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U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said rural broadband funding is expected to emerge as a big winner in the federal stimulus package. “There’s going to be plenty in there for rural broadband,” Harkin said. “We just have to make sure we get it out.”

In a conference call with The Daily Yonder and other media, Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, estimated that $9 billion could go to broadband extension, much of it in rural areas. That’s how much is included is included in the Senate version of the stimulus bill. The House bill, which now moves to the U.S. Senate, includes $6 billion in funding to stimulate broadband deployment across the U.S.

Harkin also said on the conference call that E85 ethanol should get a boost as well from this new legislation. There are expected to be tax incentives in the stimulus package for filling stations to put in more blender pumps. This would widen the market for the biofuel. The senator said he plans to offer amendments for more funding of biofuels and biomass in programs already established under the Farm Bill. “We’ll try to do more in that area,” Harkin said.

— Douglas Burns

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