U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham met with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss investments to increase broadband access and boost economic growth in New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham has introduced the Rural Broadband Expansion Act (H.R. 4308), which authorizes a $100 million grant program to install broadband infrastructure in areas where it is not economically viable for private companies to otherwise do so.
In addition to providing access to the Internet for rural communities, the bill would help stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Lujan Grisham is actively working with Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee to include the legislation in the Farm Bill and will continue working with Secretary Perdue on this important issue.
“Farmers, ranchers, and rural Americans are some of the most innovative, creative, and hard-working people in the United States, but without broadband access, they can’t harness their full potential to compete in a modern economy,” Lujan Grisham said. “Broadband increases economic activity, produces jobs, enables telehealth services and improves health outcomes, increases crop yields, and so much more. I am excited that the Secretary and I agree on the importance of this transformative technology, and I look forward to working with him to provide this critical infrastructure to rural and underserved communities.”
In 2015, the FCC reported that 61% of New Mexicans living in rural areas lacked broadband access. Access is even worse in Tribal lands where 80% of the population does not have access to fast broadband. Overall, 39% of Americans living in rural areas (23.4 million people) lack access to high speed broadband. Fixing the urban-rural divide should be a priority as Congress drafts the next Farm Bill.
Lujan Grisham and Secretary Perdue also discussed strategies to end lunch shaming in schools. Last year, Lujan Grisham introduced the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act (H.R. 2401) which prohibits this heinous practice throughout the country.
“No student should be humiliated in front of their peers because their parents can’t afford to pay for a meal,” Lujan Grisham said. “It is shocking and shameful that this happens to hungry children, but nearly half of all school districts use some form of lunch shaming. The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act will put an end to these draconian practices and help ensure that students can focus on their studies without looking over their shoulder to see their friends pointing fingers.”