The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan legislation supported by Farm Bureau that authorizes transportation and infrastructure spending over the next five years.
The roughly $1 trillion spending plan includes $550 billion in new spending, including on surface transportation infrastructure and broadband expansion. In addition to authorizing infrastructure spending, the bill exempts livestock and insect haulers from Hours of Service regulations within a 150 air-mile radius of their final destination, which Farm Bureau supports.
Farm Bureau applauded the Senate’s passage of the bill.
“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,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Improvements in transportation infrastructure, as well as repair and upgrades to the aging western water infrastructure, will ensure farmers can continue to keep this nation fed.”
The measure allocates $110 billion for road and bridge projects, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, and also authorizes funding for safety, public transportation, airports, ports and waterways, power and grid infrastructure, resiliency, electric and low-carbon school busses and ferries, and more. The bill also includes $65 billion for broadband expansion, one of Farm Bureau’s top priorities.
“Extending digital access to rural America is just as important as paved roads and solid bridges,” Duvall said. “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.”
The measure, developed as bipartisan compromise by a team of both Democratic and Republican senators, has the backing of President Joe Biden. But it faces an uncertain future in the Democratic-controlled House, where leaders have signaled they want infrastructure to be addressed along with a separate $3.5 trillion budget package that addresses social programs and climate change priorities.