The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect rural communities.
Now, a growing number of Democrats in Congress are calling for a coordinated federal strategy to boost rural communities, and help them weather the pandemic and beyond.
Liz Crampton is an agriculture reporter for Politico. She told Texas Standard that normally the government’s “rural strategy,” which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is supposed to help rural communities solve all kinds a issues like water quality, health care and broadband. But in recent years, Congress hasn’t given the department enough money to make a real difference.
Now, she says, the Biden administration could be poised to appoint a White House czar to specifically tackle rural issues, or at least recreate the disbanded White House rural task force to help make sure federal dollars get to where they’re most needed.
“The key is money, and how that money is spent, instead of just tossing money at rural communities, you know, willy nilly, without some sort of plan,” Crampton said. “The idea is targeted investments in parts of the country that have potential for growth. And having a rural envoy to oversee that effort is what a lot of Democrats and advocates who have been studying this issue say is necessary.”
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How the USDA is structured to support rural development
– How “rural issues” are about much more than agriculture
– What a “rural czar” would do
– How a White House rural strategy would be different than what the USDA already does