An investment by the Biden administration will deliver $5 billion to rural America, including bolstering disadvantaged, impoverished communities, conserving landscapes and helping out farmers.
The announcement was made by President Joe Biden as he visited a farm in Minnesota Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack detailed some of the spending breakdown:
- $1.7 billion aimed at landscape-scale conservation in 35 states.
- $145 million for renewable energy projects that include 697 businesses and farms in rural America in 44 states.
- $2 billion to help 36 disadvantaged communities across America and in Puerto Rico.
“I think it is reflective of President Biden’s belief that your ZIP code ought not to dictate your future,” Vilsack said. “President Biden is very cognizant of the fact that equity needs to be at the center of what we do, in all we do.”
The investments also include money directed toward increasing internet access.
“We’re getting funding to these rural communities because no kid should have to sit in the back of their mom’s car in order to get their homework done,” said Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to Biden and White House infrastructure implementation coordinator.
Landrieu emphasized the boosted internet access will help insure people can access health care through telehealth options, farmers can engage in precision agriculture and help connect people to education and economic opportunities.
“No one should have to move away to find these economic opportunities,” he emphasized.
A few ways the money will be targeted is to help a Native American tribe in Oklahoma build a fiber network to connect 6,000 residents to high speed internet, as well as hundreds of farms.
In Missouri, a rural electric cooperative will receive money for a fiber network to connect 2,500 people, 78 businesses, 76 farms and six schools.
The internet, too, will be affordable, he added.
“We know a connection does not mean much if you can’t afford it,” Landrieu said.
Neera Tanden, assistant to Biden and his domestic policy adviser, said the money to boost quality of living in rural America is about leaving no one behind and keeping people in their hometowns if they choose to remain.
“The next generation does not have to leave the family farm to have real opportunity,” she said.
Beyond the announcement, the rollout of the billions of dollars includes an ambitious schedule of top cabinet officials and others visiting multiple states across the country.
Vilsack will travel to Indiana to speak with Future Farmers of America about opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders, as well as to Wyoming and Colorado.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will travel to New Mexico to highlight rural water infrastructure investments from the Biden-Harris administration and Colorado to highlight Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funded projects to remediate abandoned mine lands in rural communities.
In addition, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough will travel to Iowa to highlight how the Biden-Harris administration is supporting the country’s veterans who live in rural communities by ensuring they have access to quality medical care. Multiple other officials will be visiting states that include New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Stephen Benjamin, senior adviser to Biden and director of the Office of Public Engagement, said the visits are intended to underscore the important investment being made.
“Over the course of the next two weeks, President Biden’s cabinet members, secretaries and senior administration officials will barnstorm the country to highlight Bidenomics and the president investing in the America agenda ensuring rural Americans do not have to leave their hometowns to find opportunities,” Benjamin said.
It was unclear in the press briefing if any of that money will find its way to Utah, or if the state will get the opportunity to host a senior administration official.