Bennet Meets with Sterling Business Leaders, Hears Ideas on Rural Economic Growth

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today met with local small business owners and economic development leaders in Northeastern Colorado to hear ideas about how best to support business and rural economic development.

“Rural communities in Colorado are continuing to struggle through tough economic times,” Bennet said. “Congress needs to move quickly to pass the Farm Bill, an extension of the wind production tax credit and the postal reform bill, all of which will provide more certainty for our rural business leaders.”

The event was part of a two-day swing through Colorado’s Eastern Plains that will highlight the need to create jobs, support family farmers and ranchers, and boost economic development in Colorado’s rural communities.

The Senate passed a five-year Farm Bill extension, which includes programs to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities cope with drought, such as livestock disaster programs, that are paid for as part of a bipartisan agreement.  The bill includes $23 million in deficit reduction along with reforms to eliminate direct payments and to strengthen crop insurance programs.  The Farm Bill also includes a strong conservation title that Coloradans worked closely with Bennet, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, to preserve. The Senate is waiting on the House of Representatives to pass a bill that can be reconciled with the Senate bill.

Bennet has led efforts in Congress to extend the wind energy PTC. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a tax extenders bill that includes an extension of the wind PTC. That followed a bipartisan letter Bennet led, urging the committee to include the extension. He also led eight of the nine members of the Colorado Congressional delegation in a bipartisan letter calling for extension of the tax credit and has introduced two bipartisan amendments with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), cosponsored by Senator Mark Udall, to extend the PTC.  He has also partnered with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Udall to introduce the American Energy and Job Promotion Act, a bipartisan bill to extend the PTC for wind and several other renewable energy technologies.

As the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) continues to inch closer to default, the House is also sitting on the 21st Century Postal Service Act, which the Senate passed in May. Bennet successfully fought to include several changes in the bill to protect service, particularly in rural Colorado, where many community post offices are facing the possibility of closure. The bill includes an amendment Bennet introduced with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) to provide local rural communities facing post office or postal processing facility closures with an advocate in the process. The bill would also address future retiree health care payments, which the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was forced to skip this month for the first time in its history. USPS is expected to miss another payment due early next month.