Remember: An army marches on its stomach

Barbara Leach, president of My Rural America Action Fund, is a former Iowa farm owner and manager. -promoted by Laura Belin

Much is frightfully wrong in rural America, and 80 percent of Iowa’s counties are right in the thick of it. An unsold crop awaits sale. Sales await the repair of President Donald Trump’s broken trade agreements. Bankers await payments. The flood compounds the troubles.

These troubles affect our economy, consumer food prices, and contribute to the kind of international unrest that is driven by hunger and too often results in military action.

The upcoming Heartland Rural Forum scheduled for March 30 in Storm Lake offers Iowans the chance to kick off a national debate about what could be done to support our fragile family farm economy and our nation’s agricultural sector. Five Democratic presidential candidates (maybe more?) will attend, and there is much for them to talk about.

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Farm Bill failure and the Washington bubble

Barb Kalbach: “Congress panders to corporate ag at the expense of family farms, rural communities, and our food supply.” -promoted by Laura Belin

“This is an evolutionary, not revolutionary Farm Bill,” is the refrain from the Congressional crafters of the recently passed legislation. But this out-of-touch bill locks in a factory farm system that for decades has pushed independent family farmers off their land and left rural residents and our environment worse off.

As our democracy in Washington fails us, important fights at the local and state level are taking on corporate agriculture interests and building a new future for family farmers and rural communities.

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J.D. Scholten reacts to Steve King on "Iowa Press"

Last year’s Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district submitted this commentary in response to U.S. Representative Steve King’s appearance this weekend on Iowa Public Television. -promoted by Laura Belin

One of the things I’m most proud of after nearly beating Representative Steve King in 2018, following years of his skating to re-election, is some measure of accountability for a congressman who has decided his own personal agenda is more important than helping the people of the fourth district.

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The Notorious M.I.G.

Ira Lacher: “If a major party candidate can’t rally registered voters around its candidate, it’s not the voters — it’s the party.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Michael Bloomberg is “actively weighing a president run,” according to The New York Times, and liberal Democrats are having a shit fit.

That’s because the former mayor of New York City, who changed his party from Republican to Democrat in 2018, describes himself as pro-business, anti-recreational pot and pro-stop-and-frisk. He doesn’t want to break up Wall Street, as Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for. He’s also expressed skepticism about some media reports of sexual harassment.

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First thoughts on Elizabeth Warren's prospects in Iowa

In the two weeks it’s taken me to collect my thoughts on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s first swing through Iowa, three four more Democrats launched presidential campaigns (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard). More than a dozen people will seek the Democratic nomination in 2020, and eight of them will have visited Iowa this month alone.

Tracking such a large field presents challenges. Bleeding Heartland has already profiled some candidates and their pitches, including U.S. Representative John Delaney and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. I have posts in progress about most of the others. My intention is to write at least one in-depth piece about every serious contender, for the benefit of caucus-goers who want to research all options. With such a strong field, I expect the majority of Iowa Democrats to be late deciders this cycle, myself included.

I’ve transcribed below extensive portions of Warren’s stump speech and Q&A in Des Moines and Ankeny, and also enclosed audio clips for those who would rather listen than read. First, a few of my takeaways:

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Cannabis: A greener way forward for Iowa

Gwen Hope unpacks the economic and social possibilities that accompany legalizing cannabis, demystifying the oft-maligned psychoactive plant. -promoted by Laura Belin

Since the middle of the 20th century, cannabis has been a hot button issue, particularly since the Nixon Administration began the War on Drugs. Often political, the criminalization and demonization of the plant and substances derived from it has a complex, but living history in the United States.

A microcosm of the country incarnate, this issue is attached to almost every other issue and stance imaginable: from political party to patriotism, convention to community, race to religion, humanity to harm, morality to medicine, and everything in-between was and is attached to cannabis – the United States’s most popular illicit substance.

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