CHIPS for America program to benefit ag, rural communities

The deputy director of the National Economic Council says the CHIPS for America program will help build out US leadership in semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing.

Sameera Fazili says more than $50 billion has been allocated for the program from the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August.

“The program is to build out U.S. leadership in semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing. About $30 billion dollars is going to be used to expand leading edge, next generation chips and $10 billion is going to be used to build out the domestic supply of current generation of semiconductor chips,” she says. “Why this is important is that semiconductor chips power everything in today’s economy from your appliances to your farm equipment to your cars to our missile systems and so you need a mix of these leading edge and current generation chips in almost any good that consumers and businesses, including rural businesses, are using. Right now, the U.S. makes zero percent of the next generation and leading-edge chips and so expanding the supply has been a top priority of the president.”  

She tells Brownfield the program will benefit the agriculture sector after it was negatively impacted by the chips shortage

“The Department of Commerce is going to put out applications for this grant program in February and as early as the spring they could be making the first awards,” she says. “One of the areas where they think you could see awards sooner rather than later are for those legacy chips. Because we actually do make some of those here in the U.S., companies could apply for quicker expansions of productive capacity for those types of chips so that we can get more chips quicker for your Caterpillar equipment and John Deere equipment that’s been in shortage for the past year and a half.”

Fazili says it will also create manufacturing and construction jobs in rural communities.

“For rural America, there are a number of sites that are often needed to build these semiconductor factories,” she says. “…There is a lot of opportunity here from rural America to benefit and for both the site that is selected and for workers and small businesses in rural America becoming part of the supply chain in the domestic chips industry because the program is not intended to just build a few factories. To really strengthen US leadership in this industry we need to create a new ecosystem that supports the chips industry, and that ecosystem is not just about factories, it’s about suppliers, researchers, and workers who work up and down the chips supply chain.”

This week, the U.S. Department of Commerce released its strategy for implementing the CHIPS for America program.

The program’s four primary goals are: establish and expand domestic production of leading-edge semiconductors in the US; build a sufficient and stable supply of mature node semiconductors; invest in R&D to ensure the next generation semiconductor technology is developed and produced in the US; and create tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs and more than hundred thousand construction jobs.

Audio: Sameera Fazili

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