Congresswoman Escobar Hosts USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Gloria Montaño Greene, USDA Rural Development State Director of Texas Lilliana Salerno, and IBWC Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner
El Paso, October 26, 2022
Tags: Environment and Energy
Today, Congresswoman Escobar hosted United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Gloria Montaño Greene, USDA Rural Development State Director of Texas Lilliana Salerno, International Boundary and Water Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner, and various stakeholders around El Paso to discuss the USDA’s role supporting local farms and infrastructure.
“Our community is no stranger to the effects of climate change,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “The climate crisis is quickly transforming our planet, requiring us to address its impacts on our critical water and farming infrastructure. I’m grateful Deputy Under Secretary Montaño Greene, Director Salerno, and IBWC Commissioner Giner joined us today to see first-hand how our community has adapted to recording breaking droughts.”
During their visit, the group joined Congresswoman Escobar and toured several locations in El Paso. They met with local farmers and stakeholders to discuss the effect drought is having on the Rio Grande, the local farmers who depend on its water, and how local agencies and the USDA can address drought issues. They also joined Desert Spoon Food Hub directors and producers to discuss USDA funding and impact on small and organic farms.
Another stop for the group was to visit with AYUDA to learn more about the challenges and opportunities for colonias and explore how USDA may support for infrastructure and economic development. This particular visit coincides with Congresswoman Escobar’s priorities and history of addressing disparities faced by colonia residents.
In May 2021, Congresswoman Escobar introduced H.R. 3238, the Colonia Infrastructure Improvement Act, that invests $1.5 billion in drinking water, wastewater, and surface infrastructure while creating good-paying jobs. Several of these provisions were also included in the INVEST in America Act. Additionally, financial support for colonias was included in the House FY23 NDAA by Congresswoman Escobar that reauthorized the dormant EPA wastewater grant program at $100 million a year over a 5-year period and reduced the local cost share to 20 percent. Congresswoman Escobar also secured $70 million for drinking and wastewater USDA loans/grants for colonias and Native American communities in the FY22 appropriations omnibus bill, which was $2 million more the previous year.