Share
This
  
 
Subscribe for
MOFB Updates

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Is New Infrastructure Finally Coming to Rural America?

BY ERIC BOHL

Is New Infrastructure Finally Coming to Rural America?

At long last, on February 12 President Trump unveiled his plan for revitalizing America’s infrastructure. The plan has some great news for rural areas, but significant questions remain about how it would work and if it can get the votes to pass.

President Trump’s plan calls for $200 billion in additional direct Federal funding of infrastructure projects. The plan aims to “spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments” when combined with state and local contributions. Projects would not be limited to roads and bridges; many long-delayed and much-needed items would be eligible, including airports, ports and waterways, flood control, water supply projects, drinking and wastewater facilities, hydropower and broadband internet.

The best news for rural areas is that $50 billion of the total $200 billion of Federal funds would go directly to rural areas. Even better is that most of these funds would be given directly to governors and allowing them to use flexibility to decide where to spend them. The remainder would be set aside for “Rural Performance Grants” based on individual applications.

Missouri would fare very well under the formula dividing this proposed $50 billion dedicated fund, which could only be used for projects in areas with populations under 50,000. The formula would apportion funds to states based on the rural lane miles in each state. With over 64,000 rural lane miles, Missouri ranks in the top ten in the nation. Bringing these funds to Missouri with state-level control over how and where they are spent could be a game-changer for our rural areas.

In addition to these incentive funds, President Trump’s proposal would also be transformative for the permitting process. Today environmental and other permitting for projects is incredibly complicated and expensive. The full process can involve numerous agencies with competing interests and can delay project completion for years. This proposal would set up a “one agency, one decision” approval process that would centralize and streamline decision-making, with a 24-month timeline for completing the entire regulatory approval process. These changes could be every bit as transformative as the additional dollars, as they would reduce the cost of projects and incentivize towns and states to move projects forward with more certainty.

The biggest question mark on this proposal is likely in counting legislative votes. While Democrats have opposed nearly every proposal in President Trump’s first year, they will likely be pushed by labor unions to give a plan such as this strong consideration. However, some fiscal hawks in the Republican camp will balk at a stimulus plan with a huge price tag, all of which will likely have to be funded with deficit spending.

This package will be taken as welcome news to much of rural America, which has felt forgotten for so many years. Time and politics will tell if it can become law and rural areas can start moving dirt.


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES

07-20-2017 - Dad's Farm Jacket

06-29-2017 - Come and Get It!

06-14-2017 - Meet Someone

04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

07-16-2015 - Time Well Spent

07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

04-29-2015 - Proper Road Etiquette

04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

02-05-2015 - No Skin in the Game

01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

10-03-2013 - Must-See TV

09-26-2013 - Chipotle, at It Again

09-13-2013 - Naked is Still Naked

07-25-2013 - Let's Play Ball

06-13-2013 - Rural is Relative

06-06-2013 - Playing by the Rules

05-30-2013 - Uncertainty is Certain

05-02-2013 - Watch and Wait

04-18-2013 - City Cousins

04-11-2013 - What You Don't Know

02-28-2013 - Barefoot in the Dirt

02-14-2013 - Rural Relevance

02-07-2013 - How It's Made

01-17-2013 - A Green Mindset

01-03-2013 - Knowing Your Neighbors

12-20-2012 - The Spare Parachute

12-06-2012 - Last Minute Shoppers

11-15-2012 - Attitude of Gratitude

11-08-2012 - Thanksgiving Time

11-01-2012 - Bacon is Big

10-25-2012 - Rural Votes Matter

10-11-2012 - The Farm Bill Big Deal

09-07-2012 - Farm Progress

08-23-2012 - A Real Dilemma

08-16-2012 - The Next Season

08-09-2012 - Land of Legacy

07-19-2012 - All Things Considered

07-06-2012 - One of Those Years

06-28-2012 - The Real Uncle Sam

06-07-2012 - Something Certain

05-11-2012 - Not Asparagus

04-05-2012 - Something to See

03-22-2012 - Doing Our Part

03-15-2012 - Farmers Get Trendy

02-23-2012 - We Reap What We Sow

02-02-2012 - Fanfare for Farmers

01-27-2012 - Recovery from Ruin

01-19-2012 - A New Coffee Shop

12-15-2011 - The Farmer's Tale

12-08-2011 - Made in USA

11-22-2011 - Tired from Retiring

11-03-2011 - Scars on Their Souls

10-20-2011 - Hooked on Halloween

09-15-2011 - Told You So!

08-17-2011 - They're BACK!

08-11-2011 - A New Type of Vacation

08-04-2011 - Perfection, Summer

07-28-2011 - It's a Show-Me Thing

07-07-2011 - Country Girl

05-12-2011 - Land Grab Underway

04-14-2011 - Earth Day Controversy

01-20-2011 - EPA, TMDL and AFBF

01-14-2011 - A Word of Caution

12-29-2010 - Mincemeat Madness

12-15-2010 - The Farmer's Tale

12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

11-04-2010 - Scars on Their Souls

09-16-2010 - Ratify to Help Rectify

09-01-2010 - Cut to the Crash

08-18-2010 - It's Not about Puppies

07-28-2010 - What a Great Ride!

07-15-2010 - Just a Smidgen More!

06-24-2010 - Oh, Oh - SpaghettiOs

05-20-2010 - Weiner Patties?

05-13-2010 - Farmland Restoration

04-15-2010 - God Bless You 14 Times

03-12-2010 - Don't CAP Our Future!

02-05-2010 - Thank A Farmer

01-15-2010 - Food Prices Leveling!

12-17-2009 - The Farmer's Tale

12-11-2009 - Who is in Charge?

12-04-2009 - Deal or No Deal?

11-24-2009 - Connect the Dots