connection is only meaningful if it is accessible to all, and efforts will be made to make internet services affordable for rural residents. This will enable individuals to fully utilize the benefits of connectivity without facing financial barriers.
Empowering Native American Tribes and Rural Communities
The funding will support various projects across different states. For example, a Native American tribe in Oklahoma will receive funding to construct a fiber network, connecting 6,000 residents to high-speed internet. Missouri’s rural electric cooperative will also benefit from funding, enabling them to establish a fiber network and connect 2,500 people, 78 businesses, 76 farms, and six schools. These initiatives aim to empower rural communities and enhance their access to critical resources.
Investing in the Future of Rural America
Neera Tanden, assistant to President Biden and domestic policy adviser, emphasized the importance of this investment in improving the quality of life in rural America. The goal is to create opportunities within rural communities, enabling the next generation to thrive without having to leave their hometowns. By investing in rural America, the Biden administration aims to ensure that individuals can pursue economic opportunities while remaining connected to their roots.
Nationwide Rollout and Cabinet Officials’ Visits
In addition to the funding announcement, the Biden administration has planned an ambitious schedule for top cabinet officials and other representatives to visit states across the country. The purpose of these visits is to highlight the investment being made in rural America and engage with local communities. Cabinet officials, such as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, will be visiting various states to discuss specific initiatives and address the needs of rural Americans.
Supporting Veterans, Agriculture, and Water Infrastructure
Secretary McDonough, for instance, will travel to Iowa to highlight the administration’s commitment to ensuring that veterans living in rural communities have access to quality medical care. Secretary Vilsack will engage with the Future Farmers of America in Indiana to discuss opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders. Secretary Haaland will visit New Mexico to emphasize investments in rural water infrastructure and Colorado to highlight projects funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that address abandoned mine lands in rural communities.
These visits demonstrate the Biden administration’s dedication to rural America and its commitment to investing in the well-being and prosperity of its residents.
Utah’s Potential Benefit
Though it was not explicitly mentioned during the press briefing, there is a possibility that some of the funding will find its way to Utah. The state may have the opportunity to host a senior administration official and benefit from the resources and initiatives being made available.
The significant investment by the Biden administration is a testament to their commitment to equitable development and ensuring that rural America is not left behind. By focusing on disadvantaged communities, conserving landscapes, and empowering farmers, this investment aims to create a brighter future for rural America.