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President Biden's Minnesota visit to include announcement of $5 billion in rural investments

President Biden to visit Northfield Wednesday
President Biden to visit Northfield Wednesday 01:41

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — President Joe Biden is visiting Minnesota Wednesday to announce more than $5 billion in investments to rural communities across the country.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join him as they visit Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield to kick off a two-week "Investing in Rural America" tour.

RELATED: Biden's Minnesota trip serves as a show of political force against primary challenger Dean Phillips

The White House says of the $5 billion, $1.7 billion will go toward what is called "climate smart agriculture" — practices Dutch Creek Farms has incorporated. And the hope is it will catch on with more farmers in Minnesota and beyond to help create more economic opportunities while combating climate change.

It's no secret Minnesota farmers have struggled especially in recent years. This was the third consecutive season Minnesota has suffered severe, and in some places, extreme drought conditions.

Farming is also not immune to inflation. Farmers also say equipment, parts and labor costs are more expensive now than they were just four or five years ago.  

RELATED: "This is the worst I've ever seen": Minnesota's 3rd consecutive dry season has farms on the ropes

President Joe Biden WCCO

White House officials said they'll be promoting partnerships through the agriculture department to help farmers utilize cover crops, reduce tillage and increase soil nutrient management. That way, farmers can work smarter and not harder.

"We're putting those tools and resources out there so that Minnesota farmers are able to continue to do what they do best, and we're able to both mitigate on the climate side, but also create new markets and new revenue streams for our farmers as well," said Will McIntee, senior advisor for rural engagement.

Improving broadband access in Minnesota and across the country is among the president's top priorities. Biden is expected to announce $274 million in investments for rural high-speed internet connection.

Roughly 200,000 homes and businesses across the state don't have access to broadband capabilities and even more don't have access to high-speed internet. Many are in these hard-to-reach rural communities.

RELATED: Minnesota to receive "game changer" $650M for broadband from federal infrastructure funding

Minnesota has tried to do its part to help. The legislature has supported a state program for broadband since 2014. In nine years, it's connected more than 100,000 homes to broadband through $296 million in state grants.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, roughly 92% of all homes and businesses are connected to basic broadband, but the remaining 8% is considered the most costly and difficult to connect because they are mostly in rural areas.

The Biden administration said high-speed internet is a critical need and can unlock many economic opportunities, especially for Minnesota farmers.

"We look at precision agriculture and what that means for farmers and ranchers to be able to monitor their farms to more efficiently apply fertilizer, to be more efficient during planting season [and] during harvest as we see right now," McIntee said.

Other areas of focus for Wednesday's announcement include clean water, reliable and affordable energy and improvements to infrastructure like roads, bridges and ports.

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