Friday, August 21, 2020

Democratic platform for rural: broadband, credit, health care, 6-day mail, school funding, and a lot relating to agriculture

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden didn't say anything specific about rural America in his acceptance speech last night. What does the Democratic party platform say? Here are a few things:

"We will increase public investment in rural, urban, and Tribal broadband infrastructure, offer low-income Americans subsidies for accessing high-speed internet, and invest in digital literacy training programs, so children and families and people with disabilities can fully participate in school, work, and life from their homes. . . . We will increase access to credit for small businesses in low-income and rural areas. . . .We will double investments in community health centers and rural health centers, and expand mobile health units, to make it easier for low-income people to access health care." The platform also promises to keep six-day mail delivery and "reliable funding for rural schools."

The word "rural" appears 38 times in the 92-page, single-spaced document, once in a 425-word paragraph about agriculture, "the American heartland and rural communities." It promises to "make it easier for new and beginning farmers, aquaculture farmers, ranchers, and foresters, including returning veterans, to start and grow their operations . . . protect family farms and promote food security, including by taking steps to limit foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and reforming agricultural subsidies to better support small- and mid-sized farms. Democrats believe farmers should have the right to repair their own farming equipment, rather than being forced to rely on large corporations for even the simplest fixes. And we will expand domestic markets for family farmers and ranchers by developing and growing regional food systems to deliver fresh, American-grown produce to schools, hospitals, Department of Defense installations, and other major public institutions, so small, mid-size, and traditional farmers can stay competitive."

Biden identified climate chance as one of the four crises facing the nation. The platform says "Democrats will partner with America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters to make the U.S. agriculture sector the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, which will spark a revolution in agriculture and open up new revenue streams for farmers in energy and waste products, and grow bio-based manufacturing jobs. We will grow the nation’s biofuels manufacturing sector, including by strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard, supporting E15 blends, and supporting research, development, and deployment of advanced biofuels. We will expand popular, voluntary programs for sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices that help protect clean air and water and support wildlife habitats, including for threatened pollinators. Democrats will invest in research and development to support climate-resilient, sustainable, low-carbon, and organic agricultural methods."

On farm labor, the platform promises to "enforce labor and environmental protections for farmworkers, including overtime and safety rules protecting workers from exposure to pesticides and extreme heat, and ensure farmworkers are able to exercise their right to bargain collectively."

The platform also promises to "empower small and mid-size family farms by tackling market concentration in agriculture . . . and use the federal government’s procurement power to incentivize the humane treatment of farm animals in accordance with commercially-recognized animal welfare standards." For the entire platform, click here.

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