Like many politicians, Senator Bernie Sanders is a polemic figure. But as he once again runs for president in an already crowded field, he’s looking for ways to stand out. Recently, during a stop in Iowa, Sanders introduced a rural and agricultural plan that intends to break up big agriculture companies and invest in rural farming communities.
“I come from one of the most rural and the most beautiful states in the United States,” he told the crowd in Osage, Iowa. “I will not write off rural America. Maybe I’m kind of radical here, but I think a farmer who produces the food that we eat is maybe almost as important as some crook on Wall Street who destroys the economy… Agribusiness conglomerates extract as much wealth out of small communities as they possibly can while family farmers are going bankrupt and in many ways are being treated like modern-day indentured servants.”
While his Revitalizing Rural America plan will mostly help small farm owners, it also aims to help rural communities at large by increasing pay for teachers and adding ESL and college-accreditation classes. Some have called the plan ambitious, while others believe he is misguided. Below, learn more about what Sanders proposes and how it could help Latinos.
Immigrants, many of whom are Latino, are the backbone of the agriculture business. Unfortunately, their immigration status means they’re left in a vulnerable position.
With his plan, he wants to give immigrant workers who live in the country “long-term visas and a pathway to citizenship.” He proposes protecting them from deportation and ensuring that lack of citizenship/residency doesn’t lead to mistreatment. Lastly, Sanders says he’d enforce “fair and just labor laws – including the right to organize and overtime protections – to end wage theft, harassment, and discrimination and mass immigration raids.”
With Latinos’ health particularly at risk because of environmental factors, this facet of the plan could make a difference. He wants to improve conditions for rural communities by ensuring that people have the right to protect their families and properties from chemical and biological pollution, such as pesticide and herbicide drift.
Sanders also hopes to find ways to address pollution by enforcing the Clean Air and Water Acts for large farms.
Sanders’ plan has a strong focus on education in rural schools, particularly having more ESL courses and classes for students with disabilities. “Over the first decade of this century, rural schools saw a 150% increase in Latino students, who are more likely than any other group to require English as a second language programs,” his site reads.
Additionally, Sanders’s plan includes free higher education, job training, apprenticeship programs, and other development programs for people who come from low-income and rural areas.
With farm workers and farmers having some of the highest uninsured rates, this is especially necessary. Sanders calls for Medicare-for-All, so that small business owners, farmers, and their employees are covered. “When we are in the White House, we will provide even more funding for health centers,” Sanders’ site reads. “We will also expand funding for the National Health Service Corps, which places health care providers in underserved areas and will bring more providers to rural America.”
Sanders also proposes raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. Citing the Economic Policy Institute, Sanders explains that this is important because by 2024, a single childless adult will need at least $31,200 to afford a “modest but adequate standard of living.”
Sanders’ plan is thorough and covers many other areas. Read more here.