Rural America Needs Your Attention, Washington D.C.
Rural communities provide much of the food and energy that fuel American citizens’ lives. We are hard-working American people who give much more than we receive. We are used to quietly taking care of ourselves while we work tirelessly to feed the world. However, decades of resource extraction and neglect have been detrimental to rural America. As you begin moving political agendas forward, we humbly ask you to consider a few things to help rural America’s communities survive and thrive.
- Distribute CFAP 2 payments to rural America. The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on American agriculture. Many farmers and ranchers did not qualify for other pandemic assistance programs, so the October CFAP payment was the first help they received in the pandemic. We appreciate the new administration’s desire to review important farmer and rancher assistance programs, but we are encouraging you to complete this task swiftly so the CFAP 2 payments get distributed to the people who are working to keep America’s pantries stocked.
- Get High-Speed Internet to the rest of rural America. The pandemic highlighted something rural America is woefully familiar with: High-speed internet is the gateway to everything. Education, work,health care and information access depend directly on broadband connectivity. Roughly 1% of urban residents lack access to high-speed internet, compared to over 20% of rural residents. We need high-speed connectivity for our rural communities to continue our existence.
- Prioritize rural America’s infrastructure. The pandemic exposed issues with our food supply chain. We rely on roads, bridges, locks and dams that are crumbling away to transport protein and food items to consumers. Rural communities also need healthcare, affordable housing, reliable and affordable power to strengthen our communities and attract future generations.
Climate Change: rural America is already doing something about it.
“Take care of the land and animals, and they will take care of you.” Farmers and ranchers live by these words, and we take our role as caretakers seriously. U.S. agriculture is highly efficient and is a much smaller greenhouse gas contributor compared to our global counterparts. Since 1990, agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased about 10%, while agricultural output has increased over 40%. Here are a few more facts to consider as Congress considers efforts toward a zero emission agriculture:
- The average amount of pesticide used on an acre of cropland is roughly 22 ounces (about the size of 2 soda cans). An acre of land is about the size of a football field.
- Modern agriculture works in many ways to ensure safe, clean water, including: conservation tillage, drainage management, cover crops, livestock waste management, buffers, watershed efforts and nutrient management.
- One U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually at home and abroad. Innovations in agriculture have increased our ability to feed the world. DID YOU KNOW: ) U.S. soybean farmers grow 55% more soybeans than they did 30 years ago AND they do it on 35% less land. 2.) In the last 40 years, the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk by one-third, yet U.S. farmers are producing more beef today than they did in the 1970s.
- Let’s clear the air about cow farts. U.S. farmers have invested their own dollars in decades of research improving tools and methods to make cattle ranching more effective, efficient and environmentally friendly. Herds are down but we’re producing more dairy and beef than ever. That’s helping to drive down greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Cows burp out the same greenhouse gases that they consume, in other words the gases are “recycled”, not new. Something else to keep in mind is that the methane being released by cows decays in 10 years. Carbon dioxide lasts in the air for hundreds of years. So once a cattle ranch has been around for 10 years (and many have been around for generations), there are no new increases in methane emissions. Research shows that removing all livestock and poultry from the U.S. alone would only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 0.36 percent. Everyone must work together to care for the world, rural areas know what we need to do and have been doing so for generations.
As an organization representing rural America, we look forward to working with you to ensure all Americans have a brighter future. Thank you for considering these views and your service to America.