Memo to presidential candidates: Rural Iowa is more than farm sector economics

ISU economist Dave Swenson: Iowa’s rural needs are more complicated, persistent, and acute than the current fortunes of the farm sector. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa currently hosts a horde of Democratic presidential candidates, but from what I can tell thus far, few have any meaningful experiences or insights dealing with rural areas or rural issues.

Historically, visiting candidates paid obligatory lip service to farm sector concerns – ethanol, commodity prices, and regulatory restrictions as examples — and assumed or pretended that took care of most rural issues.

But rural economies are more diverse than most suppose.

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A case for Andrew Yang and his Freedom Dividend

Des Moines resident Jon Muller has worked in public policy analysis for 27 years. -promoted by Laura Belin

While I will be voting for whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president, Andrew Yang stands out among the nearly two dozen candidates.

There are two fundamental questions most Democrats are considering, broadly, and I’m not much different.

1. Which candidate has the best chance of winning in 2020?
2. Which candidate best conforms to my sense of the best direction for this nation?

In my view, Andrew Yang is the answer to both of those questions. Let’s take the second question first.

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Do as I say, not as I've done

Ira Lacher highlights the hypocrisy of New York Times columnist David Brooks. -promoted by Laura Belin

America’s loudest self-apologist is at it again.

Ever since Donald Trump’s election allowed the maggots of Reaganomics to go forth and multiply, New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of the right’s most influential pundits, has been on a flagellation campaign. He has repeatedly chastised the very politiconomic conditions that he and his colleagues brought to bear on Americans, who only wanted to live better than their parents and now find themselves living worse — some considerably so.

And Brooks has done it again with his latest. In Tuesday’s Times, Brooks devotes his latest column to a scholarly paper which says, in effect, that the same people who bought into Republicanism are most suffering its ill-effects.

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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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