WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will visit a family farm in Minnesota on Wednesday as part of two weeks of stops in rural America by top administration officials that are intended to highlight how increases in government spending can help improve peoples’ lives.
Biden’s focus on the state comes just five days after Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota announced he was running for president, becoming the party’s first elected official to challenge Biden in the 2024 primary.
Administration officials say the trip to Minnesota was planned long before Phillips’ announcement, even though the congressman had been publicly mulling a primary campaign for months, and is more about promoting policy than politics.
Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will use the farm as a backdrop to highlight how federal investment in rural areas helps farmers through legislation the White House helped champion, including the public works law that Congress passed in 2021 and last year’s health care and green energy package.
The White House wants to highlight improvements to critical infrastructure, including high-speed internet, safer roads and bridges, clean drinking water and reliable energy. The goal is to show that Americans in rural communities do not have to move away in search of economic opportunity, according to the White House.
Phillips’ presidential aspirations aside, the tour may ultimately serve to boost Biden’s reelection campaign, making voters more aware of potentially popular programs in rural areas that have shifted heavily toward Republicans in recent elections.
The trips that begin Monday will emphasize a number of administration initiatives in rural areas, including $1 billion to expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity, which is meant to give farmers more market options and reduce prices.
Officials will promote Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, an Agriculture Department program aiming to spend about $3 billion on 140-plus projects nationwide that help farmers seek new market opportunities as part of efforts to combat climate change.
In Indiana, Vilsack plans to address Future Farmers of America about opportunities for young leaders in the agricultural sector. In stops in Wyoming and Colorado, he will highlight land conservation efforts.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will go to New Mexico to discuss water infrastructure and to Colorado to showcase projects to remediate abandoned mines in rural communities. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will be in Arizona to talk about power grid and clean energy investment in the rural Southwest.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough plans to visit Iowa to discuss improving access to medical care for veterans in rural areas. The head of the Small Business Administration, Isabel Guzman, will travel to Georgia to talk about loans for rural small business. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will be in New Hampshire promoting how community colleges help students from rural areas. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will be in North Carolina talking about health care access in rural areas.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su will be in Pennsylvania to discuss boosting employment opportunities in rural areas. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will head to Indiana to discuss how international trade can benefit rural farmers and producers.