The White House issued a fact sheet explaining how President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan will support children, teachers and working families in rural America:
President Biden knows a strong middle-class is the backbone of America and that rural and tribal communities are essential to the economic growth of our country. Rural communities require targeted investments that meet the needs of their children and families, along with workforce development for those providing childcare and education. The American Families Plan represents a generation-defining investment in rural America, and a commitment to grow the middle-class and expand the benefits of economic growth to all Americans. All told, by extending and building upon the provisions of the American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan would cut the rural poverty rate by more than 21 percent and the rural child poverty rate by 50 percent, relative to the projected poverty rate for 2022.
UNIVERSAL PRE-SCHOOL FOR 3- AND 4-YEAR OLDS
Low population density, physical isolation, and broad spatial distribution make access to preschool more challenging for low-income families in rural areas. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Provide free universal pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefitting 5 million children. This historic investment in America’s future will first prioritize high-need areas and enable communities and families to choose the settings that work best for them, whether that’s a preschool classroom in a public school, a center, or a Head Start program. The President’s plan will invest in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or other credential that supports their work as an educator or their work to become an early childhood educator. And educators will receive job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work. All employees in participating Pre-K programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation and benefits similar to elementary school teachers.
FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND OTHER POSTSECONDARY INVESTMENTS
There are approximately 250 rural community colleges across the U.S., with an even greater number of community colleges that serve a primarily rural student population. Colleges and universities are important anchor institutions in rural communities, providing jobs to residents, attracting businesses, and boosting local economies.
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Provide two years of free community college so that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college without paying tuition and fees.
Increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400 to provide additional assistance to low-income students and also allow DREAMers to access the grant.
Provide grants to increase college retention and completion, allowing states, territories, and Tribes to support the adoption and expansion of evidence-based practices and promising solutions that help students complete their degrees.
Increase funding to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and the students they serve. This will provide two years of subsidized tuition, as well as funding to support institutional development and the strengthening of the health care workforce, which will benefit rural areas where the need for physicians, nurses, and other providers continues to limit access to care.
Education and Preparation for Teachers
More than 9 million students—nearly one in five students—attend a rural school in the U.S. But these schools face challenges in hiring and retaining teachers, particularly in special education and specialized instruction.
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for teachers of color. President Biden is calling on Congress to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree and expand it to early childhood educators. The President’s plan would also invest $3.2 billion to cultivate and recruit teachers from the communities that schools serve, provide year-long, paid residency programs, and invest in teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.
Support the development of special education teachers. There has been a 17 percent decline in the number of special educators over the last decade. Additionally, while only about half of the students receiving special education services are white, approximately 82 percent of special education teachers are white. The American Families Plan will invest $900 million in personnel preparation funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), funding pathways to additional certifications and strengthening existing teacher preparation programs for special educators.
Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. President Biden is calling on Congress to create a new fund to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. This fund will support over 100,000 educators, with priority for public school teachers with at least two years of experience at schools with a significant number of low-income students or significant teacher shortages.
Invest in educator leadership. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $2 billion in programs that leverage teachers as leaders to multiply their impact within their school, such as high-quality mentoring programs that leverage current teachers as mentors for new teachers, which improve student outcomes and increase teacher retention rates while keeping great teachers in the classroom.
Lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care is making it hard for parents to work and provide for their families. Many rural families have to go without care, and without sufficient demand, it can be challenging for centers to afford to operate. Over half of rural families live in a child care desert, meaning there are few or no child care options. In particular, rural families disproportionately lack access to child care centers serving infants and toddlers.
The American Families Plan builds on investments in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and will further expand access to high-quality child care in rural areas.
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Make child care more affordable. Families will pay only a portion of their income on child care based on a sliding scale. For the most-hard pressed working families, child care costs for their young children would be fully covered and families earning up to 1.5 times their state median income will spend no more than 7% of their income on child care for young children.
Ensure this child care is high quality. The American Families plan will ensure child care providers, including centers and home-based providers, receive funding to provide the true cost of quality early childhood education—including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities.
Invest in the care workforce across rural America. Early childhood educators are among the most underpaid workers in the country and nearly half rely on public income support programs. The typical child care worker earned $12.24 per hour in 2020—while receiving few, if any, benefits, leading to high turnover and lower quality of care. The American Families Plan will ensure a $15 minimum wage for early childhood educators. Those with comparable qualifications to elementary school teachers will receive comparable compensation and benefits. And, the American Families Plan will ensure educators receive job-embedded coaching and professional development, along with additional training opportunities.
Paid family and medical leave supports workers and families and is a critical investment in the strength and equity of our economy. However, many rural workers lack access to paid family and medical leave programs, particularly low-wage workers. According to one nation-wide survey, over fifty percent of non-metro (including rural) workers said they would very likely face hardship if they had to take a few months of unpaid time off work, compared to 40 percent of metro area workers. Furthermore, many small rural businesses struggle to compete for and retain talent compared to urban areas. These businesses often cannot afford to provide workplace supports like paid family and medical leave. Rural areas are also more likely to have older populations, increasing the need for both medical and caregiving leave. One study found that California’s paid leave program accounted for an 11-percent relative decline in elderly nursing home usage, saving costs for both the state and families.
President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. The program will ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one’s military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. The program will provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80 percent for the lowest wage workers. We estimate this program will cost $225 billion over a decade.
With higher child poverty rates and longer distances to grocery stores, accessing nutritious food can be challenging for families in rural areas. Eighty-six percent of counties with high child food insecurity are rural, and children in rural areas are 25 percent more likely to be obese than those in urban areas. To foster positive long-term health outcomes through nutrition security, President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. The Summer EBT Demonstrations help low-income families with children eligible for free- and reduced-price meals during the school year purchase food during the summer. The American Families Plan builds on the American Rescue Plan’s support for Summer Pandemic-EBT by making the successful program permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free- and reduced-price meals. Research shows that this program decreases food insecurity among children and leads to positive changes in nutritional outcomes.
Expand school meal programs. Currently, just 70 percent of eligible schools have adopted Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows high-poverty schools to provide meals free of charge to all of their students—breaking down barriers for students who may be eligible for school meals but may not apply for them due to stigma or not fully understanding the application process. The President’s plan will allow more schools in high poverty districts to offer meals free of charge to all of their students by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through CEP. Additionally, the plan will target elementary schools by lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school meals based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data. This will especially help rural schools, which often have limited administrative capacity for food purchasing and accounting.
Launch a healthy foods incentive demonstration to further improve the nutrition standards of school meals and support the development of healthy lifestyles throughout the school environment.
Tax Cuts for America’s Families and Workers
While the American Rescue Plan provided meaningful relief to hundreds of millions of Americans, that was just a first step. Now is the time to build back better, to help families and workers who for too long have felt the squeeze of stagnating wages and an ever-increasing cost-of-living. Direct assistance to families in the form of tax credits paid on a regular basis lifts children and families out of poverty, makes it easier for families to make ends meet, and boosts the academic and economic performance of children over time. President Biden’s American Families Plan will:
Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan. Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and Americans facing illness should never have to worry about how they are going to pay for their treatment. No one should face a choice between buying life-saving medications or putting food on the table. President Biden has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance. The American Families Plan will build on the American Rescue Plan and continue our work to make health care more affordable. The biggest improvement in health care affordability since the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan provided two years of lower health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own. With those changes, more than three in four uninsured people living in rural areas are now eligible for low-cost health care, and more than four in five current HealthCare.gov enrollees in rural counties are eligible for low-cost health care. The American Families Plan will make a $200 billion investment to make those premium reductions permanent. As a result, nine million people will save hundreds of dollars per year on their premiums, and four million uninsured people will gain coverage. The Families Plan will also invest in maternal health and support the families of veterans receiving health care services.
Extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the CTC permanently fully refundable. Rural child poverty rates are higher than the national average, and more than 200 rural counties qualify as “persistent-poverty counties,” meaning they have experienced poverty rates of 20 percent or higher for at least 30 years. The President is calling for extending the Child Tax Credit expansion first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which increases the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for 6-year-olds and above and $3,600 per child for children under 6. It also makes 17-year-olds eligible for the first time and makes the credit fully refundable, meaning that the nearly half of low-income rural families that historically did not qualify for the full credit because they earned too little, can now receive the same credit as middle-income families. If extended, this would be the single largest contributor to this plan’s historic impact of lifting a projected 620,000 children in non-metro areas out of poverty in 2022 and cutting rural child poverty in half.
Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. To help even more families, President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) enacted in the American Rescue Plan. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Making the American Rescue Plan expansion of CDCTC permanent will also ensure the credit will continue to be fully refundable, making it more equitable by allowing low-income working families to receive the full value of the credit towards their eligible child care expenses regardless of how much they owe in taxes.
Make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for childless workers permanent. President Biden believes our tax code should reward work and not wealth. And that means rewarding people who work hard every day at modest wages to provide their communities with essential services. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers treated this way. The American Rescue Plan addressed this problem by roughly tripling the EITC for childless workers, benefitting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her credit to more than $1,100, EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty. The President is calling on Congress to make this expansion permanent. All told, the expansion will directly benefit more than one in five rural workers without children.
To view this fact sheet in your browser, click here.
vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has
produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues.Senator
Elizabeth Warren details a plan for Rural America that “will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have
financial security and the freedom to do what they do best. Farmers of all
backgrounds will finally have the economic freedom to pursue diverse,
sustainable farming — and get paid up front for doing so. Americans will have
a steady and affordable supply of food. Kids in rural communities will have
healthy lunches grown in their backyards and packaged at local food hubs run by
small town entrepreneurs. Taxpayers won’t pay twice — once at the grocery
store and once through their taxes — for overproduced commodities. We will
replenish our soil and our water to chart a path towards a climate solution and
achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.”Here are the details, as provided by
the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Elizabeth Warren released her plan to invest in rural America and build a new farm economy. Her plan includes creating a public option for broadband and ending government giveaways for private internet service providers, investing in rural health care, and taking strong anti-trust action against hospital mergers that threaten access to basic services. She outlines how her plans for universal child care and high-quality early education, student debt cancellation, building and rehabilitating affordable housing, and tackling the opioid crisis will restore opportunity in rural America.
Warren also lays out how she will replace the government’s failed approach to the farm economy and address our climate crisis head-on by paying farmers for sustainable farming practices that can help us fight climate change.
Warren released her plan before kicking of a 4-day tour across Iowa. Read more about her plan to invest in rural America here. Read more about her plan to build a new farm economy here.
My Plan to Invest in Rural America
A strong America requires a strong rural America. Rural communities are home to 60 million people, hundreds of tribal nations, and a growing number of new immigrants who account for 37% of rural population growth. These communities feed our nation. And they are leading the country in sustainable energy, generating 99% of America’s wind energy and pioneering efforts to harness solar energy.
But both corporate America and leaders in Washington have turned their backs on the people living in our rural communities and prioritized the interests of giant companies and Wall Street instead. Burdened by student debt, young people are leaving rural communities to find jobs elsewhere. Big broadband companies exclude entire communities – especially tribal communities and rural communities of color – from access to high-speed Internet. Rural communities are losing access to quality health care. Climate change – from more severe floods to extreme heat – is changing the rural way of life. And farmers are forced to compete with giant agribusinesses on an uneven playing field.
Our failure to invest in rural areas is holding back millions of families, weakening our economy, and undermining our efforts to combat climate change. It’s time to fix this.
Protecting Access to Health Care in Rural Communities
Health care is a human right. But people can’t fully exercise that right in communities lacking access to basic services like primary, emergency, and maternity care. That is what’s happening across rural America, where the prevalence of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes is higher, as is the risk of dying from the leading causes of death in the country compared to urban areas. Barriers to coverage, disappearing health facilities, and a shortage of health professionals are denying rural communities the high-quality health care they deserve.
Insurance coverage continues to remain out of reach for many people living in rural communities – and even for those with coverage, rural America is quickly becoming a medical desert. In less than a decade, 112 rural hospitals have closed, with hundreds more teetering on the edge. Those that do remain open operate on razor-thin margins from uncompensated care, lower patient volume, and insufficient reimbursement.
That’s why I support Medicare for All, so that every person will have access to affordable care no matter where they live. That means access to primary care and lower health care costs for patients – and less uncompensated care for hospitals, helping hospitals stay afloat. We also need to increase reimbursement rates for rural hospitals and alleviate unnecessary restrictions that make it difficult for them to serve their communities. Medicare already has special designations available to rural hospitals, but they must be updated to match the reality of rural areas. I will create a new designation that reimburses rural hospitals at a higher rate, relieves distance requirements, and offers flexibility of services by assessing the needs of their communities.
But we can’t stop there. Higher rates of consolidation for both for-profit and non-profit hospitals are making it harder to access care. And yet, many hospitals can evade federal antitrust enforcement either because the value of the merger is too small to trigger mandatory review or because the Federal Trade Commission’s purview over non-profit hospitals is constrained. Vertical integration is also increasing as more hospitals acquire physician practices, and some states have deliberately sheltered hospitals from federal antitrust action. I will boost the federal government’s oversight of mergers and anti-competitive behavior to make sure that health care companies play by the rules and put the needs of patients first.
As President, I will direct the FTC to block all future mergers between hospitals unless the merging companies can show that the newly-merged entity will maintain or improve access to care. If a proposed merger helps maintain or improve access to health care, that’s fine. But when it is a first step to closing hospitals or slashing basic services, then a Warren administration will block it.
I’ll also put forward a set of reforms to strengthen FTC oversight over health care organizations, including establishing new federal regulations and guidance to require that all mergers involving health care centers be reported to the FTC. I’ll authorize the FTC to conduct reviews of non-profit hospitals for anti-competitive behavior, update Department of Justice guidance on vertical mergers, and crack down on vertically integrated health care companies that are raising costs without improving the quality of care. And I’ll work with states to repeal Certificate of Public Advantage, or COPA, statutes that shield health care organizations from federal antitrust review and can leadto the creation of large monopolies with little to no oversight.
We also have a responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in services or are otherwise medically underserved can better meet the needs of their communities. That’s why I will increase funding for Community Health Centers by 15 percent per year over the next five years. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital fund to support a menu of options for improving access to care in health professional shortage areas, including: constructing a new facility like a Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic; establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine programs.
Rural communities have been particularly impacted by the opioid epidemic, with the rate of opioid overdose deaths having been higher there than in urban areas in recent years. I’m pushing for $100 billion over 10 years to end the opioid crisis, including $2.7 billion for the hardest-hit counties and cities and $800 million in direct funding for tribal governments and organizations. Funding can be used for prevention and early intervention services at federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics and to train health professionals on treating substance use disorders in rural and other medically underserved areas.
To ensure access to quality health services, we must also close the health care workforce gaps across rural America. Nearly 60% of Health Professional Shortage Areas – those lacking sufficient primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, EMTs, and home health aides – are in rural regions. More than 3,600 additional doctors are needed to close the rural physician workforce deficit today, but Congressionally-imposed caps on medical residencies and unstable funding of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) have made this gap nearly impossible to close. What’s more, this shortage is rapidly increasing as rural physicians near retirement and fewerincoming medical students plan to practice in rural areas.
As President, I will make sure we expand our health care workforce by investing more resources in building the pipeline of medical professionals in rural areas. This starts by dramatically scaling up apprenticeship programs as proposed in my Economic Patriotism plan to support partnerships between unions, high schools, community colleges, and a wide array of health care professionals to build a health care workforce that is rooted in the community. I’ll lift the cap on residency placements by 15,000 – and because residents are more likely to practice where they train, I’ll target half of new placements in medically-underserved areas such as rural residency programs, residency programs with Rural Training Track programs, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), while working with rural programs to ensure that they can take full advantage of these increases. I’ll also significantly expand the NHSC loan repayment program to $15 billion and the IHS loan repayment program to $1 billion over the next 10 years to cover full loan repayment for 5 years of service and to increase the number of health professionals serving rural and Native American communities.
Building Economic Security in Rural America
My plan doesn’t stop at health care. Every American is entitled to some basic financial security, no matter where they live. But people living in rural communities face challenges that can threaten that security. My plans are designed to address these challenges and allow people in rural communities to thrive economically.
Take child care. Today, a majority of rural communities lack sufficient access to child care. On average, rural families spend more of their incomes on child care than families in urban areas. My plan for Universal Child Care will provide access to high-quality child care in every community that is free for millions and affordable for everyone. The federal government will also work closely with local providers and tribal governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in every community – including home-based child care services, which rural families are more likely to use.
Rural communities also face unique housing challenges. More than 150 rural counties have a severe-need for affordable rental housing and 38% of rural counties have moderately-severe rental housing needs. Home values in rural areas have also been slower to recover from the financial crisis. My housing planinvests $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural communities and provides an additional $2 billion to help homeowners with underwater mortgages still struggling to recover from the financial crisis. It also invests $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard housing have reached crisis levels.
And the student debt crisis hits rural areas particularly hard. In part because of huge student debt burdens, young adults are leaving rural communities for jobs in cities. Just 52% of rural student loan borrowers remain in a rural area, compared to 66% of those who did not take out loans – and those with more debt are more likely to leave. My plan to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt will mean that recent graduates won’t need to flock to urban centers to find jobs that will help them pay down these loans. And my plan to provide universal free technical, two-year, and four-year public college will make sure that no student is ever put in this situation again. We need to make it possible for students to see rural communities as places of opportunity where they can live, work, and build a future for themselves.
A Public Option for Broadband
One of the best tools for unlocking economic opportunity and advances in health care, like telemedicine, is access to reliable, high-speed Internet. In the twenty-first century, every home should have access to this technology – but we’re not even close to that today. According to the FCC, in 2017 26.4% of people living in rural areas and 32.1% of people living on tribal lands did not have access to minimum speed broadband (25 Mbps/ 3 Mbps), compared to 1.7% in urban areas. And given the notorious loopholes in FCC reporting requirements, these figures underestimate the gap.
At the same time, while urban areas may be more likely to have access to fiber broadband, many residents can’t afford to connect to it. Nearly 27% of households in Detroit and Cleveland had no Internet access in 2017, and households with incomes below $35,000 comprise 60% of households without broadband access, despite making up just 31% of the national population.
We’ve faced this kind of problem before. Prior to the late 1930s, private electric companies passed over rural communities they felt offered minimal profit opportunities, leaving the families living there literally in the dark. Just like the electric companies eighty years ago, today’s biggest internet service providers (ISPs) have left large parts of the country unserved or dramatically underserved.
Not only that, they have deliberately restricted competition, kept prices high, and used their armies of lobbyists to convince state legislatures to ban municipalities from building their own public networks. Meanwhile, the federal government has shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars to private ISPs in an effort to expand broadband to remote areas, but those providers have done the bare minimum with these resources – offering internet speeds well below the FCC minimum.
This ends when I’m President. I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford. That means publicly-owned and operated networks – and no giant ISPs running away with taxpayer dollars. My plan will:
Make it clear in federal statute that municipalities have
the right to build their own broadband networks. Many small towns and
rural areas have turned to
municipal networks to provide broadband access in places that the private
market has failed to serve – but today, as many as 26 states have
passed laws hindering or banning municipalities from building their own
broadband infrastructure to protect the interests of giant telecom companies.
We will preempt these laws and return this power to local governments.
Create an Office of Broadband Access in my Department of Economic Development that will manage a new $85 billion federal grant program to massively expand broadband access across the country. Under my plan, only electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profit organizations, tribes, cities, counties, and other state subdivisions will be eligible for grants from this fund – and all grants will be used to build the fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition.
The federal government will pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants. In exchange, applicants will be required to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area. Applicants will have to offer at least one plan with 100 Mbps/ 100 Mbps speeds and one discount internet plan for low-income customers with a prepaid feature or a low monthly rate.
Of these funds, $5 billion will be set aside specifically for 100% federal grants to tribal nations to expand broadband access on Native American lands. In addition to necessary “last mile” infrastructure, tribes will be able to apply for funds to build the missing 8,000 miles of middle mile fiber on tribal lands.
Appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality. I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality, regulatinginternet service providers as “common carriers” and maintaining open access to the Internet.And I will require all telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption, including signing into law and building on the Tribal Connect Act, so that we can work toward every tribal library having broadband access.
Bolster the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy. This office holds trainings, technical assistance, and consultations for Indian Country. Providing it with dedicated, increased funding to expand its capacity will help close the digital divide.
Improve the accuracy of broadband maps. Weak FCC oversight has allowed ISPs to greatly exaggerate how many households they serve and has given ISPs added fuel to downplay their failures and protect themselves from regulation. To provide universal broadband access and crack down on anti-competitive behaviors, the government has to know how extensive the problems are. I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will require ISPs to report service and speeds down to the household level, as well as aggregate pricing data, and work with community stakeholders – including tribal nations – to make sure we get this process right. Then, we will make these data available to the public and conduct regular audits to ensure accurate reporting.
Prohibit the range of sneaky maneuvers giant private providers use to unfairly squeeze out competition, hold governments hostage, and drive up prices. It’s time to crack down on all the anti-competitive behaviors that giant ISPs have used to steamroll the competition. We will return control of utility poles and conduits to cities, prohibit landlords from making side deals with private ISPs to limit choices in their properties, and ban companies from limiting access to wires inside buildings. We will make sure that all new buildings are fiber-ready so that any network can deliver service there, and we will also enact “Dig Once” policies to require that conduit is laid anytime the ground is opened for a public infrastructure project.
Ensure every person has the skills to fully participate
in our online economy. Even when there’s access to broadband internet
– and even when it’s available at an affordable price – people may still not
take advantage of it because they don’t know how to use it. That’s why I will
work to pass the Digital Equity Act,
which invests $2.5 billion over ten years to help states develop digital equity
plans and launch digital inclusion projects.
Creating and Defending Jobs in Rural America
Expanding broadband is just the first step to boosting economic opportunity in
rural communities. We need to do more to bring high-quality jobs back to rural
areas and small towns and negotiate trade agreements that keep jobs in the U.S.
– and don’t ship them overseas. That’s why I’ve committed to creating a National Jobs Strategy focused
specifically on regional economies and trends that disproportionately affect
rural areas and small cities. And why I will spend $2 trillion in green research,
manufacturing, and exporting to create more than a million new
jobs, reversing the manufacturing losses that many rural communities have
experienced over the last two decades.
I’ve also called for a $400 billion commitment in clean energy research and
development – funding that will go to land grant universities, rural
areas, and areas that have seen the worst job losses in recent years. I’ll
dramatically scale up worker training programs, spending $20 billion on
apprenticeships and instituting new sectoral training programs to boost job
opportunities for people across Rural America.
Immigration is also revitalizing local
economies and reversing population
decline in a number of rural communities. I’ve called for expanding legal
immigration – done the right way and consistent with our principles – to grow
our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. My immigration plan
will raise wages for everyone and make sure that businesses won’t be able to
get away with dirty tricks that undercut pay.
And I will build a new approach to
our trade policy to make sure that the new, high-quality jobs
we create stay right here in America. As part of my new plan, I’ll
fundamentally change our negotiation process so that rural communities are
explicitly represented at the table, and use our leverage to demand more for
workers and farmers by raising standards worldwide.
Bolstering Small and Local Business
Small businesses are critical to the economic vitality of rural communities,
but people in rural communities face challenges accessing capital and financial
services to start, grow, and operate their businesses. The number of rural counties
without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994,
and 86 new rural
banking deserts have appeared since 2008, leaving these communities with no
banking services within 10 miles. That’s why I’ve proposed allowing the
U.S. Postal Service to partner with local community banks and
credit unions to provide access to low-cost, basic banking services online and
at post offices.
What’s more, 25% of new rural
banking deserts have been in communities of color. Credit and small loans are
critical to starting and growing a small business, but longer distances between
a borrower and their bank are associated with more credit denials and higher interest rates on
loans. That’s why I will establish a $7 billion
fund to close the gap in startup capital for entrepreneurs of
color, which will support 100,000 new minority-owned businesses, provide over a
million new jobs, and further boost economic development in rural areas.
Private equity firms have further harmed local businesses, buying up everything
from mobile home parks to hospitals to nursing homes to local newspapers,
loading them up with debt, sucking them dry, and leaving workers to pick up the
pieces. I’ll rein in Wall
Street to hold private equity firms accountable and keep them
from destroying businesses that bring economic opportunity – and jobs – to
small towns and rural communities across the country. It’s time to
prioritize the long-term interests of American workers, not the short-term
interests of big financial institutions.
Building a New Farm Economy
Rural America is also the home of our nation’s agriculture
sector, but today, farmers are getting squeezed by giant agribusinesses that
are gobbling up more land and driving down prices. In 1935, there were 6.8 million farms in
the United States – but in 2017, there were just above 2 million. What’s more,
as the number of farms has decreased, the size of each remaining farm has
dramatically grown – from an average of 155 acres per farm in 1935 to an average
of 444 acres per farm
today. Meanwhile, the farmer’s share of the food dollar has plummeted to
just 14.6 cents in 2017
– the lowest number since
the USDA began reporting this figure in 1993.
That’s why I’ve pledged to
address consolidation in the agriculture sector by reviewing – and reversing –
anti-competitive mergers and breaking up big agribusinesses that have become
vertically integrated. I’ll also support a national right to repair law for
farmers, reform country-of-origin labeling, and restrict foreign ownership of
American agriculture companies and farmland.
And I’ll take it one step further – charting a new farm economy that
replaces our government’s failed approach with one that guarantees farmers a
fair price and protects our environment.
The cost of each and every one of these investments is fully offset by my plans
to make the ultra-wealthy and large corporations pay more in taxes. Those plans
include my annual two-cent wealth tax on
fortunes over $50 million and my plan to ensure
that very large and profitable American corporations can’t get away with paying
zero taxes. And the new investments I’m announcing today for universal
broadband access and health care options in rural areas can be offset by
changing the tax laws that encourage companies to merge and reduce
I want Washington to work for communities all over this country. From expanding
access to broadband to boosting investment in quality jobs, together we can
make big, structural change to create new opportunities all across rural
A New Farm Economy
Consolidation in the agriculture sector is leaving America’s family farmers
with lower prices
and fewer choices.
Giant corporations use their market share to squeeze farmers
from both sides. Farmers are pressured into taking on huge debts to pay the
high prices that a small number of large suppliers charge them for inputs like seeds and
fertilizer. Then, farmers are at the whim of a market that is controlled
by meatpackers and grain traders that
can pay them low prices for the
commodities they produce — prices that often don’t cover all the
money farmers had to spend in the first place.
All of this causes tremendous overproduction of
commodities. In the face of lower and lower
prices in the market, farmers are left to produce more to try and
break even. But this just causes prices to go down even further, benefiting the
huge corporations looking to buy goods on the cheap and leaving farmers dependent on the
government to backfill their costs.
As a consequence, the agriculture sector has become one of the largestpolluters in our
economy. As farmers are pressured to plant fence row to fence row and
use more fertilizer in search of a higher yield, rural communities lose their
soil and water and the environment suffers.
Much of this situation is the direct result of government policy. Our current
system of subsidies is supposed to make up
the difference between the low prices farmers get on the market and what they
have to pay to grow food. But instead it lets big corporations at the top of
the supply chain get away with paying artificially low costs while farmers
struggle and taxpayers make up the difference. It encourages overproduction by
guaranteeing revenue regardlessof prices or
environmental conditions. And it feeds climate change.
Farmers are stewards of the land, and they know this system of overproduction
is unsustainable — but without a change in incentives, they have no other
To fix this problem, we need big, structural change. That’s why I’m calling for
a complete overhaul of our failed approach to the farm economy. Instead
of subsidizing industrial agriculture and starving farmers and rural
communities, my new approach will guarantee farmers a fair price, reduce
overproduction, and pay farmers for environmental conservation.
By making this shift, we can raise farm incomes and reduce taxpayer
expenditures. We can break the stranglehold that giant agribusinesses have over
our farm economy, and expand economic opportunities for small- and medium-sized
farmers, family farmers, women farmers, and farmers of color. We can also
provide consumers with affordable, high-quality, and often local food, while
protecting our land and water and combating the existential threat of climate
Replacing our government’s failed approach to the farm economy
Our agriculture markets are badly broken. American farmers spend their days
toiling over their crops, but at sale time, more than half report
negative income from their farming activity. In 2018, the median income farmers
made from farming activity before federal subsidies was negative $1,316. Why?
Because the market is paying farmers far less than what it costs them to
produce their goods.
And it gets worse. Farm subsidies that are necessary to keep farms afloat in
this market function as an incentive to overproduce by
guaranteeing payments only for certain commodities and encouraging farming
on marginal land. This squeezes small farmers, undermines sustainable farming
for the long-term, and damages our environment.
It hasn’t always been this way. During the New Deal, FDR’s administration
recognized the critical role farmers would play in getting our country out of
the Great Depression. His administration set up a system
that guaranteed farmers fair prices, tackled overproduction, and reversed environmental
degradation. And it worked: for decades, this system
gave farmers the security they needed to thrive, kept consumer prices stable,
and helped restore our country’s farmland.
But starting in the 1970s, giant agribusinessesconvinced the Nixon
Administration to change the system. Corporations called it “deregulating” the
farm economy, but of course, this didn’t actually mean reducing government
intervention. It just meant shifting that intervention from advancing the
interests of farmers, consumers, and the environment to protecting the bottom
line of giant agriculture corporations.
Now, the Department of Agriculture budgets over $10 billion each
year on post-sale subsidies that are supposed to make up for the low prices
that big corporations and livestock giants pay farmers on the market.
Meanwhile, Big Ag pockets the profit:
one study shows
industrial livestock giants, for example, have saved $35 billion over twenty
years from buying feed below the cost of production.
We need a new approach that uses taxpayer money more wisely, provides stable
access to food, and accounts for the complexities of the agriculture
markets. Just like workers need a living wage, farmers need a fair price — one
that covers the costs they have to pay to produce their goods. We need to
replace our failed system with a tried-and-true method that guarantees farmers
that fair price and ends overproduction. Building on the successful model of
the New Deal, my plan calls for a new supply management program — which studies show
would be billions cheaper for
taxpayers than our current subsidy program, yet provide farm incomes that
Here’s how it will work. First, we guarantee farmers a price at their cost of
production. To do that, the government would offer farmers a non-recourse loan
that covers most of their costs of production — essentially, an offer to buy
their products at cost if a farmer can’t get a better price from a private
purchaser on the market before the end of the loan period. Farmers can either
repay the loan by selling their products or they can forfeit the products they
used as collateral for the loan at the end of the loan period.
If the farmer does not sell those products to a private buyer during that time
period, then the government will store the products in reserves. As supply
comes off the market as a result, prices will rise. And if prices rise beyond a
certain point, the government can release the supply from the reserves back
onto the market, stabilizing prices once again. This mechanism guarantees
farmers a fair price at a far lower cost than the current subsidy system.
In addition, to address overproduction, farmers will have the option of bidding
acres of land currently used to produce commodities into conservation programs.
USDA will offer attractive prices based on the environmental benefit that
repurposing the land towards conservation programs would provide. This will
provide farmers with the choice — and revenue — to diversify their farms,
rather than face mounting pressure to produce more and more of the same.
This approach has advantages beyond guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their
goods. It gives us the tools to stabilize farm income where farmers aren’t
getting prices at the cost of production, like commodity crops and dairy. It enhances
our foodsecurity by giving
the government access to reserves if needed — a particularly important consideration
as climate change continues to disruptfoodproduction. It addresses our
overproduction problem and helps reduce environmental
damage. And it keeps consumer prices relatively stable.
It would also save taxpayers billions. Because a supply management
program only pays for the
amount of commodities that it takes off of the market, it would substantially
reduce costs for taxpayers who, in the current subsidy approach, can end up
paying for every single bushel and bale that farmers grow.
Paying farmers to fight climate change
To transition to a sustainable farm economy, we also need to diversify our
agriculture sector. As President, I will lead a full-out effort to
decarbonize the agricultural sector by investing in our farmers and giving them
the tools, research, and training they need to transform the sector — so that
we can achieve the objectives of the Green New Deal to reach net-zero emissions
This begins with paying farmers for embracing techniques that promote a
sustainable future for all of us. Farmers are already adopting climate-friendly
practices — including proven and profitable techniques
like cover crops. But today,
there are far more farmers who
want to join land conservation programs than there are funds available to
support them. That’s because we have continually underfunded a
tried-and-true program — the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
— that provides funding for farmers eager to transition to sustainable
practices, and that delivers substantial returns to
My plan will make it economically feasible for farmers to be part of the
climate change solution by increasing CSP’s payments for sustainable farming
practices from around $1 billion today to
$15 billion annually – and expanding the types of practices eligible for
compensation – so that every farmer who wants to use their land to fight
climate change can do so. This will put our future investment in
conservation above the level we currently
fund commodity programs. And I will support staff at USDA to empower them in
the fight against climate change, from scientists in Washington all the
way down to the county-level offices tailoring solutions to challenges in their
Research and innovation are also essential in supporting a transition to
sustainable farming. I will dedicate resources from the $400 billion
R&D commitment in my Green
Manufacturing Plan towards innovations for
decarbonizing the agriculture sector, including a farmer-led Innovation Fund
that farmers can apply to use towards pioneering new methods of sustainable
farming, like agroforestry.
Our land grant universities also have a critical role to play – but first, we
need to reclaim our land grant universities from Big Ag and restore
them to their core purpose of supporting our family farmers. My
Administration will reinvest inour
land grant universities and focus their agricultural efforts in part on
evaluating farmers’ ideas to decarbonize the agricultural sector and training a
new generation of farmers.
Take on Big Ag to level the playing field for family farmers
We also must take on Big Ag head on if we want to create a new farm economy.
When Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture told farmers to “get big or get out,”
he paved the way for
the giant agribusinesses that have eroded America’s
rural communities and turned the
agricultural sector into one of the largestpolluters, all
while making huge profits.
That ends now. I will use every tool at my disposal to level the playing field
for family farmers and hold agribusinesses accountable for the damage they’ve
wrought on our farmland.
Strengthen rules and enforcement under the Packers and
Stockyards Act.In 1921, Congress passed the Packers & Stockyards Act (P&S
Act) to protect independent farmers. But Trump has eliminated Grain
Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — the office
responsible for upholding the
P&S Act — as an independent office. My administration will restore
GIPSA and make it easier for farmers to bring suits against unfair practices —
including by clarifying that they do not have to prove harm across the entire
sector to bring a claim.
Make sure programs benefit independent family farmers,
not the rich and powerful. Agribusinesses exploit loopholes to put
taxpayer dollars that should be going towards family farmers into their own
pockets instead. The Trump administration has handed over billions more into
the pockets of the wealthiest through trade war bailouts. On average, the top 1% of
recipients received over $180,000, and the bottom 80% percent received less
than $5,000. — all without Congressional authorization. I will prevent
huge factory farms from accessing funds intended to benefit family farmers,
like those for payment limitations and for programs like EQIP, and ban
companies that violate labor and environmental standards from accessing funds,
Hold Big Ag accountable for environmental abuses. Agribusinesses
are the likely culprits for
polluting hundreds of thousands of miles of rivers and streams and causing dead
zones in our waters, including in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. I
will make agribusinesses pay the full costs of the
environmental damage they wreak by closing the loopholes that
CAFOs use to get away with polluting and beefing up enforcement of the Clean
Air and Clean Water Acts against them, including by working with state and
Build out local and regional food systems that support rural farmers and their communities
Because giant agribusinesses control entire supply chains, many small farmers today must send their products to huge packaging and distribution centers that are hundreds of miles away from their farms and from the end consumer. This deprives rural communities from access to produce, contributing to food desertsand obesity.
I will provide farmers and rural communities with the resources they need to build thriving local and regional food systems so that every community has access to healthy food — and the billions in economic opportunities that come with it.
I will use the full power of federal and state procurement to ensure access to local, sustainable produce in all communities. My administration will expand the “Farm-to-School” program a hundredfold and turn it into a billion-dollar “Farm to People” program in which all federally-supported public institutions — including military bases and hospitals — will partner with local, independent farmers to provide fresh, local food.
To meet this additional demand, farmers will need access to local and regional supply chain infrastructure. USDA’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) currently invests $50M a year in local infrastructure-building projects — which experts estimate falls far short of meeting the substantialdemand. I will increase LAMP’s funding ten-fold, investing $500M a year over the next decade to fund food hubs, distribution centers, and points-of-sale that our rural and small town communities can use.
Create opportunities for diverse and beginning farmers
Farmers of color have experienced a longhistory of discrimination, some of it at the hands of the federal government. From 1910 to 1997, black farmers were stripped of 90% of black-owned farmland. They received a mere fraction of the value of the land they lost — a staggering loss of wealth that is a major contributor to the racial wealth gap. My plan will end the policies that have perpetuated this discrimination and help rural families of color build wealth and sustainable livelihoods.
Addressing the systematic dispossession of land in communities of color, including Black farmers and Native American communities. Over the past century, Black farmers were stripped of 90% of black-owned farmland and received a mere fraction of the value of the land they lost – largely because they held the land as “heirs’ property,” an unstable and much-exploited form of ownership. I will establish programs to assist heirs’ property owners and make sure they retain access to their land, including building on successes in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow heirs’ property owners to present additional types of documentation to not only access USDA programs, but also other federal programs in FEMA and HUD. I will also fully fund the relending programenacted in the 2018 Farm Bill to expand support services for farmers of color, including legal and technical assistance to help farmers hold on to their land – and prioritize lending organizations operating in states that have enacted model legislation that protects heirs’ property ownership.
Native American communities have also experienced challenges related to fractionated land ownership. This problem was caused by a destructive federal policy from the late 1800s that allotted tribal lands held in common to individual tribal members and sold additional tribal lands to non-Native settlers and commercial interests. This policy eventually led to roughly two-thirds of all reservation lands being taken from tribes without compensation. Several generations later, individual tribal allotments are now co-owned by many people — sometimes hundreds or thousands — making it difficult to use the land or coordinate activities on it.
Expand access to credit and land for new and diverse farmers. Women and farmers of color have been disproportionatelyexcluded from accessing the credit and land they need to farm. The Farm Credit System was founded a century ago as a government-sponsored enterprise to provide credit for farmers — but it has strayed from its central mission and instead is pocketing big profits. I will require FCS to allocate 10% of its $5 billion in annual profits towards supporting new and diverse farmers through regional lending mechanisms. I will make sure that farmers can access land, too, by stopping foreign interests from buying up American farmland and expanding the use of programs like the transition incentives program. Native American Community Development Financial Institutions also provide crucial access to credit in underbanked areas and for underbanked businesses, especially farmers. We should provide significant financial support to Native CDFIs.
Invest in protecting the civil rights of farmers of color. I will fully fund and staffUSDA’s Office of Civil Rights and administrative law courts — so that they have the resources necessary to resolve discrimination complaints at a reasonable pace. I will direct regular audits of USDA to ensure that it is not discriminating against farmers of color in issuing loans or subsidy grants. And I will increase the agency’s transparency by creating an online civil rights database that would regularly report on the complaint process.
My plan will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have financial security and the freedom to do what they do best. Farmers of all backgrounds will finally have the economic freedom to pursue diverse, sustainable farming — and get paid up front for doing so. Americans will have a steady and affordable supply of food. Kids in rural communities will have healthy lunches grown in their backyards and packaged at local food hubs run by small town entrepreneurs. Taxpayers won’t pay twice — once at the grocery store and once through their taxes — for overproduced commodities. We will replenish our soil and our water to chart a path towards a climate solution and achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.