Some rural partisans have tried to prevent President Biden and the Democratic Congress from rebuilding America’s infrastructure by stirring fears that the President’s plan to pay for those investments would hit farmers with more taxes. This, of course, is bunk from the billionaires: President Biden made clear from the start of the infrastructure debate that he would protect family farms from changes to the capital gains tax.
And even if farmers—or more accurately, their corporate overlords—pay more in taxes, they’ll also enjoy a reduction in costs thanks to better roads and bridges:
Iowa farmer Dave Walton is a prime example of where the problems are. During the fall harvest, he drives his soybeans east to a terminal on the Mississippi River, where a barge will eventually deliver them down to the Gulf of Mexico. But that first leg of the trip takes Walton a lot more time than it used to.
“We have to detour in several places now because the bridges are in disrepair and the weight limit has lowered,” Walton said, adding, “It can be miles and miles out of the way” [Katie Lobosco, “Trump Went All-Out to Win Farmer Support. Now They’re All in on Biden’s Infrastructure Plan,” CNN, 2021.09.26].
We can also reduce farmers’ costs by improving our river infrastructure:
The Mississippi River provides a cost-efficient and environment-friendly way to move and export farm produce and manufactured goods — but many of the locks are older than the 50 years they were designed to last. While improvements have been made recently, delays still cost $44 million a year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
A lock closure could cause a major problem, backing up barges with no other way to go until it’s fixed.
“The locks are showing their age. The real big worry is having a failure at one of these sites during harvest season,” said Mike Steenhoek, the executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition [Lobosco, 2021.09.26].
Terminally narrow-minded Republicans would throttle our investments in infrastructure to preserve tax shelters for wealthy elites. But investing in infrastructure ultimately puts more money in everyone’s pockets, including farmers.