DES MOINES - Last week, former Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge hosted rural roundtables in Adel, Indianola, Carroll and Fort Dodge. Judge is a member of the Rural Iowans for Obama Steering Committee that was launched by former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack.
The roundtables had several themes, but the clear takeaway was the contrast between President Obama and Mitt Romney’s approach to rural America. President Obama is working to build stronger and more diverse economies in rural Iowa through investments in renewable energy, manufacturing, education and agriculture, while Romney has shown little understanding of rural America and agriculture
The Associated Press ran a story from Carroll IA on Saturday about rural Iowa and how the success of the state’s farm economy will impact the election. Click here to read.
“Too often campaigns are about winning Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, and there isn’t enough conversation about smaller towns in statewide campaigns, but in this election the Obama campaign will have the largest presence in rural Iowa that any campaign has ever had,” said Judge. “There is a real contrast to Mitt Romney’s campaign that doesn’t have a large presence in Iowa and that will bombard the airwaves with ads funded by billionaire-backed super PACs”
One participant in Carroll talked about how proud he was of the number of jobs and funds that renewable energy is pumping into rural Iowa. He wants to make sure that we protect rural interests and that rural Iowans have a voice at the table because they provide a lot of what makes this country run.
Key issues facing rural Iowans that were discussed at these roundtables include:
Today, we need to focus on growing our skilled workforce because rural Iowans want quality, high paying jobs.
Education is an important and prevalent issue in Iowa. Having a strong education system is vitally important to ensuring that our children are prepared for the future.
Community colleges should be congratulated for their vocational training programs, which often draw in and feed businesses with skilled workers.
Today, the cost of college is unsustainable; we need to make college affordable because it hampers young people and the growth of our middle class.
While President Obama is working with Congressional leaders to fight Congressional efforts to double interest rates, Mitt Romney has said that students should just “shop around” for a cheaper college or “borrow money from their parents” to pay for school.
There is no one size fits all approach to our nation’s energy needs, but renewables like wind and biofuels have a lot of advantages and need to be developed.
Renewable energy is an important part of the state economy and a critical source of income for rural communities.
The commitment that President Obama has to rural Iowa is very clear. We don’t see that commitment from Romney and he certainly hasn’t been a champion of the renewable industry.
In this day and age everything is about speed and efficiency. In the future, access to broadband and a good transportation infrastructure will be essential to rural communities
We need to have the ability for farmers to bring their goods to markets because it’s important to marketing, production of agriculture and interstate commerce.
The truth is the government has been a good partner for rural Iowa. The Rural Electrification Act is an excellent example of that and USDA made it possible. We have good clean water in rural Iowa because of the rural water system that the government helped install. And broadband will come to rural Iowa because the government is choosing to make the investment in us and our future.
The decline in the farm population impacts rural communities; and we need to find new ways to get young people into farming. Agriculture has changed, farms have changed, but we need to maintain the vitality of our rural communities.
Two big impacts the Affordable Care Act has on rural Iowans is the fact that children can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 and it is helping to close the Medicare donut hole.
If the Affordable Care Act is taken away, rural Iowans will suffer because so many people make a living through a combination of several part-time jobs and those with pre-existing conditions will struggle to pay for affordable health care insurance.