After three rounds of promoting Bidenomics this fall, President Biden will launch an “investing in rural America” blitz at a farm in southern Minnesota on Wednesday to call attention to the billions of dollars being spent on rural development and agricultural projects. Rural voters increasingly have voted Republican in the past two decades.
The White House said six cabinet secretaries and seven senior officials would barnstorm the nation over two weeks to spell out how federal investments, “including climate-smart agriculture, are bringing new revenue to farms, increased economic development in rural towns and communities, and more opportunity throughout the country.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he would join Biden at the farm in Northfield, 40 miles south of Minneapolis. “We’re ensuring rural Americans have the necessary tools and support to find opportunities in their hometowns,” said Vilsack on social media on Monday. Vilsack also was to speak to the National Future Farmers of America Organization, which opens its 96th convention on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
The blitz would coincide with the beginning of the one-year count-down to the Nov. 5, 2024 general elections. Some administration officials would speak in swing states but most would not. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was to speak in Arizona on clean energy in rural communities and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small was to speak on rural economic opportunities in Michigan and Wisconsin.
In the 2022 congressional elections, Republican candidates got 68 percent of the vote in rural counties, a big change from 2006, when the vote was split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, said an analysis by the Daily Yonder. In the same interval, urban voters voted more and more heavily for Democratic candidates. Some 63 percent of the urban vote in 2022 was for Democratic congressional candidates. “The last two congressional election cycles have seen a general decline in Democratic support,” wrote Sarah Melotte and Tim Marema in the analysis.
In a 10-page fact sheet, the White House cited initiatives such as $1 billion to expand local meat processing capacity, $3.1 billion for pilot projects to develop climate-smart farm products and markets for them, and a $900 million fund to spur domestic production of fertilizer.
The 2021 infrastructure law earmarked billions of dollars for work in small towns and rural areas, such as making high-speed internet available to everyone, said the White House. Some $9.7 billion was made available through the 2022 climate, health care, and tax law to help rural electric cooperatives to adopt clean energy systems. The USDA said it was the largest federal investment in rural electrification since the New Deal.