Notes from Washington
August 18, 2014
This summer, Pat Brown, a member of Nexsen Pruet's Agribusiness Team, attended the White House Rural Council’s Rural Opportunity Investment (ROI) Conference.
At the invitation only event, Brown joined business leaders, legal and financial experts, farmers, ranchers and public sector officials to explore ways to enhance financing options and create investment opportunities in rural America. The White House Rural Council and the United States Department of Agriculture organized the events, which included presentations by Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack as well as Governors and other dignitaries from around the country. Each presenter highlighted business opportunities in rural areas throughout the United States. Topics included:
- Community Infrastructure
- Investing in BioFuels and Renewable Energy
- BioBased Product Manufacturing
- Regional Food Systems
Analysts expect that more than $100 billion in new investment will be developed across rural America in next several years. This includes ethanol biorefineries fueled by corn, soybean and advanced (non-food) feedstock. Such alternative energy projects are being built in several mid-western and southern states. Wind farms and solar energy projects are expected to grow in numbers and size. Rural areas will become home to more biobased product manufacturing – including chemical and medical products – because those industries need to be close to where feedstock supplies are grown and harvested.
Also, investment banks and other financial institutions are opening access to debt and equity capital to finance new rural enterprises. At the Conference, CoBank announced a new $10 billion investment fund. It will be used to finance rural infrastructure, water and sewer projects, hospitals, schools and other community facilities.
Nexsen Pruet's Agriculture Lending team is the legal architect for the Rural America Bond Program. In 2005, Nexsen Pruet lawyers originated the concept, and then crafted the pilot program that was adopted by the U.S. Farm Credit Administration.