Trump releases infrastructure plan, focuses on rural America

By Justin Walker

President Donald J. Trump released his infrastructure plan this week, highlighting the need to invest in rural America.

The proposed plan Trump has announced, “Building a Stronger America,” is designed to restore deteriorating infrastructure and protect agriculture’s place as a world leader in production.

“President Trump’s ‘Building a Stronger America’ plan promises to bring long overdue improvements to the country roads, bridges and broader infrastructure that farmers and ranchers depend on to reach customers at home and abroad,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall said. “While past infrastructure plans have left rural America in the dust, this administration has not forgotten the rural communities that form the backbone of our nation.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the plan, noting Trump has been devoted to improving rural areas since taking office.

“No area of the country needs investment in infrastructure more than rural America,” Perdue said. “With a quarter of the new federal money heading to rural parts of the country, states will have the ability to expand broadband access, increase connectivity, rebuild roads and supply affordable utilities.”

Trump’s agenda plans to create $1.5 trillion in repairs and upgrades to rural infrastructure. Federal spending will account for $250 billion of the proposed funding.

States have accepted more responsibility in previous years when it comes to infrastructure funding, and the Trump administration would like to continue moving in that direction.

While states will be expected to produce 80 percent of funds for all projects, Perdue noted that states will have the flexibility to choose which projects best meet their needs.

Laramie Adams, national legislative director for Texas Farm Bureau, said that while the projects in Texas have yet to be identified, no one knows what needs to be done in rural areas more than farmers and ranchers.

“There is a serious need in Texas for a revamp of our roadways and bridges, especially some of these older county roads that often times get forgotten,” Adams said. “Farmers and ranchers rely on roads and bridges daily to get their products from one place to another. Investing resources in infrastructure will help meet the critical need of providing proper upkeep of our nation’s transportation systems.”

Local government entities would receive incentives as part of the plan, accounting for $100 billion of the proposed federal spending and $20 billion would be allocated for projects of national significance, such as the Gateway tunnel under the Hudson River in New York.

An additional $50 billion would be divided out to states for rural block grants, with each state’s earnings based on the miles of rural roads and the rural population they have. The remaining amount would support other infrastructure-related projects.

“In the past infrastructure plans that we’ve seen from previous administrations, rural America has a lot of times been forgotten,” Adams said. “Seeing what the Trump administration has done in this infrastructure plan, giving the states and local governments the power to invest those funds where they need to go is absolutely applauded by the agricultural industry.”

Trump reinforced his commitment to American farmers and ranchers earlier this year at AFBF’s 2018 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show, where he signed two executive orders funding the expansion of rural broadband access.

“In my travels across the country, I have heard from the people in the Heartland,” Perdue said. “And the overwhelming view is that this is just the type of investment they are looking for to help create jobs, improve education, improve the quality of life and increase overall prosperity.”

Duvall believes this plan represents the spirit of American farmers and ranchers and would serve them well moving forward.

“Farmers and ranchers know the pride of ownership and a hard day’s work, and the president’s infrastructure plan rewards those values,” Duvall said. “With less bureaucratic red tape and more local ownership, we’re confident this plan gives rural America the tools to drive our economy forward.”

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