Democratic presidential candidate and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar chose a family farm in Ankeny that nearly abuts suburban housing as the backdrop for her farm and rural policy announcement Wednesday.
At the top of her agenda is what she calls Heartland economics. For starters, she wants to de-escalate the trade war. She says President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs is hurting too many farmers.
“And I can tell you one thing: as your president I’m not gonna treat our farmers and our rural communities like poker chips in a bankrupt casino,” she said, prompting applause. “I’m gonna treat them as the producers that they are.”
Klobuchar said she’s spoken with soybean farmers in Minnesota and Iowa who tell her their business has taken a major hit and that while they accept federal bailout money, they’d much rather have their export markets back. Klobuchar is worried that if Trump continues his pattern of increasing tariffs, especially on China, U.S. farmers will watch as the contracts they’ve come to rely upon move to other countries, possibly for years to come.
Klobuchar also ties her ag plans into climate change, calling for more conservation practices on farmland. She wants to build upon existing state and federal incentives such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
“We can do more to improve soil carbon sequestration, which both improves soil health and reduces carbon levels,” she said. “We started with a pilot program, by the way, in the Farm Bill on this and it’s kind of exciting what we can do to make this part of our conservation efforts.”
Klobuchar also said strong renewable fuels policy, coupled with additional innovations that can come from rural areas, will continue to create jobs. But the current small refinery waivers program must be overhauled, she said, so it reaches its intended targets and not some of the big oil companies that have benefited in recent years.
Two additional themes ran through her plan: Klobuchar wants kids growing up in rural communities to see them as viable places to stay in, or return to, as adults to pursue careers. And she wants urban food consumers and rural farmers to recognize how they are connected so they can work together.