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Granger Remarks at The U.S. Department of Agriculture – The Year Ahead Hearing

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today so that we can hear Secretary Vilsack’s plans for the Department of Agriculture.

The events of the past year have affected virtually every sector of our economy. This is especially true for our farmers and ranchers. Thanks to the staff at USDA, programs were quickly implemented to help those affected by the pandemic.

In addition to providing direct support to our farmers and ranchers, USDA provided temporary assistance to families who had their incomes reduced. I am especially thankful for the efforts of the department and our local communities to ensure children were fed when they were not in school. 

Not only were our schools closed as a result of the pandemic, in-person doctor visits were limited, and it was a challenge just to conduct normal business transactions. The urgency to close the digital divide in Rural America has never been more clear. 

30 million Americans, including 35 percent of Rural Americans, live in areas without any access to the internet. Many small, rural communities across Texas and the entire United States need high-speed internet in order to learn, access patient care, and conduct day-to-day business. 

I am proud of the investments we have made in broadband – in a bipartisan way – and I look forward to continuing to work with this Administration to secure additional resources.

While I support these types of critical investments in our rural and agricultural communities, we need to find ways to reduce spending elsewhere.

After providing trillions of dollars to address the pandemic, we are now faced with the stark reality of the highest level of debt our country has ever seen.

I hope we can work together on appropriations bills that adequately meet the needs of our farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and the hungry, while also keeping in mind the impact that record levels of spending will have on generations to come.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

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