Iowans Urge Congress to Fund Rural Hospitals and Health Centers

As critical-access hospitals around the state continue to have their existence threatened, Iowa organizations are stepping up and fighting back to protect health care in rural areas. After proposed federal funding cuts to programs that support health care services for Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients, ten Iowa organizations have teamed up on a letter to Congress to pressure them into supporting the CHIME Act. The letter states that the programs being cut provide vital support to 11 Iowa hospitals, and that the cuts are unsustainable for these hospitals, especially in rural areas, and “could force some of them to reduce […]

Iowa Dems Knock Trump EPA’s “Bait-And-Switch” On Iowa Farmers

Focus on Rural America hosted a press conference Thursday to call out President Donald Trump for the promises he made to farmers and the biofuel industry during his first campaign, but has failed to live up to. “We have a bait-and-switch. They said we’re gonna give you year-round E15 sales, but we’re gonna grant enough waivers to the oil industry that it does not result in any additional market share,” Patty Judge said. Focus on Rural America chair and former Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge spoke at the press conference, along with former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, IDP […]

What Steve Bullock Gets About The Rural Vote

Late to the race? Low name recognition? Steve Bullock doesn’t care if you’re writing him off; he’s running to fight for the written-off. Bullock’s campaign is in full swing as he prepares for the next round of Democratic primary debates, one that he should be a part of and which will be his first crack at the national stage. To establish a presence in Iowa, Bullock was on his sixth trip since announcing to the lead-off state, taking a tour of POET, an ethanol production facility in Gowrie, and stopping at a grain co-op in Rippey, Iowa on Tuesday. He […]

Poll Shows Rural Voters Back More Centrist Approach, Biofuel Support

Rural Democrats are looking to support a presidential candidate who will focus on their communities and invigorate the renewable fuel industries, a poll from David Binder Research showed earlier this week. Of the 600 people surveyed in the poll, 53% report living in rural areas and small towns, and 76% self-identified as middle-class or lower in socioeconomic standing. The recent poll, which shows Elizabeth Warren leading amongst the sample, reflected the older, whiter electorate, even among Iowa Democrats: 95% of respondents identified as white and 85% of them being over the age of 35. Amongst the group, 62% said they […]

Tim Ryan Talks Of ‘Forgotten’ America During Ethanol Plant Tour

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan toured Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa on Tuesday. He made a point to learn more about people that work at the facility and their living and working conditions, as well as how the plant fit into the global economy. “The supply chain is what I’m interest in,” Ryan said. “Everyone helps supply along the way, gets jobs along the way, everyone makes money along the way and we lift each other up.” The tour opened with a quick presentation from facility staff, giving background on their company and its development. Ryan asked questions about […]

Without Rural Improvement, Dems Will Never Retake U.S. Senate

As everyone digests the first round of Democratic debates and discusses the bold policy agendas of the candidates, it can be easy to over-nationalize politics. But winning the presidency is just a step, and certainly doesn’t guarantee that any of those policies will successfully be implemented. Legislation runs through the Senate, where if Mitch McConnell remains the majority leader, Democratic proposals will go to die. And connecting with rural voters to regain control of the U.S. Senate is getting overlooked by many Democrats, says Jeff Link of Link Strategies. “Until we figure this out, we will never have a majority […]

Axne Puts Forth Bipartisan Legislation to Relieve Rural Hospitals

On Tuesday, Cindy Axne (D-IA) put forth legislation to relieve rural hospitals of supervision restraints that limit the ability of Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to provide quality care. Working with Adrian Smith (R-NE), Axne introduced the bipartisan bill to postpone enforcement of oversight rules requiring Medicare hospitals to implement supervision provisions for outpatient therapeutic services. “We need to address staffing shortages in rural areas, but in the meantime, we need to make sure that regulations aren’t overly burdensome for rural hospitals,” Axne said in a statement. Arbitrary Supervision The legislation delays implementation of “direct supervision” – or the requirement that […]

One Country Project Pushes Dems To Reconnect With Rural America

Hillary Clinton won just six total counties in all of Iowa in the 2016 presidential election. Trump took the other 93, often by large margins, including with 60% or 70% or more in many rural counties. In an effort to tamp down those lopsided margins in rural Iowa, One Country Project, an organization launched by former Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly, has added J.D. Scholten to their team. “I learned from studying Berkley Bedell and Tom Harkin, and that was their thing. If they got out to the people, proved that they’re trustworthy, and proved that they’re going […]

Trump Rethinks Refinery Waivers After Pushback From Farmers, Democrats

Several reports late this week revealed that Donald Trump has ordered EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to reconsider their approach to small refinery ethanol waivers. President Trump was in Iowa earlier this month to celebrate the year-round sales of E15 and to fundraise for his reelection campaign, but received blowback from farmers about the high number of small refinery waivers being granted. His administration has continually allowed oil companies, even ones operating sizable refineries, to not mix ethanol into their fuel production, thus limiting demand for ethanol. While many corn farmers were excited about the […]

USDA Grants Boost Small Iowa Towns, But Funding Now At Risk

As small towns across the country struggle to attract or retain businesses, the USDA has been awarding a number of rural development grants to help stimulate growth. “I just feel like there’s been a reinvigorated interest in rural issues and communities, and seeing that manifest itself in different ways has been really encouraging,” said Grant Menke, the Iowa State Director of USDA Rural Development. “Iowa is pretty much the best in the nation at the rural economic development program.” Decorah, Iowa, took advantage of one over a decade ago that helped develop their now-lively commerce and arts scene in town. […]