Infrastructure legislation moves through Senate

The United States Senate, after months of across-the-aisle negotiations, voted to pass the bipartisan infrastructure package (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 69-30 on Aug. 10. The measure has been a key priority for numerous agricultural organizations, including the American Soybean Association (ASA).

“ASA and its farmer leaders are very supportive of this bipartisan legislation, which makes historic investments across all aspects of our nation’s infrastructure, including roads and bridges, waterways and railroads. Throughout this Congress, ASA has engaged with lawmakers to express how important these investments in critical infrastructure are to farmers,” said Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from South Dakota. “We also appreciate our leaders in Washington addressing the truck driver shortage, expanding broadband connectivity across farm country, and incorporating a pilot project that highlights the benefits of biobased construction materials containing soy.”

Among the items included in the bill are $17.3 billion for the nation’s ports and inland waterways and $65 billion for broadband internet access, including $2 billion specifically for rural broadband, which will provide more farmers and residents of rural areas with high-speed internet access. An estimated 29% of farmers don’t have access to internet service, an important tool for marketing crops and planning for planting season.

“Whether it’s shipping corn and corn products on America’s highways and waterways or using technology to order supplies or sell crops, farmers rely on a safe, stable and reliable national infrastructure,” said John Linder, president of the National Corn Growers Association from Marrow County. “Corn growers need these investments in infrastructure to continue to be successful and competitive globally.”

While NCGA supports many aspects of the bill, NCGA was disappointed the Senate did not take up important amendments to fund infrastructure to support the use of higher ethanol blends and to provide a narrow fix to ensure continued full market access for ethanol blends at 15% of the volume of gasoline year-round (E15), Linder said. 

“Greater market deployment of higher ethanol blends would immediately lower greenhouse gas emissions and help clean the air, and higher blends save consumers money at the pump,” he said. “We will continue to work with members of Congress and the Biden Administration on pathways to include infrastructure and other support for higher blends of biofuels as an effective clean energy solution.”

Linder thanked Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) for submitting a biofuels infrastructure amendment and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Deb Fischer (R-N.E.) and 11 bipartisan co-sponsors for filing an amendment to ensure continued year-round access to E15. The legislation, which does not include tax increases for individuals or corporations as previously proposed, now goes to the House of Representatives.

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