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Opinion: Rural Missouri off to strong start in 2020

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2020 is off to a strong start for rural Missouri, thanks to several big things the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate have gotten done together. With two new trade deals, significant regulatory reform and major investments in broadband, rural communities are well-positioned to take advantage of the great economic opportunities ahead.

Because of our agriculture-driven economy, Missouri is one of the states that benefits the most from trade deals that lower tariffs. The new trade deal with Mexico and Canada — Missouri’s two biggest trading partners — will lead to more jobs and bigger paychecks. Nationwide, exports are expected to grow by $2.2 billion under USMCA. And our trade relationship with Japan — the world’s third largest economy — is even stronger, thanks to a new agreement that went into effect Jan. 1.

Missouri’s economy is at its best when we’re making and growing things. To do that, we need to have the right trade policies and the right regulatory policies. That’s why my colleagues and I also worked with President Donald Trump to get rid of massive, unnecessary regulations.

Last month, the administration delivered an important victory for rural Missouri by undoing and replacing the misguided Waters of the U.S. rule. Over the last several years, I’ve gone to the Senate floor many times to share the concerns of farmers, ranchers, small-business owners and local officials who told me that WOTUS would have driven up costs and made it impossible for them to do their jobs.

The previous administration’s regulation would have given unelected Washington bureaucrats control over more than 99% of Missouri, including everything from ditches to puddles to ponds. Getting rid of this rule is an important part of the broader effort we’ve been working on in the Senate to roll back regulations that would cost a lot, but have little or no positive impact.

We have the strongest economy we’ve seen in 50 years. To keep the momentum going, we need to make smart, targeted investments in infrastructure.

Ending the digital divide is one of the most important economic and quality-of-life issues in rural America. Having high-speed internet is critical for students to do their homework, businesses to reach new customers, hospitals to treat patients, and farmers to maximize yields and access new markets. While we’ve made progress, about one-third of rural Missourians still don’t have access to broadband.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations and Commerce Committees, I’ve been working closely with my colleagues and the administration to accomplish our shared goal of bringing high-speed internet to every community in America. Just a few weeks ago, the administration announced that our state will receive an additional $60 million investment through a new rural broadband pilot program I was proud to support. That program has brought a total of $100 million to Missouri providers.

In 2018, Missouri was awarded the largest amount of any state through the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction: a total of $255 million over the next 10 years. I’m continuing to work with the administration to make sure we get federal support to the areas that need it most.

With world food demand expected to double in the next 30 to 40 years, now is the time to be sure rural communities are in the best position possible to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities ahead. We’re on the right track with our trade policy, tax policy and regulatory policy.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, can be reached through


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