Yesterday, I welcomed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to New Mexico. At one of our stops, he announced that the U.S. Agriculture Department’s ReConnect Program is delivering $40 million from the Infrastructure Law to support three new projects that will bring high-speed internet access to dozens of rural households, local businesses, and farms in Catron, Chaves, De Baca, Eddy, Guadalupe, Harding, Lincoln, Otero, San Miguel, Socorro, Quay, and Union Counties.
Far too many communities and households in our state continue to lack affordable options to get connected to high-speed internet. That is especially the case in New Mexico’s highly rural counties like the ones that are receiving this funding. We need to go above-and-beyond to invest in connecting these communities to high-speed networks. That’s why we delivered $65 billion through the Infrastructure Law to expand high-speed internet networks all across the country.
PHOTO: (From left) U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, U.S. Representatives Gabe Vasquez and Teresa Leger Fernández, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury, and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján announce $40 million of funding from the Infrastructure Law to expand access to high-speed internet in rural communities in New Mexico, April 3, 2023.
Just like we did with rural electrification in the last century, we can and we will connect all of our households in New Mexico to affordable, high-speed internet. Because the internet is not just a “nice to have” thing – it is a necessity. Our kids need high-speed internet connections to do their homework. Small business owners need the internet to grow and reach new customers. Families need the internet to connect with telehealth services—from connecting with a medical specialist to accessing mental health care.
While Secretary Vilsack was in New Mexico, we also visited BlueFly Farms in Valencia County with U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez and local farmers. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture implements the $19.5 billion in climate-smart agriculture investments that we passed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act and as Congress begins to negotiate the next Farm Bill, I wanted all of us to hear directly from farmers in New Mexico.
PHOTO: U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez, BlueFly Farms owner Elizabeth Arnold, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich visit BlueFly Farms in Peralta, N.M., April 3, 2023.
Farmers know their land best. They don’t need politicians telling them that less predictable rain or poor soil will hurt their yield. They know and see that every day. What farmers do need more of are the resources to make their land more resilient. With those tools, the farmers who feed this country will also play a heroic role in our fight against climate change.
I just partnered with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years, to introduce the Agriculture Resilience Act, which sets a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 through farmer-led, science-based initiatives. Our legislation will make ambitious investments to help our farmers and ranchers improve soil health, expand conservation programs, increase research into climate agricultural practices, and support on-farm renewable energy projects.
The infrastructure investments that we are delivering to every corner of New Mexico offer us a real chance to reinvigorate our local economies and create new opportunities. I will keep doing everything I can to build a stronger economic foundation for all New Mexicans.