As a lifelong Hoosier, I grew up raising beef cattle on my family’s farm in Austin and have been involved in rural communities ever since. During my 20 years of service in the Indiana House of Representatives, I have been committed to creating better opportunities for rural Indiana through educational, agricultural, and rural development initiatives, including the expansion of broadband connectivity. Under the leadership of President Biden and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, I look forward to continuing these efforts.
Last week, President Biden used his first State of the Union address to talk about where our country is and where we are headed.
The president mentioned a lot of things we can be proud of and even more to look forward to, especially in rural America.
The country has faced profound challenges over the past year, and the people of rural America know it better than anyone.
But rural communities are resilient, and as rural America’s success goes, so does the rest of the country.
That’s why the progress we’ve made in rural Indiana over the past year is a good sign for everyone. By investing in water and broadband infrastructure, rural business opportunities, and America’s food supply chain, USDA helps communities build the foundation for sustained economic growth.
For example, last week my staff attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the City of Cannelton’s $11.4 million wastewater treatment infrastructure project. With assistance from the USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, the city will replace 6,000 feet of damaged sewer lines, build a new lift station, and construct a new sewer facility. wastewater treatment that will benefit nearly 1,600 people.
A great example of how we’re helping support Indiana’s food supply chain is investing in agricultural producers and small businesses like family-owned cheesemakers Jacobs & Brichford. Farmers recently received a $247,000 value-added producer grant to expand marketing and sales of their award-winning raw milk cheese products.
Additionally, through programs such as the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, we are responding to the President’s call to create more resilient, diversified and secure supply chains. Promoting competition in the processing sector will mean fairer prices for farmers, greater value for workers, and more affordable, healthier food produced closer to home for families.
These investments create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. They help grow the economy from the bottom up and from the middle as the president said. And they contribute to a circular economy where the resources and wealth we build in rural Indiana stays right here in Indiana.
And they are just the beginning. In the State of the Union, President Biden has pledged to build a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, begin replacing toxic lead pipes, so that every child and every American has clean water to drink at home and at school, to provide high-speed Internet for all Americans – urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities.
The Biden-Harris administration’s plan for the economy is already producing historic wins, and anyone can participate, regardless of zip code.
That’s why we’re optimistic that our best days are ahead of us.
By giving everyone a fair chance and providing equitable access to federal resources, we can do our part to realize the President’s economic vision. That means making more stuff right here at home, strengthening our supply chains, and lowering costs for working families. It means giving people the opportunity to earn a good living without having to leave the communities they know and love.
For many of us, that means staying here in rural Indiana.