Investing in our Rural Communities
Every Vermonter, no matter their zip code, deserves the same shot at opportunity. While some politicians try to cynically drive a wedge between rural and urban communities, to divide and distract us, Vermonters know better than this. We know that our rural communities are the backbone of Vermont’s economy and that if our rural communities are thriving our entire state will, too. That is why our rural communities need new investment now more than ever before.
Investing in Rural Families and Working Vermonters
Every Vermonter deserves the opportunity to have work that brings joy, dignity, and economic security. Programs like the Civilian Climate Corps and the National Health Service Corps are a start, but more support for small business owners and farmers will be critical to achieving this. So will investing in projects that retrofit our homes, buildings, and schools. All of this and more is necessary.
This will also require boosting federal funding to better support our rural schools, including paying and supporting teachers for their hard work, investing in extracurricular activities for students, and funding green, resilient, and modern school infrastructure. We must stop the worrying trend of school consolidation, especially of our elementary schools, and instead support increased investments in rural education, including skilled trade and vocational education to keep our communities vibrant.
Expanding Access to Connectivity and Broadband
Internet services keep our communities connected across the state. Good internet access is essential for a community’s success in today’s economy, and it should be a right. Unfortunately we know that rural communities, communities of color, and low income communities disproportionately lack access to broadband. We must make massive investments in our infrastructure to deliver high-speed broadband internet to everyone in this country. But providing access to high speed internet is not enough, we must bring down the costs and break up the monopolies that have ignored our communities and driven up prices.
Supporting Farmers and Agriculture
Farmers are the backbone of our community. In order to support small family farms we must break up the big ag monopolies that depress prices for small farms, invest in farmers, particularly farmers of color, and provide funding and technical assistance to farmers transitioning to more sustainable agricultural practices.
We must invest in small family farms. Currently, a majority of subsidies go to big farms while small farms receive very limited help. I will work to change this so that a majority of subsidies and assistance goes to small family farms. I will prioritize funding for historically disadvantaged farmers, new farmers, and farmers who engage in regenerative farming practices. In addition to reforming our current system, I will increase funding to programs that help farmers transition to more ecologically friendly farming practices, provide technical assistance, and help farmers get access to land and equipment.
As we work to invest in our farmers, we must prioritize targeted support and funding for socially disadvantaged farmers who have historically denied resources to support and grow their farms. This includes support in purchasing land, equipment, and training and education opportunities. Immigrants play a central role in keeping our farms running, yet they have no protections. We must create a pathway to citizenship for migrant farm workers in our state, establish strong workplace protections, and guarantee that farmworkers can report workplace violations no matter their immigration status.