IMPORTANT VOTING INFORMATION
Background: The struggles of rural America have been well documented. Nationally, small communities face shortages of critical professions like doctors, teachers and firefighters. They’re becoming older demographically, while shedding residents, businesses and jobs. Even in Colorado, which boasts one of the best state economies in the nation, a stunning 98% of new jobs in the last decade have been created along the urban Front Range, leaving wide swaths of the state behind. Recent federal assistance has come in the form of a farm bailout and tax incentives, but produced mixed results.
Help rural communities access federal money
A: He released a plan for rural America that includes more money for health care, agriculture research at colleges and broadband internet. He also wants to create a position to help rural communities access federal money through a strikeforce position.
Reduce corporate influence in the agriculture sector
A: His plan to boost rural America is designed to help farmers address climate change and boost economic development. In addition, Sanders wants to use government regulation to reduce corporate influence in the agriculture industry. He supports a $15 minimum wage requirement and would invest in more small business loans.
Health care and broadband are key investments
A: The key to boosting rural communities like those in Colorado, Warren says, is providing health care to every family, a public broadband network at an affordable price and a sustainable agriculture industry that raises farm incomes and protects the environment. In terms of agriculture, she wants to reverse mergers that hurt competition and break up large, vertically integrated agribusiness companies. Other tenets of her platform are aimed at rural areas, too. She says her plan to cancel student loan debt will allow people to move to rural areas, rather than force them to move to cities for jobs. Likewise, an investment in renewable energy can help lead to jobs in rural areas. And she wants to pump billions into creating affordable housing in these communities.
Federal support needed to address globalization
A: Bloomberg acknowledges that globalization and automation in the economy hurt rural areas and he believes the federal government has ignored the issue. To boost local economies, he wants to extend high-speed internet -- either through wireless, broadband or satellite -- and support worker training and business development. Without offering specifics, he said the creation of innovation hubs and other programs would increase high-wage jobs. In addition, the campaign says its plan to spend more on infrastructure would promote growth and spread prosperity.
Big money needed for broadband and mental health
A: Steyer blames unchecked corporate power for not addressing problems in rural America such as income inequality and climate change. He proposed a $247.5 billion investment in broadband technology and a $175 billion plan to address mental health services and opioid addiction. He supports a $15 per hour minimum wage to help farmworkers and would protect the rights of those workers to unionize. For areas below the federal poverty line, he would direct additional funding under a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
A heartland economics approach
A: The senator’s campaign didn’t respond to questions. In August, her campaign released a detailed “heartland economics” plan that addresses a host of agriculture and rural issues, promising more investment and support. For farmers, she supports more commodity support and crop insurance, as well as more loans for rural small business.
Rural American can help with climate change
A: His plan to improve the rural economy includes a focus on economic development, including better access to high-speed internet. He sees efforts to address climate change as a potential benefit to rural areas through carbon sequestration in soils and by paying farmers for conservation. He also set goals to increase college degrees and address teacher shortages in rural areas.