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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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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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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Iowa’s 2019 economic outlook: The good, bad, and ugly

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson reviews the evidence that President Donald Trump’s trade policy is “harming a large number of Iowans, limiting the state’s potential prosperity.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State address had precious little to say about Iowa’s economy, which is odd because that is something her predecessor and mentor always liked to crow about. She acknowledged that there are challenges for rural areas and that there are ongoing initiatives to promote training and placement of workers, but really said nothing about how the Hawkeye state is performing economically.

There’s plenty to say. Some of it good, some bad, and given the impacts of the President Donald Trump’s trade disputes, lots of ugly.

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