Tom Perriello | Fifth District Report
Rural areas face unique challenges in this worsening economic crisis, and my job as representative is to make sure those needs are heard. That’s why I was pleased to join with 40 bipartisan members of the Congressional Rural Caucus in calling for President Obama to establish an Office of Rural Policy. Our letter was in response to the recent announcement by the president that he intends to create a White House Office of Urban Policy. A complementary Office of Rural Policy would be an effective way to make sure rural areas have a seat at the table when it comes to national policy. I was pleased to join with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who understand what rural America needs and what it has to offer to the rest of the country.
I also worked with my Republican and Democratic colleagues representing rural areas to right for provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that focus on key priorities for rural America, for example, deploying broadband to connect rural communities to more economic opportunities and better health care and education, spurring the development of American renewable energy including biofuels and wind, strengthening small businesses, and rebuilding rural America’s highways, waterways, and housing. In fact, the American Farm Bureau Federation has said these provisions will help the agriculture industry and all Americans through the economic recovery period.
Expanding Broadband and Wireless Services: The Recovery Act provides $7.2 billion for extending broadband and wireless services to underserved communities across the country, and $2.5 billion of this amount is allocated to the Rural Utilities Service, which could use it to benefit 7,185 rural communities, 3.4 million residents and businesses, and potentially create 113,000 new jobs. For every dollar invested in broadband, the economy sees a ten-fold return, which makes it critical to get some of these investments for Southside Virginia.
Advancing America’s New Energy Economy and Reducing Our Dependence on Foreign Oil: The Recovery Act will put a serious downpayment on a smart electric grid for our nation, which will allow our farms to sell their own energy back to the grid in the future.
Creating Small Business Opportunities in Rural Communities: The Recovery Act guarantees nearly $3 billion in loans for rural businesses at a time of unprecedented demand due to the credit crunch. Supporting Farmers: The Recovery Act provides $50 million for critical IT improvements to systems to process commodity and conservation payments as well as tracking payment and program eligibility, so that the country’s 2 million farmers and ranchers can receive the payments they rely on in a timely way. It also provides $173 million in direct loans to help farmers and ranchers facing dropping commodity prices and increased input costs. These funds will help them to purchase seed to plant in the spring and buy feed for their livestock.
Supporting Local Law Enforcement: Making sure rural communities have adequate resources to protect public safety is of critical importance. That’s why I was proud to announce more than $1 million in Justice Assistance Grants for Fifth District localities, including: Bedford City $13,445; Bedford County $44,393; Brunswick County $15,474; Buckingham County $13,191; Campbell County $55,554; Charlotte County $15,981; Cumberland County $12,176; Fluvanna County $18,772; Franklin County $28,158; Greene County $18,264; Halifax County $13,698; Henry County $126,329; Martinsville City $38,558; Mecklenburg County $38,304; Nelson County $10,147; Pittsylvania County $45,407; Town of South Boston $30,948; Town of South Hill $19,786.
Investing in Rural Infrastructure: Nearly $14.5 million will be targeted specifically to highway construction in rural communities in Virginia. Additionally, millions will be invested to strengthen the safety and cleanliness of our nation’s water systems and to ensure that about 3.4 million rural households have new or improved service.
Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; call 202.225.4711; or visit www.perriello.house.gov.
– Tom Perriello represents the Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.