Rural infrastructure projects across the country will receive a combined $5.2 billion in federal grants and loans to expand access to high-speed internet, electricity, and clean water, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.
The $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress over the weekend will upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and ports while making high-speed internet available through the nation, said President Biden. An estimated one-third of rural households lack access to the internet at what the White House described as minimally acceptable speeds.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the USDA would spend up to $1.15 billion to bring high-speed internet services to people living in rural communities. The money would be available in loans and grants to providers who offer service with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second in areas that lack high-speed internet.
The White House is currently vetting possible nominees for key sub-cabinet positions at the USDA, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a teleconference on Thursday. "I suspect we will be seeing nominees soon on some of those vacancies."
Three months ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would commit $500 million to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and create a more competitive livestock market. "I believe it is going to leverage literally billions of dollars in investment from investors and local governments," said Vilsack at a meat locker plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Projects in 12 states will receive a combined $167 million in USDA grants and loans to deploy broadband infrastructure in parts of rural America lacking sufficient access to high-speed internet service, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.
President Biden said the $1.2-trillion infrastructure package negotiated with senators on Wednesday will "deliver high-speed internet to every American home" as well as repairing or rebuilding roads and bridges nationwide.
The Biden administration could "impose a significant financial burden" on farm families with its proposal for stricter application of capital gains taxes, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott on Wednesday. Scott also said any increase in estate taxes "for those taking over farmland is untenable."
Thirty Democrats in the House and Senate, in a letter to congressional leaders working on broad-scale climate and infrastructure legislation, called for "a substantial investment in farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the climate solution."