January 2022 - 43

Infrastructure Bill throws bipartisanship a lifeline
The Infrastructure
NATIONAL
POTATO
COUNCIL
Kam Quarles
Chief Executive
Officer
Bill has been signed
into law, providing
$550 billion in new
spending on physical
infrastructure over
the next five years. It
also extends existing
transportation
programs, bringing
the total projected
spending over 10
years to $1.2 trillion.
On the day of the
bill signing in the White House Rose Garden,
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack joked in a
tweet that with President Biden's signature,
" Infrastructure Week " had finally ended.
This was ironic as " Infrastructure Week " had
been promoted and attempted in fits and
starts by numerous presidents and sessions
of Congress. Even so, the bill signing
highlighted the fact that the best way to pass
anything as comprehensive and expensive as
the " Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act "
is to engage a wide range of players from
both ends of the political spectrum.
The way the Infrastructure Bill was passed
in bipartisan fashion also underlines the
philosophy of the National Potato Council
(NPC) that we, as an industry - and as a
country - are at our best when we set aside
our political differences to develop real and
tangible policy results for our citizens.
After repeated attempts over the years,
this legislation was finally brought over the
finish line with the broad support of the
agriculture industry because it delivered
long-term federal aid for a number of longheld
priorities. Those investments touch
areas vital to stakeholders throughout
modern agriculture: the bolstering of our
roads and bridges; the enhancement of rural
broadband; and the funding of ports and
inland waterways.
The bill's cornerstone is its much needed
(and long overdue) investment in U.S. roads
and bridges. With $110 billion slated in long
term funding, the potato industry will benefit
from improvements of millions of miles of
roads, highways, and bridges - investments
that are essential to getting food grown,
harvested, transported, and delivered to
dinner tables throughout America and to
Spudman * January 2022
41
consumers overseas. Not only will this
funding help increase companies' bottom
lines by making it more efficient to transport
goods, it will boost the U.S. potato industry's
competitiveness as a whole compared to our
international rivals.
In the area of rural broadband, the
bill's $65 billion in funding will help close
internet service gaps throughout the
nation, but particularly in underserved rural
communities. Anyone involved in modern ag
knows that broadband access is essential
to growers focused on maximizing yield,
liming costs, and lowering environmental
impacts. Unfortunately, due to service gaps,
many rural communities are significantly
under-serviced - leaving farm families
and farming operations behind their
fellow citizens and competing businesses.
The investment in the Infrastructure Bill
will help those communities catch up
through enhanced broadband connectivity,
providing growers access to the latest yield
maximizing farming techniques.
Finally, the bill provides $17 billion in
port infrastructure and waterway funding.
With one out of every six rows of U.S.
potatoes destined for foreign consumers, the
importance of our ports and waterways to the
short- and long-term health of our industry
cannot be overstated. The supply chain
troubles starting at our ports and emanating
throughout the country may be today's frontpage
news, but the challenges of shipping
potato products through aging ports are
nothing new to our industry members. With
the upgraded capabilities of our ports, we
hope to further expand the international
footprint of the U.S. potato industry.
NPC has long advocated for a reliable
and competitive intermodal network of
roads, bridges, port facilities, ocean
shipping, and railroad capacity to improve
the production and movement of crops
from field to market.
Not only does the recently signed
Infrastructure Bill help address some of
these long-standing issues, it shows that
even in an age of fierce partisanship we can
still find commonsense solutions to improve
the lives and livelihoods of growers and
citizens alike.

January 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2022

January 2022 - 1
January 2022 - 2
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