Rep. Delgado Chairs First Hearing Examining Opportunities for Growth and Investment in Rural America

June 17, 2021
Press Release
Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation Executive Director Todd Erling Testifies in House Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Antonio Delgado (NY-19) held his first hearing of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. The hearing examined opportunities for growth and investment in rural America. Executive Director of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation Todd Erling testified during the hearing.

“Today's hearing will examine a topic many of us know intimately – the critical need and importance of investment in rural America. USDA analyses tell us that between 2010 and 2018, population growth in rural America has lagged behind the growth in our urban areas. Additionally, job growth in rural communities increased at just half of the rate it did in urban areas,” said Chairman Delgado in his opening remarks. “I could go on with facts and figures about how many schools, hospitals, grocery stores, or small businesses have closed in our rural communities in the last decade, but if you live in a rural community like I do – you already know that.”

“This hearing is also not just about the typical economic drivers in rural communities, but about the infrastructure that's needed to serve those communities and support the critical role they play in the agricultural production and manufacturing industries. Our nation's aging infrastructure problem is exacerbated in rural communities,” continued Chairman Delgado.

Chairman Delgado is a champion for rural communities in upstate New York and across the country. This Congress, he successfully advanced his Direct Support for Communities Act, which was signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation delivers $130.2 billion to counties and municipalities across the United States. The formula will bring over $400 million directly to local governments in New York's 19th Congressional District, helping small counties, towns, and villages invest in their infrastructure, improve public health, and support small businesses. During the hearing, Delgado’s Rebuild Rural America Act was discussed as a critical tool for rural America. The bill would provide rural areas with flexible five-year block grants, giving them the money, time, and capacity to carry out regional economic development goals.

Click here to View the Full Hearing

 

Chairman Delgado introductory remarks:

“Good morning, and welcome to this first hearing of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit for the 117th Congress.

I would also like to welcome the members of this Subcommittee as my first hearing as Chairman in what I aim to be a productive and bipartisan tenure.

Today's hearing will examine a topic many of us know intimately – the critical need and importance of investment in rural America.

USDA analyses tell us that between 2010 and 2018, population growth in rural America has lagged behind the growth in our urban areas. Additionally, job growth in rural communities increased at just half of the rate it did in urban areas.

I could go on with facts and figures about how many schools, hospitals, grocery stores, or small businesses have closed in our rural communities in the last decade, but if you live in a rural community like I do – you already know that.

This hearing is also not just about the typical economic drivers in rural communities, but about the infrastructure that's needed to serve those communities and support the critical role they play in the agricultural production and manufacturing industries. Our nation's aging infrastructure problem is exacerbated in rural communities.

Inadequate access to high-speed internet impacts every level of a community, from students being able to do homework, farmers and ranchers utilizing precision agriculture technologies on their operations, all the way to how quickly a grocery store can process a transaction at their checkout.

Our goal cannot just be to keep rural communities alive – we need to do the work to ensure that those communities are thriving and can succeed in a 21st century economy, and that's what I hope to get out of this hearing today.

Our witnesses are working every single day to build thriving rural communities, including a witness from my district in Upstate New York. Their testimony today will help inform us on how we can strengthen rural development in the next Farm Bill and how we work with our partners at USDA Rural Development as they continue to implement the 2018 Farm Bill.

The daily lives and well-being of over 46 million people living in rural counties across America are directly impacted by the kind of work we'll do here today, and I want to ensure that every single one of those 46 million people can choose to stay in their rural communities for years and decades to come.”

Witness List:

  • Dr. Phanesh Koneru, President and CEO, Exela Pharma Sciences, Lenoir, NC
  • Ms. Ines Polonius, CEO, Communities Unlimited, on behalf of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Fayetteville, AR
  • Mr. Bob Fox, County Commissioner, on behalf of National Association of Counties, Renville, MN
  • Mr. Todd Erling, Executive Director, Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp, on behalf of the Farm and Food Growth Fund and the Agricultural Viability Alliance, Hudson, NY
  • Mr. Kent D. Mattson, CEO, Lake Region Healthcare, testifying on behalf of the Minnesota Hospital Association, Fergus Falls, MN

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