Best days lie ahead for the rural economy


By Terry Goodin

As a lifelong Hoosier, I grew up raising beef cattle on my family’s farm in Austin and have been committed to rural communities ever since.

In my 20 years of serving in the Indiana House of Representatives I was committed to creating better opportunities for rural Indiana through educational, agricultural, and rural development initiatives, including the expansion of broadband connectivity. Under the leadership of President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack, I look forward to furthering these efforts.

Last week, President Biden used his first State of the Union address to talk about where our country has been and where we are going.

The President mentioned a lot we can be proud of and even more to look forward to, especially in rural America.

The country has faced deep challenges over the past year, and the people of rural America know this better than anyone.

But rural communities are resilient and as the success of rural America goes, so goes the rest of the country.

That’s why the progress we have made in rural Indiana over the past year is a good sign for everyone. By investing in water infrastructure and broadband, rural business opportunities and the American food supply chain, USDA is helping communities build a foundation for sustained economic growth.

For example, last week my staff attended the groundbreaking celebration for the city of Cannelton’s $11.4 million wastewater infrastructure project. With help from USDA’s Water & Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, the city will replace 6,000 feet of damaged sewer piping, build a new lift station, and construct a new wastewater treatment facility that will benefit nearly 1,600 people.

A great example of how we’re helping to support Indiana’s food supply chain is by investing in ag producers and small businesses like family-owned cheese producers Jacobs & Brichford. The ag producers recently received a $247,000 Value-Added Producer Grant to expand marketing and sales of their award winning raw milk cheese products.

Additionally, through programs like the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, we’re answering the President’s call to create more resilient, diverse and secure supply chains. Promoting competition in the processing sector will lead to fairer prices for farmers, greater value for workers, and more affordable and healthier food produced closer to home for families.

These investments create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. They help grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out like the President talked about. And they contribute to a circular economy where the resources and wealth we build in rural Indiana, stay right here in Indiana.

And they’re just the beginning. In the State of the Union, President Biden committed to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, begin to replace poisonous lead pipes — so every child — and every American — has clean water to drink at home and at school, provide affordable high-speed internet for every American — urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s plan for the economy is already producing historic wins, and there’s room for everyone to participate, no matter their zip code.

That’s why we’re optimistic that our best days lie ahead.

By giving everyone a fair shot and providing equitable access to federal resources, we can do our part to carry out the President’s economic vision. That means making more things here at home, strengthening our supply chains and lowering costs for working families. It means giving people opportunities to make a good living without having to leave the communities they know and love.

For a lot of us, that means staying right here in rural Indiana.

Terry Goodin is the United States Department of Agriculture’s Indiana state director for rural development. 

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