Walz, Local Leaders Fight for Rural America
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) and local leaders are fighting for southern Minnesota by speaking out against parts of the President’s budget blueprint that would harm the lives of rural Americans.
“We need to stand up for America’s farmers, middle-class families and our small towns to ensure their voices are being heard in the budget process. Rural Minnesota has many reasons to be alarmed by the President’s budget blueprint. I am calling on my Republican colleagues in Congress to join me in standing up for rural America to produce a budget that matches our values. We need to work together to grow our economy, expand opportunity, protect our ability to feed and fuel the world, pioneer a new energy future and maintain vibrant places to live and raise our families,” said Rep. Walz.
Below are testimonials from southern Minnesotan leaders and organizations regarding the impact the President’ budget proposal would have on rural America.
Highway 14 Partnership:
"Cutting off TIGER grants limits the economic development potential for all the communities along Highway 14 and other rural areas throughout the country," said U.S. Highway 14 Partnership President Karen Foreman, who also serves on the Mankato City Council. "Highway expansion projects depend on special funding sources because regular highway funding only covers repair and maintenance. As Highway 14 has shown, individual highway infrastructure projects provide incentives for businesses to come to rural communities and create jobs. Walmart chose to build its regional distribution center in my city, Mankato, because Highway 14 had been expanded to four lanes. Other communities deserve the same opportunities for business and job growth."
Kevin Raney, vice president of the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership and a member of the Owatonna City Council, agreed. "It is disappointing that President Trump wants to get rid of a program that helps bring economic growth to rural communities. Minnesota applied for a TIGER grant for Highway 14, but there was insufficient funding. We need help from our federal partners for the type of strategic projects funded by TIGER grants."
Angie Bastian, Founder of Angie’s Kettle Corn:
“The Economic Development Agency assisted Angie's Kettle Corn with a revolving loan that helped finance an expansion of our business creating local jobs. It would be detrimental to local businesses and economic development to see the elimination of the EDA.”
Minnesota Farmers Union:
"A 21 percent cut for agriculture is too drastic, with such a bleak outlook for all segments of agriculture, including low prices for everything from commodities, to dairy and livestock. These cuts will have an impact on people’s lives for decades. Reduced staffing in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Services Centers will dramatically limit their ability to help farmers navigate farm programs.
The cut of $498 million to the Rural Water and Sewer Loan and Grant Program will make it virtually impossible for rural communities to get funding needed for adequate sewer and water critical to attract jobs and industry. A crippling $121 million reduction in the Weatherization Assistance program disproportionately impacts rural homeowners who use it to improve energy efficiency. The loss of $434 million in the Senior Community Services Employment Program impacts the only federal program targeted at helping low income individuals over the age of 55 find employment.
Add the rest of the proposed cuts, and rural America will find itself fighting for its very survival. Now is the time to invest in rural America, not punish us,” Gary Wertish, President, Minnesota Farmers Union
The Hormel Institute:
“Cuts to federal research budgets will have a huge negative effect on The Hormel Institute’s research programs," said Dr. Ann M. Bode, Associate Director of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.
Americans view cancer research as an extremely important cause and decreased federal funding will impede our ability to fight this deadly disease nationwide and across the world. Federal grant funding is the foundation of US research progress, and federal investment should be bipartisan - cancer is a common enemy and a major health threat to all Americans—not just Republicans or Democrats. Any proposed cuts also comprise an important economic threat locally and statewide because The Hormel Institute's scientists depend on research grants to fund their research programs - if they can't acquire federal grants, their current position and research programs cannot continue in Austin, Minnesota. This is a critically important issue and a huge threat to the strengths of all medical research programs but especially to us here at The Hormel Institute because the majority of our research programs are funded by federal money.”
Minnesota Farm Bureau:
“This is just the first step in a lengthy budget process, Farm Bureau will be engaged with the Budget and Appropriations Committees as this process moves forward to make sure agriculture and rural America will be at the table, and not on the menu,” Kevin Paap, President, Minnesota Farm Bureau
Center for Energy and Environment:
“The Trump energy budget is a cruel double whammy for the poor, elderly, disabled, and families with pre-school aged children throughout Southern Minnesota and the nation because it eliminates the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). These programs help the poor to insulate their homes and reduce their heating bills. Previous Administrations have proposed cuts to these programs but to our knowledge, no Administration, Republican or Democratic, has ever proposed wholesale repeal.” Joe Sullivan, Manager of Strategic Relations & Mankato resident.