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Revitalizing Rural America

Fundamental change in America’s agricultural and rural policies is no longer just an option; it’s an absolute necessity. With the right support and policies, we can have rural communities that are thriving economically and ecologically.

Agriculture today is not working for the majority of Americans. It is not working economically for farmers, it is not working for rural communities, and it is not working for the environment. But it is working for big agribusiness corporations that are extracting our rural resources for profit.

For far too long, government farm policies have incentivized a “get big or get out” approach to agriculture. This approach has consolidated the entire food system, reducing farm net income, and driving farmers off the land in droves. As farms disappear, so do the businesses, jobs, and communities they support.

Moreover, one in six American children still live in food-insecure homes, industrial agriculture has taken a toll on the environment, and our rural communities have been left in a chronic state of economic decline and decay.

Our mid-size and small towns have been decimated. Local businesses were replaced with national chains, many schools and hospitals shut down, and good jobs left at an alarming rate. The next generation of rural Americans is finding better opportunities outside of the small towns where they grew up in.

Fundamental change in America’s agricultural and rural policies is no longer just an option; it’s an absolute necessity. Farmers, foresters, and ranchers steward rural landscapes, which benefit all Americans. They provide us with essential resources such as food, fiber, building materials, renewable energy, clean water, and habitat for biodiversity. They also have an enormous potential to address climate change. With the right support and policies, we can have rural communities that are thriving economically and ecologically. The following policies will drive a transition in our agricultural system away from a consolidated, profit-driven industrial model to one that rebuilds and restores rural communities.

1) Policies Leveling the Playing Field for Farmers and Farmworkers

2) Policies to Empower Farmers, Foresters & Ranchers to Address Climate Change and Protect Ecosystems

3) Policies to Foster Investment to Revitalize Rural Communities


Policies Leveling the Playing Field for Farmers and Farmworkers

Corporate control over agriculture: We need to address corporate consolidation and control of our food and agriculture system — all the way up the food chain from seed companies; fruit, vegetable, and grain growers; food processors; food distributors; and grocery chains. When markets become too concentrated, they begin to act more like monopolies than free markets.

Fair trade deals: Our current trade policies encourage overproduction and push low-cost commodities on foreign countries, effectively undercutting and destroying local agricultural systems while enriching multinational corporations. Our agricultural trade policies should not threaten the domestic food security of the U.S. or any of our trading partners.

Ensure a fair price for family farmers: Independent family farms have been decimated by past and current farm policies, in the pursuit of short-run economic efficiency. The food security of the nation still depends on farmers on family-scale farms who are committed to being good stewards of the land and good citizens of their communities and nation.

Rebuild regional agricultural infrastructure: Past and current policies that support large corporate infrastructure have destroyed small and medium scale agricultural and food processing infrastructure in rural communities.


Policies to Empower Farmers, Foresters & Ranchers to Address Climate Change and Protect Ecosystems

Combat climate change and invest in the working landscape: Our current food system accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions.  Not only can we drastically reduce on-farm emissions, farmers have the potential to actually sequester 10% of ALL human-caused emissions in the soil. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the industries most vulnerable to climate change. We need to incentivize farming systems that help farmers both mitigate climate change and build resilience to its impacts.

Protect the environment for all rural residents:  We have strong federal laws in place, but the current administration lacks the will to enforce them, particularly on mega-farms. Regulations should be scale-appropriate, and focus attention on the operations with largest impact.  Farm practices should not infringe on the ability of other farmers and neighbors to carry out the normal activities of farming and rural lifestyles.


Policies to Foster Investment to Revitalize Rural Communities

Education: We must prepare the next generation to rebuild, rather than to abandon, rural America. We must guarantee a strong public education system from childcare up to college and jobs training programs for every child and young adult in America.

Health care: We will guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program. Rural people in particular have suffered the negative consequences that result from a lack of access to affordable, quality health care. Access to health care is a top issue for farmers and have some of the highest uninsured rate, in fact 41% of dairy farmers lack health insurance. With Medicare-for-All, small business owners, including farmers, will no longer have to worry about providing health care to their families or employees.

Immigration: Immigrants play critical role in America’s agricultural sector and rural communities, but many undocumented workers live in constant fear of deportation and lack basic human rights.  

Rural Economic Development: Our rural and economic development programs have destroyed employment opportunities, led to an abandonment of rural infrastructure, generally depressed local economies and caused massive population decline in rural America.