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tv   Hearing Focuses on Rural Development and Energy Programs  CSPAN  September 29, 2017 12:02am-1:30am EDT

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health even within the legal system because the reality of the malpractice attorneys is they don't take the case unless someone has died.
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[inaudible conversations] good morning. members of the committee i call this hearing on agriculture and forestry to order today's marks the ninth hearing this your dedicated to stakeholders all around the country country, programs are working as we work towards a formal. this includes taking look and spending requests and proposals and do not have day budget baseline. as i said the committee must be mindful of a very tough budgetary impairment that we have to face while it is a principal duty to ensure the next farm bill provides our producers with the necessary tools and resources to feed
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a growing and hungry world with the responsibilities don't stop there the farm bill needs to support businesses with schools. said and that is what the farmers and ranchers call home. we had the opportunity to hear from a number of stakeholders. into the witness is a apologize. looking at the electric cooperative. and then with an affordable
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and reliable energy. and with the commodities. the roll telecom provider in working to provide high speed broadband roughly the size of connecticut. >> i hope today's hearing to provide committee's opportunity to so to have the assessment of agriculture with us at acting administrators in the
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role business. they will discuss his vision for economic prosperity negative and provide an update on program functions we will hear from private sector stakeholders from the rural cooperatives that work every day to provide essential utilities servicers -- services to whom those all over the country. a university professor leading a state of the art research chemical product and with renewable energy
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assessment. looking forward to our discussion today with those energy titles of the phone bill. and the recommendations to approve these programs in any other remarks they would like to make?. >> this is such an important hearing to discuss issues with role communities all across the country and want to welcome our witnesses today. and with the rural economy that those who live in rural america are facing tough economic times. but there are many opportunities to invest in the future and to help them
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get back. role communities are the first to feel the effects of the economic downturn and the last to see the impact of the improving economy. looking ahead to the next farm bill we need to think strategically to how we can achieve long-term economic growth. heavily said the farm bill is a jobs bill. with that world energy title we are discussing today has a wealth of opportunity and however it important it is with that economic development efforts so to
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ensure the quality of life is very personal for me. so for the communities to thrive in the 21st century economy with access to high-speed internet is one of the top ways to make sure that happens. usda provides critical support and capital to expand product and access we need to strengthen the tools available for gore also need to continue investing in other forms of infrastructure it is unacceptable that their small towns that cannot afford to modernize the water system to provide clean drinking water. small-business needs access to capital as well to help entrepreneurs grow businesses while also
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offering new employment opportunities for the community at large the need to continue to invest as we drive these economies forward and in michigan is the heart of the economy. that is why we created opportunities to support bio based manufacturing companies are creating new products and the economic benefit is to fold with manufacturing opportunities for our businesses to invest in renewable energy which also leads to job creation and according to a new report 92,000 clean energy jobs in michigan alone. the program in america helps businesses lower utility
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bills by installing renewable energy systems to make energy efficiency upgrades. innovations help us to become more energy independent. it is clear the opportunities we have created in the 2014 farm bill are helping our small towns crate jobs and support communities where parents want to raise their children . as we begin work on the next farm bill i look forward to building on the progress to help rural america reach its full potential. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman in the event i cannot get back i have a witness someone like to introduce of the second panel.
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first thank you and the senator for having this hearing and i have a panelist today from south dakota, a good friend who is incredibly capable general manager with a telecommunications copper mine negative cooperative. is companies served in my home town of myrtle south dakota he will be 98 -- for my dad lives and he will be 98 per goodies' spends a lot of time watching cable and on the internet and the most informed and least patient constituents because he calls me to complain whenever he sees. [laughter] but they have been around since 1916 providing services across the state with that 27 year history. have and what makes the current job so challenging
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is the company's location one of the most rural areas of the country with ranch in farming operations miles apart often want to or two hours away from the city. but he keeps a large part of rural south dakota in touch with the telecommunications industry that most of us take for granted. serving as a general manager will want to become then eastern region manager and has a bachelor's degree of science in journalism and went on to received his master's in human-resources from the diversity of south dakota which means he is conflicted when it comes to the football season.
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thank you for sharing your recommendations how this committee can help you improve access to broadband and rural areas. thank you for that indulgence i appreciate having the denny here today. >> and a you are very busy and we urge you to keep working on tax reform on the finance committee. we will introduce of first plo businesses first currently serving as assistant to the secretary of usda world development and an indiana native working on agriculture for over 15 years in both the house and senate and as republican chief counsel to the division of forestry and
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the director of agriculture for her home state where she was an adviser to the governor at that time mitch daniels. outside of public-service she was in private law practice of rising and agriculture in the environmental regulatory matters and is of a graduate of kansas state university with the bachelor of science degree magna cum laude. in addition a law degree from indiana and master's from the university of arkansas. we are delighted to have been before our committee today. welcome back. >> the next witness is mr. rich davis serving as the deputy head minister for cuny programs world development since 2010.
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it provides loans and grants to improve the use of girl areas and these facilities include health care and public safety and a variety of other projects. we thank you for your service and for being here today. mr. parker served as deputy administrator and works of the department of agriculture for more than 26 years and is the current capacity managing a team that provides assistance to rural communities in the area of research and education and statistics and fake based initiatives. that is quite a list. [laughter] fifty-four years service for
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our last witness is the acting director of the rural utilities service and oversees the operation for planning and policy focused on rural telecommunications and broadband and sewer systems. thanks for being here today. go-ahead. >> good morning chairman and ranking member and members of the committee i am truly honored to discuss prosperity and roll america a passion and know that i share with each of you here today and is critical to importance. growing up in indiana agriculture and small towns of the my life calling starting in 4h i followed my love of farming into college and law school to be an advocate for rural america. over the course of my career i was blessed to serve as
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counsel to the senate house agriculture committee during the 2002 permit 2008, 2014 farm bill -- farm bill to end in each of these chapters i have a sincere appreciation for partnerships to assist rural community also a deep respect for each of u.s. chief advocates for the rural interests understate with an understanding of the monumental challenges that will meet so many needs. i will start with what you already know from the states that you represent that many are challenging and today 85 percent of those counties are in rural america. very few, home to the towns
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when they grow up. and many times there is not the access to critical infrastructure folks need to stay connected. looking at these challenges challenges, we are asking what can we do to make a difference? suggested that question i have found the best answer comes from the ground and just last week made a visit to minnesota a small city recently built a day care facility asking how the town came to make this investment and was told when any site selector comes to visit their town they're always looking bigger, high-speed internet, good roads and rail access. we want to be partners to build prosperity.
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congress has provided tools and as we look to enhance the resources the secretary has said it sold for zero priorities for our team earlier focused on partnerships and coordination leading a task force on agriculture and prosperity bringing together the federal agencies that impact rural communities. so with those four key issues quality of life, work force it innovation and economic development. then working in strong collaboration at the state and local level. second we are tackling infrastructure needs. robust modern in the structure that they have proposed the creation of a new infrastructure fund to
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offer tools to respond to the needs of rural america. finally we're focused on innovation to address the many challenges and opportunities they face. secretary perdu announced his intention led by an innovation officer said his data policy and trend analysis. and to become more foreword focused. so in closing to extend a heartfelt thank you and you move forward in secretary purdue works with each of you that it is a place of prosperity for generations to come. >> mr. davis?. >> good morning chairman, ranking member and
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members of the committee. i appreciate this opportunity to testify today by thinking converse for ongoing support of rural communities. if your support rhs made a significant transformative investment in the small towns and communities those fundamental mission is to increase economic opportunity to improve the quality of life in rural america. at key part of the portfolio has critically needed infrastructure. to provide rural america to much needed capital for the options are limited or nonexistent and in recent years demand for the al long cost financing has surged in the program has experienced a ninefold increase of funding levels. many facilities expect to utilize all of these funds
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and continue to maintain a strong pipeline of projects for next year. currently the total portfolio is 8.8 billion with a maturity invested the educational facilities and public safety infrastructure. and the portfolio remains strong and it will have a negative credit subsidy rate in fiscal 18. community facilities one swelled to current issues facing rural america. as you know rural towns and communities have been hit hard by the opioid crisis. to play these important role to mitigate the crisis to rural america by stripping investment with mental and behavioral health care and other facilities that provide treatment and prevention and recovery
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support for the also continued to prioritize investment in the future of america's children by supplying day care including charter schools. positive start to provide rural children with opportunities to further education and achievement of this program -- program strongly supports to have critical needs with other skilled professionals shortages across america. the size and complexity has grown to take a leadership role with the public-private partnership to leverage tactical expertise to leverage large complex infrastructure projects. and to serve more rural communities with economic
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growth and job creation and access to critical services. as we move forward r.h. just is confident it can successfully implement the programs needed for a thriving american upper copings for the opportunity to share how we expand opportunities in rural america to improve quality of life every day. >> thank you for being on time. mr. parker. >> senator roberts and members of the committee will development strengthens the rural economy through increasing access to rural areas in expanding the by an economy including supporting opportunities for biofuels and renewable energy. with those programs and services with partnership of
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private sector funding are at the forefront to improve the lives of several americans. to head to keep jobs in rural america to help competes in the global marketplace. to a fiscal year 2017 to successfully deliver $1.7 million of funding to help 12200500 businesses create perce 55,000 jobs. to focus to efficiently and responsibly provide services that meet the needs of rural americans. to remain committed with economic opportunities to create jobs and expanding markets and with guaranteed loan and grant programs but
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more importantly to attract investment capital to rural areas that may not see such investment. they continue to be a leader with america's energy independence and security. with the expansion of renewable energy projects. to administer a suite of programs for a more sustainable energy program. reap is a successful program it promotes energy efficiency and development for agricultural producers and rural small businesses. fiscal year 2017 reap will decide funding for 12 under projects costing over $100 billion debt leveraging 18 times the budget authority. and as a business modeling cornerstone in many communities with enhanced
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educational and health care services that enables them to compete in the global economy. to create local job opportunities and revenues are maintained and recirculated. one of the most popular opportunities is the value added program. they may be used for planning activities and working capital for the value-added product for farm based renewable energy to compete in the global economy. and committed to prosperity through improved access to economic development on a regional scale. we continue to examine operations to create efficiencies and seek opportunities to leverage
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resources. think you for your time is an honor to be here today i hope my testimony is informative. >> i'm sure it will. thanks for your 26 years. >> senators coming things for the opportunity to testify today in your support for rural electric water and broadband infrastructure through the. >> host: team. halt important basic utility infrastructure is to the quality of our lives. the heroic response to utility workers to restore power or communications and water illustrates the true spirit of rural america and the long term success that has been nurtured by this committee and usda. investments help deliver
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reliable energy with clean save water to help rural communities grow and prosper . the portfolio of loans are standing and $60 billion from the annual program level is $9 billion. electric program helps utilities strengthen infrastructure they're replacing aging plants with a smart kid technologies to expand transmission capacity . this fiscal year we expect to obligate for a million dollars of improvements of the electric grid as well as new investments of energy efficiency. the telecommunications program finances prod the arab. data shows a nearly 40% to robust modern broadband service and during f-117 we
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expect to obligate $427 million for start of the art when negative did the art communications in remote areas. they connect to the information age and to the talent and services and products. grant programs are making profound distance in the communities they serve. so far we have obligated $6 million to fund first time broadband service of the most underserved communities and 24 million with telemedicine projects. with environmental programs working to maximize grant funds for wastewater project serving the most financially be the communities and our nation. hoping to provide quality wastewater services to central to health and safety and economic future those
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that worked in and around small town america. expecting to use $1.7 billion to approve foist facilities but the entire agency will streamline procedures and coordinate efforts and automate where we can to allow borrowers in the agency to reduce paper and speed approval and enhance efficiency and we continue to work back customer experience as well as make some decisions that deliver value to the american taxpayer. they give for the opportunity to discuss increased economic opportunity and quality of life in rural all-america. >> now let's start off with few. shirley share with us your vision undersecretary produce leadership.
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this is an example you can tell us about with the assistance provided to rural communities. >> they give for the question. secretary perdu vision is to use resources for programs and people to partner with rural communities in one of the ways be what to do that is through innovation. this innovation center is a team to work alongside the administrators to carry out opportunities programs of outcomes and measurements that is designed to foster capacity building. a specific example of a trend analysis and partnership thinking about communities in the
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challenges they face whether the economy or the rise of a health challenge, we hope those can help this community by defining best practices that our successful to address that saved issue with other partnerships. i have a specific example to have an opportunity to visit on rural health care as well as the kansas farm bureau to be interested how the challenge of recruiting doctors with a discussion of best practices and that is a specific issue of many other states as well. >> i appreciate that.
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>> we co-sponsored the bill which would prioritize these community facility funding for construction of improvements to addiction treatment. can you comment on the demand of your agency to focus on addiction treatment? a thing we have a big problem. >> i agreed we have seen an uptick in the interest of these facilities. in the past fiscal year we have invested $300 million of substance abuse facilities to treat those with those issues. currently we see a pipeline
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going into new fiscal year 18 of at 400 million. i would say yes we see the need and thank you for the funding we have received to help invest in those types of facilities. >> i appreciate that. mr. parker you oversee a wide variety of programs for go can you discuss how they are geared toward stimulating the world economy and a targeted way?. >> figure for the question. our programs provide loans and grants and guaranteed as the also targeted ways to improve lives.
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we decided to have his staff to reach rural community with those organizations with access to capital and the understand how to reach those pieces of capital. with community lenders and banks and other types to put a guarantee on the loans of the secondary market to lend in their community what the normal lending limit would be. we have programs for producers and hurls small businesses and renewable energy following them to prosper. we have programs that help create new markets following them to gain revenue for value-added products.
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programs that allow farm credit institutions to invest in a strategic manner into rural communities and ways that provide resources and activities around development of new businesses to provide funding for pope programs that provide technical assistance in job training and feasibility studies so they are not wasting the capital they invest. >> a? question. this was for the entire panel but time did not permit me. what would it be the key challenge that you face in their rural development programs? give me your key
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challenge. >> i would say is a passion for broadband deployment to connect all of rural america the in the primary tool are though loan dollars that depend significantly on revenue streams that are under the jurisdiction of the fcc. the key challenge is to make long-term lending to of a sufficient innersoles service support where we see those support levels we see growth in demand where we have uncertainty of predictability of that
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support. and then to invest in telecommunications. the good news in kansas there figuring it out with some of the finest borrowers and examples that we recently improved the loan of the senior loan committee and western kansas is doing wonderful things but it is a big challenge and it depends very much on revenue sources that were beyond the service provider. >> welcome to all of you. welcome back to the committee it is wonderful to have you back with us.
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and broglie's said in your testimony you're the only agency in the federal government that has the distinct mission to create jobs in rural areas. supporting small businesses businesses, basic infrastructure with access to high-speed internet. that is why i was very concerned after reluct at the cuts of those areas. ken news speak too broad measures where you see us going and do we need more resources or less?. >> thank you for raising that important concern. i would respond and stand no
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to rural communities are the same although facing challenges many different resources for crimes committed to serving the needs of rural america and working with you and the members of this committee and committed to make effective and efficient use of what congress provided to meet those needs. >> i'll look forward to do working with you on that as well. we have bipartisan concerns to make sure we're not cutting back significantly and rural water infrastructure. and with those agencies as
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well when weighed think about the quality of life that small businesses have talked to in to be in northern michigan with the beautiful quality of life whether hospitals to provide the best quality medical care. i believe it is the peace and goodwill come each panel to speak on the priority to make sure we are connecting and not leaving rural america behind as technology moves so fast. the blade to know your comments further of broadband high-speed internet if you will commit to using every tool at your
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disposal end in michigan all across the country. >> using every tool we do have available to us my colleague works with other federal agencies to coordinate efforts in the electric program with rural electric cooperatives using cyberassets that could be leveraged in partnership with the consumer based broadband services. we're seeing amazing projects come before the loan committee would levels of support and we recently
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approved a badge of loans in south dakota some of the more remote areas. it is possible to be able to do this. their segments of the rule market of the story is ridden as to what will be available. there is the proceeding at the fcc to address telecom providers that meet levels of support in the year watching very, very closely and providing advice how those news support mechanisms can inspire cooperatives yen to new providers in those
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underserved areas. >> with anyone else like to speak?. >> i was bad stepping a note for a second to raise the opportunity for collaboration mentioning the task force secretary perdue is leading in this comes down to leadership in needing to see the federal agencies to play a role to work together and they are in close contact how they could be going towards a common goal. >> this is the issue of the moment at one time it was connecting a farmhouse with a phone and electricity now it is a high-speed internet and if we don't see that fix
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reelected the positive life in those communities. >> it is interesting. i echo with the ranking member just said this is so important. in arkansas we're not doing as well as kansas. need to visit with the chairman about that. eighty-four% lack access to broadband important. average so it is very we're getting ready to write the farm bill what policies can we do differently?. >> thank you senator
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bozeman. says melo cat broadband infrastructure with that lifeline of economic prosperity we're looking at three different pieces with a different agencies that the federal rubble to make sure there is collaboration how to increase is what is the internal process how to make the tools easier to use and apply for? who afford to working with the committee to the broad band program. >> whether through the
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customer base where state and federal service to bring costs down and the ways we can help by providing affordable financing and long term finance to those that invest. looking for opportunities of partnership and leveraging finding uses for the same infrastructure so we see the synergy between the sport spread and broadband. when rural providers and also broadband wireless providers take advantage of that capacity along the highway. it is multiple uses for that same infrastructure and to
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have a reliable source of financing and revenues for those investors putting those dollars at stake. >> know you are committed the secretary is committed to understand the importance of this this is on the mind of our constituents you cannot go forward without having that ability so now to switch gears so talking about waste water loans and grants. earlier this year the subcommittee hearing a constituent testified about his struggles of lack of running water. with the assistance of a grand they could direct --
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drill wells to bring water to their homes and neighbors. as we address the crumbling infrastructure, these are not mutually exclusive. can you talk about usda wastewater program and what more can be done to make sure girl america access to safe and reliable water them
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bringing that to their community. over loan and grant programs are communities of 10,000 or less we have to mix that combination to target the areas that need it the most.
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there is always more demand for resources than we have available. we work hard to spend down to the last penny to invest those resources widely. >> thank you. >> thanks to the panel i have a judiciary committee going on two doors away by lawyers concerned of rural development matters but that is where i stay here all these years. and partially with that opioid epidemic is devastating our communities
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including world areas in vermont a bill has been introduced to their credit requiring usda to make a priority for those drug loans and grants for substance abuse disorder treatment services. and we should make a priority to combat ant farm bill increase spending to combat opioid addiction. i know you're looking at this closely that i asked you we support the efforts to make a priority of grants that combat the opioid epidemic? for direct loans and grants? helicon they do
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to improve those programs? that has become an epidemic with a democratic or republican issue with every single senator on this panel. >> secretary purdue had a session in new hampshire from various stakeholders to have an opportunity to address this issue but with your role in the topic to the immediate short-term
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communities to access also the distance learning program as well as prevention and resources with a significant opportunity is though longer horizon to be a strong partner to address those root challenges that the heart of this issue. >> you need more money to do that. correct?. >> resources will be needed. >> will you push for those?. >> you have my commitment. >> will you push for us to provide those resources? i am wearing my hat is the vice-chairman of the appropriations committee now. [laughter] >> you have my commitment to us to read those resources that are provided. >> to steward those you have
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to get them. i realize the restraints but you have to ask for the money and push for the many. -- money. >> i am sure we will receive a call on this topic and reunited in that effort. >> it is a republican or democrat issue. but vermont depends on 1. $4 billion economy every year which is a lot of money . but in vermont looking at these markets to the closure
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. we need a market for construction and we have to have both to manage our forest if you have for forest management we know what can occur. so does rule environment and existing farm bill expand the market in support the industry?. >> -- talking about crops to be a part of that?. >> hq senator for raising the important issue of our economy per car had an opportunity to travel with secretary produce to the northeast this month to see
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the importance of this industry in the region. several developments in programs the acting minister will operate on those business tools. >> my last question of is disappointed to eliminate section five '02, five '04, 515, to provide affordable housing. . .
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a it is an important segment of the economy, so absolutely.
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thanks for holding this hearing. i spent decades in the private sector before entering public service as part of building a world-class cloud computing company in bozeman montana. technology shows how access broadband can break down geographical barriers. as we say back home technology has removed geography as a restraint. they can start up their own small businesses and have access to global markets. when oracle required a company several years ago they were building out a better cloud computing structure. the three cloud command centers around the world for their clout operations for the seventh largest in the world which is
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now oracle. the three centers. for asia pacific at its asia-pa, for the americas is bozeman montana so it demonstrates the fact we are not just talk about backwaters players now come of thes, theseare nba level first g companies in the technology sector are but this is going to be impossible unless we close this gap but the urban residents have access to. sometimes i hear about for you to get fro from were cheated by achieving these areas. this places that haven't even found the alphabet get. it's one of the reasons i'm hosting a summit in early october to bring the leaders together to talk about how
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technology can help communities grow. additionally, programs like the farm bill and the community connect grants are important to areas across the country that they only work when applied correctly efficiently in the communities that have needed a. the broadband loans and grants have helped many in the united states however the impact of some like the community connect grants initiative have been limited in my home state of montana for example it's not yet received the community connect program during the tenure. if you could explain the criteria for this and help the businesses can be better utilized as of this important program. >> sure, i would be delighted to. first, montana does have some of the finest rural telecom companies in america including lincoln telephone recently
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secured on our u.s. loan in the telecom infrastructure so we are really proud of that partnership. the challenge in the community connect program is it's a smaller number of dollars in the competitive. the focus on the grant programs in general whether its telecommunications, electric or water are to focus their limited colors on those that have the highest need through the scoring criteria will favor the most underserved should have zero broadband and we are able to do right around ten or so a year based on the dollars appropriated. some years it's been significantly less and in a couple of years we will be able to shake up and get a few extra
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dollars and make it a little bit more. but it's been right around 10 million we can do about ten grants and there are just very competitive. we are delighted to work with communities and we would be happy to help devis advice commy groups and we look forward to working with you and your staff to find ways to improve. >> i want to shift gears for a moment to talk about the tribal broadband issues and the state recognized we now have access to broadband as it opens new possibilities and opportunities. unfortunately according to the fcc broadband report, 65% of the population on tribal lands lack
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access to the telecommunication services. many small companies stepped up to bring wireless and broadband access and we are grateful for that but i think the federal government does play a role in this. what are we doing to expand access to the tribal communities. >> tribal communities are a key focus of our outreach we are in frequent contact with travel organizations working with the nti h. to provide outreach and explain how our programs work. one of the challenges we do this are the rights of way where the land is often a checkerboard. some land is privately held. some is held in trust and some is held by families that are
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dispersed and maybe not even aware of their ownership of the land. i actually worked on a major project in montana that ran right up against the problem and it wasn't able to be completed because there wasn't an ability to get consensus. i know i'm out of time. we are good at playing checkers so we will make sure. thank you for your service is always great to see a fellow hoosier in the committee before we get to the questions i want to thank you for your service to the people of indiana and the country ensure you make all of us proud in your new position. i want to ask you about an issue
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that is near and dear to your heart and all of us. you are aware of the difficulty many communities are having responding to the challenges of addiction. i've been working with a number of members on the committee to ensure they have the resources to help communities respond more effectively. i've introduced a pair of bills with chairman roberts and want to thank them for their partnership to provide communities with what is needed. opioids and substance abuse impact every community that accessing treatment is even more of a challenge in some of our areas as you know across our state. can you discuss how the community facilities and telemedicine programs will help the rural families address the crisis? >> thank you for raising this issue and for your leadership.
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both of the programs you highlight a heart certainly being used right now to address providing treatment facilities and communities as well as using innovation to access the services that might not be in the immediate town. certainly mr. davis can go into specific numbers we have. i think one of the things i would like to circle back to that i am excited about and mentioned in the beginning remarks, the innovation center. this is a good example of an issue for communities finding themselves in the crosshairs for the first time who want to know what has worked well in other places whether it is true treatment resources or some of the other ways they have access to be leveraged to address the challenge that's a great example of the practices into the
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innovation center can innovate so they do not feel alone. >> we both agree substance abuse and addiction education and prevention programs are critical to ensure not only treating the symptoms but working to prevent them occurring in the first place. the program purdue extension which has a great reach into the rural communities around the state offer families substance abuse prevention programs that has been shown to lower the levels of substance abuse and younger people. can you discuss how important for the communities programs like this are for their families? >> absolutely. i've had an opportunity to see the program firsthand on the ground in the scott county and i think one of the great strengths of a program like that is it is lookina looking at the underling causes for many of the
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situations. when we look at those type of programs we are not just changing the immediate situation but a generation and having a broad community conversation about the factors that need to be addressed, things like public transportation, food security, literacy rates. it becomes a catalyst for the conversation that will result in stronger communities for the future. >> thank you mr. chairman. i wanted to start with a question on the pennsylvania initiative that has been replicated in other states but i want to make two brief comments, first the broadband focus on this hearing and the bipartisan
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concern about that is significant and the problem is urgent. i spent a lot of time going to counties in our state that are substantially rural. we have 67 counties and i was in the counties where 50% of the folks that live in that county don't have high-speed internet. sullivan county, 69%. counties all across the state have 40, 50, 60% without broadband so it's a major impediment for businesses and kids in school and the like so we are grateful that there is a focus on it and we have to do more. second, i am hoping history repeats itself in the appropriations process where the
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administration made a series of proposals in the budget which would eliminate both water and wastewater program eliminating interest payments to electronic telecom and rural economic development on and on. appropriators choose to do otherwise and i hope history repeats itself when it comes to the proposals with regards to pe farm bill just t to say that its outrageous and obnoxious doesn't get to the heart of it. cutting the supplemental nutrition assistance program by $193 billion over ten years so we are hoping this committee will be in bipartisan opposition to this kind of cut. i wanted to ask about the fresh food of financing initiative which is a success story from pennsylvania and replicated in a number of states around the
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country. pennsylvania's program created over 5,000 jobs were retained. $190 million of investment just from that one initiative by putting down just 30 million superdome 30 committed 190 and investments. it's helped in food deserts and it's also a program where there's a substantial personal investment up front but it's worked out well in a lot of states. my question is how do you see that initiative in the department of agriculture going forward because it's been battle tested, road tested and i want to get your sense of it. thank you for raising an important issue. it's certainly a piece of
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economic prosperity. when we look at the healthy food financing initiative i think you see an exciting model of the public-private partnership. we are looking at solving a long-standing challenge and rural america is not immune from that. we are looking at the national fun manager that has been designated for this program as they move forward with implementation, as an opportunity to learn from their experience to leverage the relationships they have working to enhance further investments in this area particularly in the low income communities. >> are there things that priority is our funding or otherwise the committee can help with two other us to that? one more question you can amplify in writing to value added producer grant is a valuable resource to assist
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small businesses and new and beginning with development and marketing of new products to increase income in our state these grants have been awarded a. can you elaborate more on how this program can be expanded to reach new audiences? >> this program touches everything in between and has opened doors to new business opportunities for a broad range of agricultural producers allowing them to break new products to market. as congress looks to improve the program we would be pleased to work with the committee for any thoughts you have about changing its effectiveness.
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>> a boat has been called. there is always that worry. >> while you vote and come back i will do the same so thank you very much i think the next step we have senator bennett. thank you for your service i want to express my gratitude to the secretary of agriculture for hosting a meeting earlier this week with senators concerned about the issue that i know it's not the topic of this hearing but i just want to say to my colleagues is holding this is
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long overdue and there is a strong bipartisan support much to the commitments he made in the confirmation process i hopefully will come together to solve this issue for the states not just the western states but the states over the country. i've been around colorado every year and it's clear that the communities continue to struggle with these challenging commodities but also affordable land and water and at the same time science estimates the new technologies could sequester 40
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to 50% of the carbon emissions meaning there is additional value in the farmland that isn't being taken into account. i was pleased to hear last week he discussed his commitment to prioritize climate change in the interest of future generations. i agree with his assessment of the house while and i think colorado's producers do as well. we have a unique opportunity to the usda programs to improve the livelihoods of the next generation through addressing climate change to diversify economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers. so i want to ask if you are willing to work with the committee and our team to identify opportunities to decrease the amount in the atmosphere while also enhancing incomes. >> thank you for raising this
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issue. the usda for many years the motto has been the communities and programs have adapted and adjusted to issues that have been important at the time and that will not change. >> i know we are on the cutting edge but it's so important for us to plan for the future to be resilient. where there is a possibility of adding new streams of income to farmers and ranchers operations i think it is critical to consider what those look like. is there anybody else that would like to say anything about that? i want to talk about the water infrastructure as well and let me also say i think the concern about broadband is one that everybody on the committee shares and/or communities desperately share when we see one can have broadband and another can't come it's tantamount to say one group of students can have text books this year and another group of
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students cannot. it's entirely unacceptable from this standpoint and i know you and yours as well. so we have to stay focused and also just to talk about the infrastructure i was in cuba meeting with the minister of our culture who pointed out to me that they don't have a tractor in cuba that is newer than 50-years-old. that seemed like a great opportunity for us but then i left and thought to myself we don't have a water infrastructure within 50-years-old in rural america including in colorado the utility's service has a significant backlog to repair and rehabilitate infrastructure blasted in coloradtheinfrastrucn colorado this program provided 13 loans and 6 grams of fewer than 5,000 people yet there is nearly a 30 billion-dollar backlog in colorado.
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i would like to ask you what you view as the biggest hurdle to producing this backlog in the program. >> we execute the law that congress passes and provides to the greatest extent possible we try to focus our resources where they can be the most helpful. we typically allocate water funding to the state offices of rural development and then at the end of the year if the individual states don't use those dollars, we pulled them on the federal leve level and targt them towards high priority projects so at any given time i
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have projects that are awaiting funding and the ingenuity and creativity of our staff across the country take those resources and less rich van and we look for every opportunity to be able to stretch those dollars. i think the idea is this particular part that has been highly unacceptable and we have to figure out a different solution. thank you madam chair thank you
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for that testimony. the point i heard senator bennett was talking and nodding your head saying that it was essential to the economic development in all areas. we have adequate deployment to meet the needs of rural america so i want to raise with you the issue pending before the fcc. are you familiar with that?
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we can sa say that wireless deployment is good enough and that we don't also have to look at the deployment of the start and. are you familiar with that? the natural cooperative association is one of many that filed the comments in that case and on page two of their filing with the state flat-out the commission should continue to assist in determining whether the capabilities are being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion.
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this proposal is happening in the 706 n. inquiry. >> i am not aware of this issue but we will be happy to follow up today. the secretary places the top priority on the broadband deployment and conductivity in america and they would be happy to get you that information. >> if i may address that point.
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the secretary of agriculture is in the rural prosperity task force i would just take a secretary at his word that he is engaged in these issues but if he's not fully aware and engaged with what's happening at the fcc for grants that are provided by the department of agriculture in and the communication loans and the rural broadband are all very important that what is happening in the fcc could have a bigger impact on the deployment of broadband in rural areas and
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that is why you've got the national electric cooperative association and all others waiting in. let them know the position of the department of agriculture is to not count on a wireless deployment as a total substitute for fixed deployment. i know you can't answer that today but i'v i did like the department of agriculture to get back to us, to get back to me and let me know if you are willing to pay in on this issue because everybody says, and i believe you, that you cared about broadband deployment.
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but this is going to have a big impact on the future of the broadband deployment and rural areas we will think each one of you for being with us on the first panel didn' penalty and mo second so that i can vote before the time runs out thanks to the
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first panel we appreciate the testimony. first the director of the center for agriculture and rural development.


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