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Ag celebrates bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by Biden

Those in agriculture welcome investment in infrastructure to help keep U.S. agriculture competitive.

Jacqui Fatka

November 15, 2021

4 Min Read
Infrastructure signing GettyImages-1353481475.jpg.png
MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE WIN: President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as he is surrounded by lawmakers and members of his Cabinet during a ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House on November 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The $1.2 trillion package will provide funds for public infrastructure projects including improvements to the country’s transportation networks, increasing rural broadband access, and projects to modernizing water and energy systems.Alex Wong/Getty Images

Flanked by members who helped broker the historic infrastructure investment, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment on Monday, including over $550 billion in new spending. In attendance for the bipartisan signing ceremony were approximately 800 guests including members of Congress, governors, mayors, state and local elected officials, labor leaders, business leaders and other stakeholders.

“Too often in Washington – the reason we don’t get things done is because we insist on getting everything we want. With this law, we focused on getting things done,” Biden shares in the event held on the South Lawn of the White House.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act adds $559 billion to the federal government’s average annual investment of $650 billion. For those in rural America, the bill offers $17 billion for ports and waterways, $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail and $65 billion for broadband infrastructure.

It also provides provisions to boost ag supply chain resiliency and create a new pilot program to help address the nationwide truck driver shortage. The infrastructure bill also offers relief for livestock haulers as provisions of Sen. Deb Fischer's, R-Neb., HAULS Act were included within the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Livestock haulers are now granted 150 air-miles radius from the origin and destination of their trip. This effectively allows livestock haulers to travel an additional 300 miles while exempt from the restrictive hours-of-service regulations.

On August 10, the Senate passed H.R. 3684 with strong bipartisan support – 69 senators supported passaged. Last Friday night, the House of Representatives took up the Senate-passed bill and advanced it in a bipartisan vote of 228-206.

Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade says the signing marks a turning point for U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness. 

“This is an historic investment in America’s agriculture infrastructure. While American agriculture depends on trade, trade depends on infrastructure. For too long we have seen our competitive advantage in infrastructure slip,” Kuehl says. “This package invests in America’s highways, waterways, ports, locks, and dams in a way that will help us reassert American agriculture competitiveness. It will allow more ag product to get to market quicker and more efficiently. It will also help our infrastructure keep pace with ag production; something that is essential at a time when supply chains are being severely challenged. This investment will also create jobs in rural America where they are urgently needed.”

National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule says, “Wheat growers recognize the important role investments in our nation’s infrastructure play in getting our product to market. NAWG recognizes the hard work and commitment to bipartisanship that led to this bill becoming law. This once-in-a-generation commitment to infrastructure will aid in wheat growers’ competitiveness on a global stage and make critical investments in rural America.

“Since the process began, NAWG has outlined its priorities to Congressional leaders, and called for investments in physical infrastructure that the ag community relies on and was negotiated in a bipartisan manner. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act achieved both of those goals,” Goule adds.

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel attended the White House ceremony after working with the administration and bipartisan Congressional leaders to pass the comprehensive infrastructure bill. “The new law will provide critical improvements to support the fresh produce supply chain, including roads, bridges, ports and vitally needed western state water infrastructure investment,” Stenzel says.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes more than $8 billion for projects that will enhance water supply reliability across the West, including repairing aging dams and canals, building new surface and groundwater storage and conveyance facilities, funding water conservation and recycling projects and improving watershed and ecosystem management.

“This is a great victory for Western water users. The Western water provisions included in this legislation represent a once-in-a-generation federal investment that will bolster our aging water infrastructure and keep water flowing to our nation’s farms and ranches. It will also improve our ability to provide water supply reliability for cities and the environment in future droughts,” says Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen.

Earlier in the day the president signed an executive order outlining the administration’s implementation priorities and establishing an Infrastructure Implementation Task Force to coordinate the law’s effective implementation. The order identifies main priorities to guide implementation including requirements to buy American, build resilient infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change and invest public dollars equitably as well as efficiently to avoid waste.

The Task Force is co-chaired by National Economic Council Director, Brian Deese, and the White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator, Mitch Landrieu. Other cabinet members, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, will also sit on the task force.
 

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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