American Farm Bureau officials say the bipartisan infrastructure bill recently signed into law by President Biden is good for agriculture.
At the 2021 NAFB Convention in Kansas City, Farm Bureau’s Ryan Yates spoke with IARN about the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The $1.2 trillion package includes $550 billion in new funding for transportation, broadband and utilities.
“At the end of the day, Americans are a net exporter of food,” Yates said. “We produce food, feed and fiber for the world. If we can’t get our goods to market, then what are we doing? We’re looking at a state of disrepair from our interstate road system to our locks and dams, and then our waterways. Hopefully, these dollars can be deployed in a way that provides a real investment in America.”
Yates talks about the broadband funding component of the infrastructure package.
“Broadband is no longer just a luxury. It’s a necessity for business,” Yates said. “For far too long, rural America has been working at a disadvantage with minimal access to affordable, high-speed broadband. In fact, as it stands today, we’ve got 25 percent of all farmers that don’t have access to broadband at home. That’s a problem. We’re hopeful that these investments in broadband infrastructure will begin to pave a path for American competitiveness moving forward.”
Yates adds the broadband investment will benefit other sectors outside of agriculture.
“There’s a need for broadband for other things such as access to health services and access to education,” Yates said. “These are things that rural America is competing at a disadvantage to our friends in suburban and urban America.”
The White House calls the legislation “a once-in-a-generation investment in our Nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.” The package focuses on the needs of rural America through broadband, ports and waterways, as well as roads and bridge projects.