President Barack Obama said last week it is important to rebuild infrastructure to help rebuild America, as well as strengthen rural communities. And part of rebuilding that infrastructure includes moving forward with the Arkansas Valley Conduit project — a project that would supply fresh drinking water to 40 communitie...
By Candi Hill
Ag Journal Online - La Junta, CO
By Candi Hill
Updated Aug. 13, 2012 @ 12:23 pm
By Candi Hill
Updated Aug. 13, 2012 @ 12:23 pm
» Social News
President Barack Obama said last week it is important to rebuild infrastructure to help rebuild America, as well as strengthen rural communities.
And part of rebuilding that infrastructure includes moving forward with the Arkansas Valley Conduit project — a project that would supply fresh drinking water to 40 communities in southeastern Colorado.
President Obama hosted a roundtable discussion with three rural community newspapers following his speech at the Agriculture Palace Thursday in Pueblo.
“The history of these kinds of projects is that once you get a project started and get some shovels in the ground and get it moving that it gets its own momentum and we’ve secured some dollars for it for the first time in 50 years,” President Obama said. “That allows us to get the project moving. It’s going to affect 40 communities and it’s kind of hard to argue against clean drinking water and frankly, it’s something that should have gotten done a long time ago. My general theory is a bill that was passed authorizing a project when I was born should be finished by now. But this is part of a broader choice that we have in this election because I’m a big believer that one of the things we need to do is rebuild America.”
And rebuilding America means rebuilding the entire infrastructure of the county.
“Our infrastructure is crumbling — our waterways, our wastewater facilities, our ports, our roads, our rail lines — all of these things need to be improved,” President Obama said. “We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We don’t now. And that’s going to put us at a competitive disadvantage. So not only do we want to make sure that we get the Conduit project done, but I also want to make sure that we’re focusing on infrastructure more broadly in rural communities.”
President Obama said it’s also important to focus on different sources of energy.
“The other thing that I think is really important is the potential for home-grown energy,” President Obama said. “In a region like Colorado, for us to continue to invest in solar and wind power as a way of not only of bringing ourselves from dependence on imported energy but also as an additional income generator for farmers and ranchers is really important. And Mr. (Mitt) Romney announced a week ago, a couple weeks ago, that he would eliminate the tax credit on wind. This has huge potential and, keep in mind, we know how to pay for these tax credits not like we add to the deficit we just take away tax credits for oil companies that are making money hand over fist and have been subsidized now for the last hundred years. So, I think there’s a a lot of potential for us to rebuild infrastructure, strengthen rural communities and, by the way, give opportunities for young people to stay in rural communities.”
President Obama said for the past three-and-a-half years, his administration’s focus has been on how to continue to strengthen rural communities which are “such a great source of strength for our economy.” He said rural communities also reflect values that make “America great — hard work, responsibility, helping your neighbor.”
By helping to strengthen rural communities, Obama’s administration has helped get broadband access to 7 million more rural residents and helped expand health care to rural communities, as well as making sure crops and livestock are getting a fair price.
“So much of my administration’s focus over the last three and a half years has been how do we continue to strengthen rural communities which are such a source of strength for our economy but also by the values that make America great — hard work, responsibility, helping your neighbor. I set up a rural council when I was running back in 2007-2008, and we spent the last three and a half years really trying to follow up on the recommendations that were made.
“Frankly, a lot of work that we have done internationally has been to pry open markets for American farmers and ranchers,” Obama said. “As a consequence, during the course of my administration, we have seen record farm income. We’ve seen record agricultural exports, farm economy has grown much faster than other parts of the economy and account for 1 out of every 12 new jobs in this country. But obviously, this year, we have had a stroke of bad luck with the drought. And I know that’s a top priority in everybody’s book.”
Obama has worked with the department of agriculture to make sure “we have an all-hands-on-deck approach” for dealing with the drought and have declared disaster areas in all but two Colorado counties to allow farmers and ranchers financial aid.
But, Obama said, the country needs a Farm Bill.
“Even as we do everything we can administratively, ultimately what we need is a Farm Bill out of Congress,” he said. “I was sorely disappointed in Congress that they couldn’t get it done before they went on vacation and I know that your two senators here in Colorado were pushing very hard. The problem right now is the House of Representatives not being able to move on a bi-partisan bill that came out of the Senate. Over the longterm, that’s not only important for drought — that’s important to provide certainty and stability for farmers and ranchers.
“There are a lot of rural communities in my home state of Illinois and my experience is that what’s important to them is making sure that the farm economy is working and under my administration the farm economy has been very successful,” Obama said. “That’s been money in people’s pockets. They’re concerned about water, well, as I mentioned during this rally, we’ve got a project that’s been sitting there for 50 years and finally funded through my administration. I think that’d be important to them. They’re concerned about access to health care and we’ve expanded access for rural communities and, by the way, farmers and ranchers — they stand to benefit from exchanges we are creating to pool together to get better benefits. They care about the security of the United States, our Armed Forces, are full of young men and women from rural communities and I’m very proud of the fact that my administration has taken care of veterans better than most previous administrations.
“If you look at what I’ve actually done, I suspect people in your area would have a lot of reason to vote for me. And, if they’re not voting for me, it’s (probably) just out of habit because they sort of assume he’s a Democrat and he’s from the city so somehow he must not understand us and usually my experience in Illinois was, if they got a chance to meet me it turned out that we shared values, we shared concerns and I understand how hard folks work in rural communities.”