House Approves Infrastructure Plan to Spur Growth in Rural America

The House of Representatives recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), which includes several provisions designed to boost the resiliency of farms, ranches and rural communities.

The Farm Bureau-supported bill touts $500 billion in new spending over the next five years, including $110 billion in U.S. roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband, and $17.3 billion for ports and inland waterways. Pennsylvania, specifically, is expected to receive $11.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $1.6 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years. Pennsylvania will also receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.

“While AFBF was disappointed with the unnecessary delays in the House of Representatives, we appreciate Congress finally passing crucial bipartisan infrastructure legislation,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement. “We cannot afford to ignore the millions of miles of roadways, waterways and railways rural America relies on to keep our country fed, especially as we see widespread supply chain challenges.”

“Extending broadband to rural communities is just as much a priority,” Duvall continued. “A quarter of America’s farm families have no high-speed internet access while working to meet the needs of a growing world. Investments in physical infrastructure like broadband will be critical to bridging the digital divide.”

Sec. 23018 of the bill also includes an exemption for livestock and insect haulers from Hours of Service regulations within a 150 air-mile radius from their final destination.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes significant investments in western water infrastructure that is necessary to ensure future production opportunities for members being negatively impacted by prolonged drought conditions. In addition, the bill pledges funding to passenger and freight rail, public transit, airports, power and grid, and low-carbon and zero-emission school buses and ferries.

“Bipartisan efforts such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provide commonsense solutions to our nation’s infrastructure challenges, and we look forward to seeing the bill signed into law,” Duvall said.

The House approved the legislation by a vote of 228-206. Pennsylvania Representatives cast their votes along party lines with one exception. Republican Brian Fitzpatrick joined Pennsylvania Democrats in voting for the bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 69-30 in August. The package now heads to the president’s desk for signature into law.

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