Some groups support the bill while others feel it omits some sectors
By Diego Flammini
The U.S. Senate passing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill has brought mixed reactions from members of the ag sector.
The bill passed in the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 69-30, which included 19 Republican senators supporting the legislation. It provides funding for roads, bridges, rail transit, broadband and other infrastructure projects.
The bill still needs to pass in the House of Representatives before President Biden puts his signature on it.
Multiple ag industry groups support Senate bill’s passage.
This important funding will help improve the infrastructure farmers rely on to get their products to market.
These investments include $17.3 billion for ports and inland waterways and $65 billion for broadband access with $2 billion specifically set aside for rural broadband.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in America’s infrastructure, and we are extremely pleased that it includes funding for priorities that are important to farmers and rural America,” John Linder, presidrnt of the National Corn Growers Association, said in a statement. “Whether it’s shipping corn and corn products on America’s highways and waterways or using technology to order supplies or sell crops, farmers rely on a safe, stable and reliable national infrastructure. “Corn growers need these investments in infrastructure to continue to be successful and competitive globally.”
Dave Milligan, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, echoed Linder’s comments.
“Prioritizing investments in infrastructure will enhance wheat growers’ competitiveness in the international market,” he said in a press release. “Additionally, continuing to build out rural broadband infrastructure provides immeasurable benefit to growers and ensures rural America is not left behind.”
Some groups, however, aren’t as pleased with the infrastructure spending as others.
The bill includes $7.5 billion for an electric vehicle charger network but did not mention increasing access to higher blends of biofuels.
Biofuels are important in reducing climate emissions and should’ve been part of the spending plan, said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
“Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel made here in Iowa are reducing carbon emissions by roughly 50 percent or more today,” he said in a statement. “And unlike (electric vehicles), biofuels are on the path to being carbon negative in less than a decade. Coastal elites should embrace multiple solutions to our environmental challenges instead of DC-based ‘one size fits all’ approach. This was a huge missed opportunity to expand consumer access to a low-cost, low-carbon fuel for the vehicles actually on the roads today.”