Infrastructure package makes its way through Congress
American farmers and agribusinesses are positioned to be more competitive in the global economy with the U.S. Senate’s Aug. 10 passage of President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The nearly $1 trillion plan is intended to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public works systems and expand broadband internet, among other improvements. The Senate also is considering a second $3.5 trillion package that would pay for new family, health and education programs. The White House anticipates the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year within the coming decade.
The House will eventually consider both packages simultaneously. While American Farm Bureau Federation supports the first part of the plan, it does not endorse the second one.
The first phase of the bill would invest $110 billion in U.S. roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband and $17.3 billion for ports and inland waterways. Section 23018 of the bill includes an exemption for livestock and insect haulers from Hours of Service Regulations within a 150 air-mile radius from their final destination—a small but particularly helpful change for Virginia livestock producers, said Ben Rowe, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s national affairs coordinator.
“We were pleased to see the Senate develop a comprehensive infrastructure package while preserving important tax provisions that make it possible for farmers to pass the family business to the next generation,” he said. “We urge leaders in the House to follow the Senate’s lead by leaving tax rates and stepped-up basis unchanged.”
AFBF President Zippy Duvall expressed gratitude to the Senate for working toward solutions while preserving those tax provisions.
He said the pressing infrastructure issues facing the nation are too important to ignore, particularly in rural communities where modernization is desperately needed.
“Farmers and ranchers depend on millions of miles of roadways and waterways to get their products to America’s dinner tables, and they rely on ports to ship food, fiber and fuel to countries around the world,” Duvall said. “And increased funding to bring broadband to hundreds of thousands of farms that currently have no access to the internet will help farmers meet the demands of a growing world while using emerging technologies to build on climate-smart practices.”