Ag groups have mixed reactions to Senate passage of the infrastructure bill


Ag groups have mixed reactions to Senate passage of the infrastructure bill

Ag groups have mixed reactions to the $1 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure bill.

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the long-term investment in infrastructure would benefit rural America by delivering broadband to homes, communities, and businesses and upgrading roads and bridges.

He says the bill would build resilience to climate change and help farmers impacted by intensifying drought and make water infrastructure more resilient.

Allison Rivera, executive director of government affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the bipartisan bill is a step in the right direction.

“In this package we were able to secure some flexibility in hours-of-service for livestock haulers that we’ve been working for the last five years. It’s a piece from the HAULS act. It’s the backend, 150 air-mile exemption for livestock haulers,” she says. “…That adds 172 road miles to the end of hauls outside of your daily hours of service. It’s that flexibility piece we’ve continued to ask for. It’s not quite across the finish line, but we’re pleased to see that language in there.”

Todd Van Hoose is the president and CEO of Farm Credit Council.

“This is a great step forward,” he says. “Now we just need the House to act soon to get this thing across the finish line.”

He tells Brownfield the bill covers a lot of what farmers and rural communities need.

“Especially this broadband investment that’s going to connect more rural communities,” he says. “And, then we’re seeing a lot of money going to rural water systems to improve safe drinking water and adequate wastewater systems, and then the big one in my view, the improvement of the ag transportation network.”

Van Hoose is hopeful Congress can still support expanding access to biofuels, which was not a part of the infrastructure bill.

Not every agricultural group is pleased with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s Cassidy Walter says “it’s definitely a disappointment and a huge missed opportunity to further our carbon reduction goals by supporting biofuels.”

Walter tells Brownfield the bill’s focus on electric vehicles is hurting the environment, Midwest economy, and farmers.

“The bill is really tunnel-visioned on supporting electric vehicles or EV’s if you will,” she says. “There’s seven-point-five billion dollars in the bill for supporting an electric vehicle charger network and nothing for biofuels.”

National Corn Growers Association President John Linder says the group is pleased $17.3 billion was included for ports and inland waterways as 60 percent of corn exports utilize them. He says farmers rely on the nation’s infrastructure and corn growers need the investments to continue to be competitive globally.

National Association of Wheat Growers President Dave Milligan says the ag community relies on a functioning infrastructure network to transport their goods from farm to consumer both domestically and overseas. The Michigan native says prioritizing investments in infrastructure will enhance wheat growers’ competitiveness in the international market.

The bill was passed on a 69-30 vote and will now go to the House for consideration.