The Rural Caucus serves to ensure a voice for rural communities and our positions are developed to reflect the needs of those communities
Universal health care is paramount to the well-being and freedoms of our citizenry. It should not be tied to employment, or group vs. individual. Democrats are committed to ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care and treatment. It should not be biased by gender or race, or exclude pre-existing conditions.
We support increased funding for community health centers, and an increase in the funding and support for the National Health Service Corps, providing scholarships and support for students willing to serve in underserved locations.
Public Education secures a fair and level playing field for our citizenry. Rural schools are often the heart of the community: They should be a place that prepares us to go successfully out into the world, and effective and memorable enough to make us want to come home to have our children educated there.
We Support: Fully Funded Public Education; Broad-based curriculum (including Vocational, Science, Health, Technology, Math, Economics, Languages, Art, Music, History, Political Science, Literature, Dramatic Arts, Home Economics, Life Skills); Continuing Ed for Adults; robustly funded and affordable classes through our Community Colleges; Support for our Union Member Educators; Expanded Public Education to include Early Childhood Education.
We support modern infrastructure improvements, which include reliable and affordable internet and cell phone service, better roads, safer dams and bridges, and common-sense renewable energy projects. Improvements to these essential amenities are necessary to facilitate jobs, expanded tax revenues, public education, and transportation for farm products, and e-commerce capabilities for farmers and rural Michiganders.
ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY
The Rural Caucus strongly supports science-based, reasonable and robust environmental and energy policies that promote clean water, clean air, soil conservation and clean, renewable energy. Such policies favor drinking water protection, air and water pollution control, and sustainable farming practices. We recognize that small- and large-scale clean and renewable energy (infrastructure) projects (ex solar farms, wind farms, biomass, stored hydro, etc) will help farmers' and rural Michiganders’ bottom line, create good-paying local jobs, and boost local and county tax revenues. We encourage local and state policies, regulations and legislation that further these goals.
Agriculture is experiencing a moment of intense challenge. Climate change, market disruptions and record low prices are battering the bottom line. The resulting social stress is driving many young people out of the industry. The Rural Caucus believes these problems have reached a crisis point demanding dramatic action. The overseas markets the Trump administration destroyed with a foolish, poorly executed trade war must be revived as soon as possible. Support for universal access to the internet, robust rural health care facilities and modernization of rural school systems are essential to maintaining the communities needed for agricultural production. The long history of increased efficiency on the farm should continue, but also be enhanced to improve system resiliency and soil quality.
Agriculture has a critical role to play on climate adaptation by restoring soil carbon and stabilizing watersheds. Direct payment for stewardship of these natural resources is needed to support rapid adoption. The high level of private, operator ownership of farmland should continue. Off farm investor holding of land, particularly foreign ownership, should be discouraged by excluding these holdings from federal farm bill programs. Farm Bill Programs should be “scale neutral”, serving farms of all sizes. The long neglect of our Land Grant Universities and state extension services should end with significant investment in research, particularly for climate adaptation strategies. The continuing consolidation of both suppliers of inputs to farms and those who purchase commodities or slaughter livestock needs to end with a new wave of anti-trust actions and active efforts to promote new market channels.
The Rural Caucus believes in and advocates for full transparency at all levels of government. This means, at a minimum, local, state, and federal elected officials-and those appointed to key government office positions-be required to file and make public reasonably detailed financial disclosure statements. As one pro-transparency saying goes, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”