Rural communities play an important role in our nation’s economy. They are home to a majority of U.S. manufacturing, farming and ranching. American agriculture provides the food and fiber for our country and the world, creating jobs for millions of Americans. Deteriorating rural infrastructure, however, threatens the competitive leadership of American agriculture. Our farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to meet domestic demands and compete globally depends on a robust and reliable infrastructure including:\
Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens U.S. agriculture’s position as a world leader and negatively impacts the ability of rural Americans to do their jobs.
Past infrastructure initiatives often focused on urban and suburban areas while not adequately addressing the unique needs of rural communities. Meanwhile, rural communities have seen their infrastructure deteriorate, jeopardizing jobs, health and wellbeing, and overall competitiveness in agriculture and other industries important to rural America.
Transportation infrastructure improvement to highways, bridges, railways, locks and dams, harbors and port facilities is the most obvious need in rural communities, but not the only need that must be addressed. In addition, critical needs exist in providing clean water and affordable housing options for rural families, expanding broadband access across rural communities, updating ag research facilities, and enhancing the ability to supply affordable, reliable and secure power for the rural economy.
Federal investment plays a vital role in repairing and expanding our nation’s infrastructure; however, federal funds cannot fully meet the vast diversity of needs. For infrastructure funding to be utilized to the highest degree, we must ease burdensome regulations and outdated statutory requirements, as well as fund projects in a way that ensures completion in a timely manner.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which AFBF supported, invests $110 billion in U.S. roads and bridges, $17.3 billion for ports and inland waterways and $65 billion for broadband with a goal to “deliver reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to every household.” We are monitoring implementation of the legislation, which also included funding for western water infrastructure and an exemption for livestock and insect haulers from Hours-of-Service regulations within a 150 air-mile radius of their final destination.
AFBF is a founding member of the Rebuild Rural Coalition. Rebuild Rural is comprised of more than 220 organizations from across the country that collectively represent U.S. agricultural producers, cooperatives, rural businesses, rural communities and rural families. The Rebuild Rural Coalition is dedicated to advocating for investment in rural America’s infrastructure and understands that rural America’s infrastructure needs are fundamentally vast.