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Farm Groups ask Biden to Include
Rural Investments in Infrastructure Plan

by Sierra Dawn McClain
Capital Press, March 15, 2021

Wind turbines line a ridge in a wheat field north of Helix, Ore. A Colorado company proposes to put up to 244 turbines on farmland to the north in Benton County, Wash. WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After signing the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package into law Friday, President Joe Biden is preparing for his next major legislative push: a colossal infrastructure package.

The proposal is expected to include investments in crumbling bridges, buildings, roads, broadband infrastructure, energy grids, schools, public transportation, manufacturing and innovation sectors and "green" energy projects.

As the president and Democratic lawmakers prepare to lay out the "Build Back Better" infrastructure plan in the coming weeks, rural and farm groups across the nation have sent letters to Congress and the White House asking that rural needs be considered in the plan.

One recent letter, written by Rebuild Rural Coalition, urged Biden not to forget rural areas when designing the infrastructure plan.

"As you are aware, past infrastructure initiatives often focused on urban and suburban infrastructure, while not adequately addressing the unique needs of rural communities," the letter stated.

The coalition includes more than 250 farm and rural groups nationwide, including the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington State Potato Commission, Oregon Farm Bureau Federation and Idaho Grain Producers Association.

The coalition wrote that the nation's crumbling infrastructure "jeopardizes jobs, our agricultural competitiveness and the health of rural communities."

In Congress, the proposal is controversial.

In recent committee meetings, many Republicans have said they are broadly supportive of infrastructure legislation, but they oppose some of Biden's specific climate proposals under the plan and are concerned about the high cost of the infrastructure package, which would be largely financed with debt and could increase the corporate tax rate.

"It is going to be green and it is going to be big," Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told The Associated Press, speaking of the upcoming infrastructure plan.

DeFazio is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Democrats passed the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without Republican support, but that may prove difficult to do with the infrastructure package, because some moderate Democrats are urging a bipartisan deal.

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for example, has publicly stated he will block infrastructure legislation if Republicans aren't included.

Policy experts anticipate the "Build Back Better" plan will be introduced in April or May.

Sierra Dawn McClain
Farm Groups ask Biden to Include Rural Investments in Infrastructure Plan
Capital Press, March 15, 2021

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