NORTHFIELD, Minn. — At a family farm in southern Minnesota, President Joe Biden announced another $5 billion to help the rural economy and protect farms like that of Brad Kluver.
“For decades, families like Brad’s sat around the kitchen table with their kids and grandkids worried and wondering, ‘How, how can we keep the farm in the family?’” Biden said on Wednesday, Nov. 1. “Because of these investments we’re making, family farms like this one will stay in the family and the children and grandchildren like Brad won’t have to leave home to make a living.”
Biden flew into the Twin Cities airport and traveled to Dutch Creek Farms near Northfield, Minnesota, where Kluver and his family raise corn, soybeans and hogs.
Much of the investment announced Wednesday will create programs and incentives for conservation and climate-smart agriculture.
In his introduction of Biden, Kluver said:
“He has incentivized family farms like ours, to innovate and adapt the way we farm to be more efficient and environmentally friendly while also expanding markets.”
Among the details behind Biden’s announcement were:
- $1.7 billion for
through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- $1.1 billion for rural infrastructure through 104 loan and grant awards for things such as water and electrical systems.
- $2 billion to support rural-led economic development, through 99 economic development projects in USDA’s
in nine states and Puerto Rico.
- $274 million for rural high-speed internet, most of it through USDA’s
- $145 Million to expand access to renewable energy and lower energy costs through loans and grants from the
In a call with reporters before the visit, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described Kluver’s Dutch Creek Farm as a “family farm operation that has taken full advantage of a broad array of environmental efforts at USDA.”
That would include growing crops that naturally sequester carbon and improve soil quality, limiting tillage, and creating vegetative buffers to protect nearby waterways from pollutants.
Vilsack said there is a “hunger” for help in conservation practices from U.S. farmers.
“It’s reflected in the fact that when we put out the $850 million for fiscal year ‘23 that just ended, we actually got over $2 billion of requests from farms and ranches across the United States,” he said.
Biden also used Kluver’s plight during the COVID pandemic trying to use social media to sell hogs when packing plants shut down, as a way to highlight the need for more competition in the meat industry.
“Just four big corporations control more than half the market and beef, pork and poultry. Because so few companies control so much in the market. If one of those processing plants goes offline, it can cause massive supply chain disruptions, slowing production and cost farmers big,” Biden said.
He said his administration has invested $1 billion to help small, medium and independent meat processors.
He said his plan is to help bring up all of rural America.
“Now we’re growing an economy from the middle out and the bottom up instead of the top down,” he said. “When the middle class does well, the poor have a way up, and the wealthy still do very well.
“When rural America does well when, when Indian country does well, we all do well.”
Funded conservation projects
Of the $1.7 billion for ag land conservation, $1 billion is being invested through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Projects in the upper Midwest include:
The Advancing Soil Health in Minnesota Agriculture project will provide financial assistance to producers for on-the-ground soil health management practices and systems. Through this project the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil resource will focus on erosion that leads to sediment deposits. The goal is to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff into the watershed. $25 million.
The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will restore 10,000 acres of grassland and protect approximately 8,000 acres with conservation easements in a 40-county area of western and southern Iowa. $23 million.
The North Dakota/Minnesota Supply Chain Soil Health Partnership project will work with producers to increase adoption of climate-smart and soil health practices and systems, particularly cover crops. $20 million.
Through land rental and management contracts with producers the South Dakota Grasslands Initiative will aid in the transition from cropland to grassland. Ducks Unlimited and other project partners expect to restore 25,000 acres of grassland over five years in South Dakota. $25 million.
The Agropur Dairy Producers Best Management Practices project will incentivize the implementation of best management practices at farms across the central U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
. South Dakota is listed as the lead state. Nearly $10 million.
The Making Sure Every Acre Counts project from South Dakota State University will use land rental and management contracts to install cover crops on marginal portions of cropland. $8 million.
The Protect Rathbun Lake project’s goal is to reduce the sediment and sediment-bound phosphorus loads that cause water quality impairments in Rathbun Lake in southern Iowa. $8.7 million.
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