Days before the election, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry is hoping to garner more rural votes by committing to bring new life to issues being overlooked in rural America.
On Monday Kerry announced his plan to have a rural summit within the first 100 days of his presidency to bring key players in agriculture together and form a roadmap for moving forward.
Kerry says he wants to "put ideas on the table in a constructive, collaborative way that has roots in rural America." His plan is to hold a rural summit in Ames, Iowa, and not simply to talk about some issues but really lay out the broad challenges that people in rural communities face.
He hopes to reinvigorate rural communities with the help of the experts on rural economic development, health care, education, rural law enforcement, and farm policy. Kerry says he will be deeply involved with the summit and will have his labor, commerce, interior and agriculture secretaries present. In addition he plans to pull the minds of Iowa State University well-known agricultural economist Neil Harl, Sen. Colin Peterson, D-Minn., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.
At the summit Kerry will listen closely to what the participants share and he will talk about his plan to strengthen rural America that he has been talking about for months. The key components include:
- The Greater Rural Opportunities and Work (GROW) initiative that will bring venture capital and management expertise to small town America;
- Enabling rural America to compete with universal high-speed internet;
- Investing in energy independence and fueling rural economies; and
- Supporting Americaâ€™s farmers and ranchers by combating consolidation, ensuring fair trade deals, and encouraging conservation.
After the summit, Kerry plans to publish the findings of the summit and begin to implement those changes in his new administration, if elected.
According to a Center for Rural Strategies poll of likely rural voters released over the weekend, Kerry is down by a 12-point deficient to President George Bush. The poll results are nearly identical to a poll conducted in September by the same organization that showed Bush with a 13-point lead.