Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Rural Agenda

I've been browsing President Obama's agendas for the last week or two and wanted to point out his Rural Agenda in particular. I am quite excited about many of his agendas, but I thought this one would be appropriate to post about here, since it will affect our food supply. I was quite impressed with this, as I'd been reading various sources over the last six months or so that have led me to believe he was pretty lukewarm on issues such as these. I think this should bring much hope and excitement to rural communities, which always get overlooked due to the focus on the inner-cities, even though they face many of the same problems that the inner-cities do. Of course, it is partially our responsibility to help President Obama accomplish these initiatives - if we believe in them at least. Most of these will require some action by Congress. It is always important for us, as American citizens, to contact our Congressional delegation on the issues we feel are important (whether in support or not). It is our right to have our voices heard - contacting your Congressional delegation is one very important way of being heard. I encourage anyone reading this, that feels these issues are important, to contact your Congresspeople expressing your views and requesting their support (or not) on these initiatives. And if you are one that sits back and does nothing, just waiting for things to happen, and then find yourself unhappy with the results... then I hope you don't sit around and complain about this or that... because you had your chance to help make a difference, you just have chosen not to.

I've just copied and pasted the agenda below.


Rural communities face numerous challenges but also economic opportunities unlike anything we have witnessed in modern history. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that together we can ensure a bright future for rural America. They will help family famers and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy.

Ensure Economic Opportunity for Family Farmers

~ Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. Implement a $250,000 payment limitation so we help family farmers -- not large corporate agribusiness. Close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around payment limits.

~ Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Pass a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.

~ Regulate CAFOs: Strictly regulate pollution from large factory livestock farms, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Support meaningful local control.

~ Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Implement Country of Origin Labeling so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.

~ Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. Promote regional food systems.

~ Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. Provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.

~ Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

Support Rural Economic Development

~ Support Small Business Development: Provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. Establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.

~ Connect Rural America: Modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.

~ Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement.

Improve Rural Quality Of Life

~ Combat Methamphetamine: Continue the fight to rid our communities of meth and offer support to help addicts heal.

~ Improve Healthcare: Work to ensure a more equitable Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement structure that often gives rural healthcare providers less money for the very same procedure performed in urban areas. Attract providers to rural America by creating a loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas. Promote health information technologies like telemedicine.

~ Improve Rural Education: Provide incentives for talented individuals to enter the teaching profession, including increased pay for teachers who work in rural areas. Create a Rural Revitalization Program to attract young people to rural America and retain them. Increase research and educational funding for Land Grant colleges.

~ Upgrade Rural Infrastructure: Invest in the core infrastructure -- roads, bridges, locks, dams, water systems and essential air service -- that rural communities need.

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