Ahead of Biden’s rural America tour, White House emphasizes green energy, agriculture policies ⋆

President Joe Biden is set to kick off his “Investing in Rural America” tour Wednesday in Minnesota in hopes of showcasing his administration’s legislative wins intended to help bolster small town economies and retain rural populations.

The rural Midwest has already been the beneficiary of programs funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan, but White House Senior Advisor for Rural Engagement Will McIntee said the tour will go a step further in highlighting rural policy initiatives, several of which will have direct impacts on Michiganders.

Will McIntee | Courtesy photo

McIntee said in an interview Monday with the that clean energy infrastructure and climate-smart agriculture have been two of the administration’s key priorities in rural areas, and that Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) mechanisms like the Empowering Rural America Program have allowed for historic investments in making rural communities more environmentally friendly.

“[The IRA] invests $19.7 billion to help member rural electric cooperatives, including in Michigan, provide their communities with clean, reliable energy that is also affordable,” McIntee said. 

Biden will also discuss plans to help small businesses and farms invest in energy efficiency and lowering costs. McIntee said that addressing these types of concerns in rural communities will further economic opportunity.

“Far too many communities have been left behind when it comes to meeting these critical infrastructure needs,” McIntee said. 

The other focus of Biden’s tour will be programs designed to create jobs and keep families in rural areas. McIntee said that Biden and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hope to prioritize population retention in America’s small towns by providing services like high-speed internet access, reliable electricity and updated infrastructure for clean water.

“The president and Secretary Vilsack often talk about the importance of creating opportunity in rural communities so that those of us who grew up in small towns have the opportunity to start our career or continue our career near our families, right there at home, and that we don’t have to move away,” McIntee said. “We need those folks to stay to continue to be able to grow and to be able to produce the goods and services that so many rural communities have historically provided.”

The White House outlined plans for Biden to begin the tour at a family farm in Minnesota, which will be continued across the country by other administration officials. The events will span topics from federal funding infusions to tribal communities to expanding access to healthcare services in America’s most rural areas. 

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McIntee said the issues addressed in the tour are indicative of how Biden intends to execute his rural policy agenda in states like Michigan.

“It really speaks to how the president views all of these investments coming through this administration, whether it’s from the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act or the CHIPS and Science Act, with an eye for implementing these programs equitably to meet the unique needs that each community has,” McIntee said.

Further event locations for the tour will include a visit from Vilsack to Indiana and appearances by Deputy Agriculture Secretary Xochitl Torres Small in Michigan and Wisconsin. 

McIntee said that administration leaders are eager to display policies that will have a positive impact on rural America. 

“These investments both unlock the ingenuity of our rural communities and provide opportunities for rural Americans across the country, including Michigan,” McIntee said. 

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authored by Lily Guiney
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F10%2F31%2Fahead-of-bidens-rural-america-tour-white-house-emphasizes-green-energy-agriculture-policies%2F

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