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Rural issues at the forefront of House Ag Hearing

A half dozen witnesses from the Rebuild Rural coalition (made up of 200 groups) testified before the House Ag Committee this week saying big investments are needed in rural America to turn it around.

Richard Calhoun with the National Grain and Feed Association says inland waterway improvements are desperately needed because they help move more than 90 percent of grain and oilseed exports to ports on the coasts. He told lawmakers US spending on transportation infrastructure lags behind any point since World War II while foreign competitors are spending more each year on their infrastructure, “We used to be able to ship soybeans to China for nearly $80 a metric ton cheaper than Brazil. Today, they’ve narrowed the transportation gap by about 75% to just $20 a metric ton.”

A member of the National Rural Broadband Association testified that nearly 40 percent of rural areas don’t have access to broadband – and the negative impacts include lower levels of unemployment and poverty, and lack of access to telemedicine and precision agriculture tools.

And, a member of the National Rural Water Association says the big backlog in the USDA loan and grant program is delaying infrastructure improvements for clean water and wastewater in rural America.

 

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