Saturday, July 12, 2008

Will Rural Issues become Part of Political Debate in 2008?

Rural America has been particularly hard hit in the past few decades, with decreasing jobs, lack of vocational and college training, and national priorities that often leave out rural programs. I was particularly pleased when John Edwards proposed a "Rural Recovery Act," which would bring new technologies to rural areas and involve government investment in rural area infrastructure. Growing up in and around Appalachia, I saw firsthand how rural areas have not been able to adjust to the economic times and how rural poverty often goes unnoticed and untreated.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, to read that Obama has a rather extensive "Rural America" Plan to get these parts of the country better footing in today's economy. One of the biggest problems, seemingly, is the way that individual family farms don't qualify for government assistance, but Obama's plan addresses that oversight, and it includes investment in rural education, invest in new communication infrastructures in rural areas, and include training and increased funds for land grant universities, particularly their agricultural departments. Obama's plan, which I haven't even gone into complete detail about, has merit to it, and I hope that his rural America plan results in an economic reversal for this important part of our country.