Rural Ohio

Despite being held up for months over political maneuvering, the House of Representatives recently passed the long-awaited Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The legislation contains investments in traditional infrastructure that will  benefit farmers and rural communities.

“Our nation’s infrastructure gives America’s farmers and ranchers a competitive advantage and helps us move products from fields to consumers around the world,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “These investments will ensure we continue to safely and efficiently transport the agricultural and food products that our nation and the world rely on.”

Nearly half of the bridges in the United States are over 50 years old, and every day in the United States, Americans make 178 million trips across structurally deficient bridges. Over $110 billion of this bill will be dedicated to roads and bridges, including Cincinnati’s Brent Spence Bridge that connects Ohio to Kentucky.

Water infrastructure also will be getting some attention, with some $17.3 billion to enhance the mode of transportation for Ohio commerce.

“That’s so important, particularly for our grain farmers and all of the product that is moved down through our rivers out through the ports of New Orleans and other ports across the country,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “Natural disasters have put quite a strain on the country’s waterway system, so reinvesting in this critical infrastructure is so important to our members.”

While most Americans take broadband for granted, 1 in 4 U.S. farms have no access to high-speed internet, a necessity to opportunities and essential services. That issue will be addressed with this funding as well.

“Through the pandemic it became very real to policymakers how serious the lack of broadband is as people worked from home, schools went virtual, and telehealth needs grew,” Kern said. “This package includes $65 billion for broadband development nationally that can be added to some of the advancements we have seen at the state level to continue that push to get more Ohioans connected to reliable broadband resources.”

Funding through this legislation also will augment Ohio’s water quality efforts as additional monies will be given to Great Lakes Restoration. Northwest Ohio has already seen a substantial amount of support in federal dollars for farmers to make improvements to land management practices, and with this bill they will continue to receive help for investments to keep Ohio water healthy.

Ag haulers also will benefit from the infrastructure bill as it continues an exemption to an “Hours of Operation” rule for the trucking industry, which was created with the health and safety of livestock being transported. That exemption was set to expire.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is one of the most comprehensive investments in America’s infrastructure in some time, and its framework and success has strong Ohio ties as both of the state’s U.S. Senators were very actively involved in putting this package together.

“Senator Portman really took the lead in the negotiation of this bill and, with the help of Senator Brown, got this bill to a place where it could garner bi-partisan support,” Kern said. “Ohio Farm Bureau shared the importance of the traditional aspects of an infrastructure bill and although there are certainly parts of it that don’t align with our priorities, we appreciate the work of all of our representatives to address those immediate issues impacting our members in this legislation.”

Having opportunities to attend leadership institutes, advocate for rural Ohioans on the state and national level, facilitate young ag professionals events, and serve in a variety of leadership positions have helped my skills grow exponentially.
Sara Tallmadge's avatar
Sara Tallmadge

Ashland County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
I was gifted the great opportunity through an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways grant to run a series of summer camps here. That really expanded my vision of what ‘grow, maintain, sustain and explain’ could actually be.
Jim Bruner's avatar
Jim Bruner

Mezzacello Urban Farms

Farming for Good
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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