COLUMBUS, Ohio — In this week's ag report, Spectrum News 1 agriculture expert Andy Vance discusses the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed Tuesday and how it may affect rural America if signed into law.

What You Need To Know

  • The Senate passed the  bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Tuesday

  • The legislation would include $550 billion in new federal investment in the nation's transportation, water and high-speed internet infrastructure

  • Each week, Chuck Ringwalt and Andy Vance discuss a topic of concern involving agriculture

"I think the most obvious [benefit] is core transportation categories that were included in the spending," Vance said.

From the bill, $110 billion will be set aside for roads, bridges and transportation projects.

"In reality, rural America really needs that construction investment when it comes to those rural roads and bridges that are so critical to getting products off of the farm and into the marketplace," Vance said. "Passenger and freight rail was another big one — $66 billion. Our rail system is a vital competitive advantage for U.S. agriculture as is our ports and waterways — $17 billion of the bill was dedicated specifically to ports and waterways."

In a statement released shortly after the bill's passage in the Senate, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the bill will expand access to high-speed internet and lead to good-paying jobs.

“For rural communities that lack adequate access to high-speed internet, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act delivers broadband to rural homes, communities, and businesses across the country — increasing access to jobs, education, health care, banking and markets for farmers and rural small businesses," Vilsack said. "It also upgrades our power infrastructure, improves drinking water and connects rural communities through upgraded roads and bridges."

Vance said rural Ohioans are likely to see that investment.

"If you look at a map of the state of Ohio in terms of access to high-speed broadband; again those of us who live in more populated areas maybe take for granted that you can get really strong, solid high-speed internet at relatively inexpensive rates," said Vance. "That is not the case in rural parts of the country, including a not so insignificant portion of southeastern Ohio, maybe some of the areas of northwestern Ohio, far eastern Ohio; those areas will absolutely benefit from additional investment in rural broadband."

The bill will now go before the House of Representatives for consideration.