After serving 25 years on the Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners and eight years as State Director of Rural Development under President Obama, my passion for learning about and representing the needs of rural communities continues to grow. Armed with this knowledge and motivation, I look forward to helping rebuild a better rural America under the leadership of President Biden.
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 the success of rural America goes, so does the rest of the country.
That’s why the progress we’ve made in rural Minnesota 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, the city of Freeport is working to improve water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure with the help of a $2.7 million loan through the USDA. Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. These efforts will reduce health and safety issues caused by seepage and improve water quality for 632 community members.
A great example of how we’re helping support Minnesota’s food supply chain is investing in agricultural producers and small businesses like the Minnesota Family Farms Cooperative. La Coop recently received $18,700 Grant to value-added producers to increase sales of their pork products.
In addition, through programs like 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, diverse 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 Minnesota stays right here in Minnesota.
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 affordable high-speed Internet service for every American; 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 Minnesota.
Colleen Landkamer is the Minnesota State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture.