December 6, 2023

A brand new report outlines rural coverage suggestions centered on 4 main tenets: defending folks’s freedom to stay and work safely; investing in infrastructure; reining in company greed and defending staff, small companies, and household farmers; and creating alternatives for a greater future.

Rural Individuals want insurance policies that put money into rural communities, assist small farmers compete with large agri-businesses, and maintain firms accountable, in keeping with a brand new report launched Monday. 

The 2023 Rural Coverage Motion Report, put collectively by a nationwide collaborative of over 30 rural coverage and advocacy organizations, in addition to native elected officers, requires particular investments, coverage enhancements, and regulatory reforms “to offer instruments rural folks have to succeed.” 

The report consists of coverage suggestions divided into 4 key pillars centered on a bunch of points that contributors mentioned are crucial to the success of rural communities, together with financial coverage, rural well being care, schooling, and local weather coverage.

The report is the fruits of months of labor from the coalition, together with an April summit centered on discussing their federal and state coverage priorities to assist rural communities throughout america.

Listed below are the 4 pillars of the report and the insurance policies contributors are calling for:

Defend Individuals’s Freedom To Stay and Work Safely and With out Discrimination

The report calls for safeguarding democracy and entry to voting by passing the For the Individuals Act, which would scale back the affect of huge cash in politics, ban partisan gerrymandering, strengthen ethics guidelines for public servants, and implement different anti-corruption measures for the aim of fortifying our democracy. The group additionally referred to as on lawmakers to make it simpler to vote by mail and to revive the voting rights of previously incarcerated folks.

The report expresses assist for the Equity for Farmworkers Act, which might give farmworkers equal rights to extra time pay and minimal wage requirements, and the Baby Labor Exploitation Accountability Act, which might guarantee US Division of Agriculture (USDA) contractors adjust to labor legal guidelines, develop youngster labor legal guidelines to unbiased contractors, and enhance penalties for youngster labor regulation violations.

It additional calls on the federal government to offer extra alternatives for Black farmers; acknowledge Native nations and honor treaties; present rural communities which were victims of air pollution with authorized pathways to carry polluters accountable; enhance investments in counties with persistently excessive charges of poverty; and restore entry to abortion care nationwide.

Spend money on Foundational Infrastructure for Thriving Communities

The report’s contributors clarify that addressing rural infrastructure is essential for the way forward for these communities. 

They name for “fixing the two-tier tax system” that makes it so billionaires and a few firms pay decrease taxes than center class staff; passing the Small Enterprise Lending Disclosure Act, which might improve transparency on small enterprise loans and defend companies from predatory lending practices; and reauthorizing the Safe Rural Colleges Program, which offers crucial funding for colleges, roads, and different municipal providers to greater than 700 counties throughout the nation.

The report additionally requires passing payments to handle trainer and faculty employees shortages in rural communities; investments in early childhood schooling by offering common pre-Okay; and the passage of the Save Rural Hospitals Act, which might protect entry to rural well being care, create alternatives for rural crucial care services, and put money into rural well being care providers. 

The authors additionally name for higher help for farmers, increasing entry to youngster care in rural communities, investing in rural broadband, and passing the Rural Housing Service Reform Act, which might enhance the standard of rural housing applications.

Rein In Unchecked Company Greed and Safeguard the Energy of Employees, Small Companies, and Household Farmers To Construct a Good Life

The report requires the passage of a number of items of laws centered on placing checks on company energy and strengthening antitrust coverage. 

The contributors additionally spotlight the urgency of passing the Farm System Reform Act, which might maintain company agribusinesses accountable for his or her air pollution, enact a manufacturing unit farm moratorium, and assist transition to extra sustainable livestock manufacturing; and the American Beef Labeling Act, which might reinstate necessary “Nation of Origin Labeling” on beef and pork.

Additionally they name for laws to strengthen Medicare and decrease prescription drug prices with a purpose to enhance rural entry to medicine. 

The report makes clear that empowering staff can be a key precedence, demanding the passage of a number of payments that may develop the definitions of unfair labor practices, defend staff’ rights to barter hours, location, and scheduling of their work, and develop office security and well being necessities.

Guarantee Alternatives for a Extra Safe, Affluent, and Sustainable Future

Pillar 4 of the report requires the passage of the Local weather Stewardship Act, which would supply elevated funding for USDA conservation applications, renewable power applications, and ecosystem restoration. The report additionally requires the passage of payments that may defend water high quality and confront the impacts of local weather change on American farms, make extra funding accessible for small farms throughout the nation, and supply secure and dependable funding for rural public lands, county providers, and schooling. 

Lastly, the report requires the enlargement of the Empowering Rural America Program (New ERA) and the Powering Reasonably priced Clear Power Program, which might create rural jobs and retire sure fossil gas vegetation.

Earlier Successes

The report additionally highlights insurance policies that the Biden administration has beforehand applied that profit rural America, such because the Inflation Discount Act (IRA).

Erik Hatlestad from Clear Up the River Setting (CURE), a rural, nonprofit group that prioritizes the well being of land and water, writes within the report how the IRA’s incentives and applications will leverage tens of billions of {dollars} in funding in rural electrical co-ops and communities to create 90,000 jobs, scale back power prices by as much as 20%, and remove huge quantities of greenhouse gasoline emissions.

“Our success is one among many main victories that rural leaders and rural communities fought for and received within the Inflation Discount Act,” Hatlestad wrote. 

The report additionally highlights the passage of a Rural Playbook, which was a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Regulation. The playbook was launched with the intention of serving to rural communities perceive the “the place, what, and the way” of making use of for federal infrastructure {dollars} allotted by the invoice, in keeping with the White Home.

The report comes as lawmakers have but to finalize the 2023 Farm Invoice, a significant supply of federal funding in rural America. The 2018 Farm Invoice expires on Sept. 30, the identical day authorities funding runs out barring congressional intervention.

Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow instructed Politico final week that senators aren’t in search of a farm invoice extension within the ongoing struggle over laws to fund the federal government and avert a shutdown on Oct. 1.