Senate Democrats have unveiled a “rural agenda” for the 111th Congress and a Web site highlighting issues important to rural communities and promoting policies that will benefit rural areas.
The developments were announced by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She serves as chair of Rural Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“Our rural communities are suffering during these tough economic times, and it is critical that we focus on policies which will give them the economic boost they desperately need and deserve,” said Lincoln. “This agenda will help guide Senate Democrats as we work toward policies that will revitalize and reinvest in the rural economy.”
Under their rural agenda, Lincoln said, Senate Democrats will concentrate on the following over the next two years:
• Health care — Providing rural Americans with access to affordable, quality health care.
• Education — Offering students in rural America an opportunity to excel in the classroom through education policy that recognizes the unique challenges for rural schools.
• Economic development — Promoting economic development programs and initiatives to give rural communities the tools needed for success in a changing global economy.
• Agriculture — Supporting family farmers, ranchers, and producers as a vital part of the rural economy.
• Energy and natural resources — Promoting rural America as a leader in the development of renewable energy technologies that will help stimulate the rural economy, while preserving our environment for future generations.
• Veterans and National Guard — Ensuring that our nation’s veterans and service members are provided with benefits and services worthy of their sacrifices.
• Rural law enforcement and Homeland Security — Equipping first responders with the training and tools necessary to protect rural communities.
• Infrastructure — Investing in infrastructure in order to create jobs and build a sustainable rural economy.
“Senate Democrats will continue to make the more than 50 million hard-working rural Americans a top priority,” said Lincoln, who announced the new agenda during a conference call with interest groups and reporters.
The Senate Democratic Rural Outreach Web site can be accessed at www.democrats.senate.gov/rural.