Friday, September 29, 2023

Groups Hail Passage of Infrastructure Bill as a Win for the Ag Industry

by Colter Brown

Late Friday night, the House passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the Senate in mid-August and now goes to President Biden for his signature.

The bill passed 228 to 206 with 13 Republicans joining 215 Democrats to pass the bill. Six Democrats joined 200 Republicans to oppose the bill. The Senate had already passed the infrastructure bill with a bipartisan 69-30 vote back in August, and the House made no changes to the bill written by the Senate.

The bill will provide one of the largest increases in investment in roads, bridges, waterways and electric infrastructure in history.

The final vote on the infrastructure bill came after a day of negotiations among Democrats in Congress and the president. The agreement to shore up Democratic votes for the infrastructure bill also allowed the president’s $1.75 trillion social spending package to advance in the House as well, though not yet to a final vote.

After the vote, the House moved on to procedural measures related to the Build Back Better Act, with both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Biden promising the House would pass it after both the House and the Senate are out for Veterans Day week.

Several agriculture producer organizations praised the passage of the infrastructure bill. NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera issued the following statement:

“The infrastructure package includes several key provisions that NCBA has long advocated for, including funding for the modernization of roads and bridges, funding for high-speed rural broadband, congressional commitment to the improvement of the federal permitting process for critical water-related investments and an additional 150 air-mile exemption for livestock haulers on the destination of hauls, providing much needed flexibility under current hours-of-service regulations.

“Investing in critical infrastructure is consistent with NCBA’s mission to increase producer profitability. The ability for cattle producers to efficiently raise cattle, haul them safely and compete in a fast-paced global marketplace has a direct link to the economic stability of rural communities and a resilient food supply chain. We look forward to the president signing the bill and stand ready to ensure proper implementation.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented  on the bipartisan infrastructure package saying, “While AFBF was disappointed with the unnecessary delays in the House of Representatives, we appreciate Congress finally passing crucial bipartisan infrastructure legislation. 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. 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.”

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew issued the following statement: “The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a momentous achievement in boosting our rural communities and the economy as a whole. The bill strengthens our food supply chain as it makes tremendous, much-needed investments in the roads, bridges, dams, and waterways that family farmers and ranchers depend on. The bill also updates hours-of-service regulations for agriculture and livestock haulers, which will keep our crops, inputs, and livestock moving.”




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Shilo Messerly

What is 150 miles for a truck driver?


Trucks hauling agricultural products currently are exempt from HOS for first 150 air miles from the origin of the load. This would expand the raduis to 300 air miles.

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