Mike Scully harvests soybeans at Scully Family Farms in Spencer, Indiana, on Sept. 29, 2022. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service photo by Brandon O’Connor)
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and administration officials are kicking off an “Investing in Rural America” event series, starting with a visit to a Minnesota farm Wednesday to announce nearly $5 billion for conservation, economic development and “climate smart” agriculture.
Biden, who is running for reelection in 2024, has been highlighting what the administration calls “Bidenomics” for months as the presidential campaign season escalates. However, polling has found many Americans continue to be pessimistic about the economy, despite the upbeat message from the White House.
Cabinet secretaries and senior administration officials will be “barnstorming across the country” for the next two weeks, according to the White House. Visits will include stops in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In addition to the agriculture dollars, the administration will highlight hundreds of millions for high-speed internet and renewable energy in rural areas.
The programs are funded by a combination of dollars earmarked under 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and American Rescue Plan of 2021, laws that Biden points to as milestones of his administration.
“This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the importance of rural America and to reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s deep commitment to investment into improving life and opportunity in rural places,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, told reporters on a press call Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will distribute the funds across several program areas, including:
- $2 billion across 99 rural economic development projects in nine states and Puerto Rico
- $1.7 billion for climate change mitigation and 81 conservation projects
- $1.1 billion in just over 100 loans and grants for infrastructure upgrades
- $274 million for high-speed internet
- $145 million for renewable energy in rural communities.
Biden and Vilsack will deliver afternoon remarks at Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield, Minnesota, where the family-run operation grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs.
Dutch Creek’s owners have “used several climate-smart agriculture techniques to make their farm more sustainable, including growing crops that naturally sequester carbon and improve soil quality, farming in a way that limits soil disturbance, and creating riparian buffers to protect nearby waterways from pollutants,” according to the White House.
Biden is scheduled to participate in an evening campaign reception in Minneapolis, according to the White House schedule.
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