Many Democratic presidential candidates are busy wooing Iowa voters. The famous Iowa caucus allows the candidates to groom their message for rural America. Robert Leonard and Matt Russell have given strong ways to rebuild and reclaim rural America for the people.

Mr. Leonard is the news director for the Iowa radio stations KNIA and KRLS. Mr. Russell is the owner of Coyote Run Farm and the executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.

There are four strong themes throughout Iowa and throughout the Midwest:

  • Demography
  • Infrastructure
  • Farm sustainability
  • Environmental practices to deal with climate change.

Many farmers depend on jobs outside their farm income in order to support their families and farm. Many farmers are facing bankruptcy and auctions. Political candidates need to talk with farmers about the future of small towns.

Small towns with a hospital and a school of higher learning have a better chance of survival. “A helpful federal plan would work with local and state governments to direct infrastructure improvements to opportunity zones with growth potential.”

  1. Small towns need investment. There is great opportunity for jobs and development. Invest in farm-to-market roads, bridges and above all the rural broadband.
  2. Democrats need a smart approach to immigration. Manufacturers and farm operations need workers. Wisconsin needs people to milk the cows. Door County needs people to pick cherries and apples.

Congress needs to create a decent agriculture policy that will support family farms, not the one or two pork packers, beef packers, soybean crushers and wet corn processors that monopolize the market.

  1. Farmers are close to the soil and can help keep carbon out of the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. Healthy soil absorbs carbon. The right farming practices include:
  • Planting cover crops
  • Leaving organic matter in fields after harvest
  • Rotating in various crops
  • Managing grazing (changing fences each day to allow cattle to graze). Cattle waste is left on the soil. Farmers need to be compensated for improving air, water and soil quality.
  1. Rural voters care about values. Many are people of faith. Democratic candidates need to take them seriously. Candidates need to build on the Christian command to feed the hungry and take care of the homeless and the sick. Policies are needed to give relief to refugees and give jobs to the immigrants. Democratic candidates have much to learn from rural America.