WASHINGTON, D.C. [3/15/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that she has been named Chair of the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee, which is tasked with overseeing many U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development programs, including the Rural Housing Service, and programs relating to facilities, utilities, loans, and renewable energy.
In addition to her role as Chair, Sen. Smith will also serve on the Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security Subcommittee, and the Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Subcommittee, as part of her role on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“By traveling to rural and Tribal areas across Minnesota, I know that in order for these communities to create jobs and strengthen rural communities, we need to support infrastructure,” said Sen. Smith. “As Chair of the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee, I will keep working to strengthen clean energy and clean energy jobs, access to affordable electricity and water systems, and advocate for funding that supports rural businesses and rural affordable housing, boosts local development, and promotes trade that benefits rural areas. I’m also looking forward to the work my colleagues and I will do on the Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food and Safety Subcommittee, and the Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Subcommittee, so that we can support farmers and producers nationwide.”
When she first joined the Senate in 2018, Sen. Smith fought for and secured a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because ag is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy. All Minnesotans are impacted by the Farm Bill, and Sen. Smith heard from Minnesotans with backgrounds in farming, rural development, rural health, and nutrition to make sure that all voices were reflected in the final 5-year bill that passed in 2018 after she joined the Ag Committee. That legislation included many provisions that Sen. Smith authored and championed, including improvement to the dairy safety-net program, the legislative roadmap for the energy title, and improvement to USDA conservation programs. It also included many provisions that benefit Minnesota’s native communities and new American communities, like permanent funding for beginning and traditionally under-served farmer outreach programs.
Sen. Smith has heard from farmers about the high cost of health care, including access to health care providers and access to mental health care resources, which is why Sen. Smith championed the creation of the rural health liaison at the USDA as well as funding for local mental health resources and to expand access to stress reduction and suicide prevention programs.
She also believes it’s important to invest more in Greater Minnesota, and with her leadership post on the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee, she will keep working to expand access to broadband and better infrastructure. Thousands of Minnesotans are employed in the ethanol and biodiesel industry, selling corn and soybeans to biofuel facilities boosts the incomes of farmers around the state. Biofuels are good for energy security, for our environment, and for our economy, which is why Sen. Smith will keep advocating for a strong Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. More broadly, rural areas have a huge opportunity to benefit economically and in terms of good jobs from the clean energy transition, including wind, solar, and other energy sources.