Revitalize Rural America

Bernie’s plan is to Revitalize Rural America. Efforts like these pulled the nation together in a way that we haven’t seen since in decades.

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Image Credit: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders says that he wants a better farm economy, with family and not factory farms.  This is an excellent idea.  The present farm economy causes more climate change than the transportation part of the economy.  And now there are scientists who are trying to produce crops which will grab more carbon from the atmosphere and replace it in the ground in order to strengthen and improve the soil. With the growing human population of the earth, there is a need to make the soil better and increase the amount of land devoted to growing crops.  America increased its crop production in the Second World War by using unoccupied suburban and urban land. “These gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce that was consumed in the nation.” This would be a good idea for the present situation.  Furthermore, we should find ways to turn human and animal waste into ingredients for the soil instead of dumping it into lakes and rivers.

“Drawing from the rich history of World War II Victory Gardens, Victory Gardens 2007+ puts a new spin on the meaning of “victory.” In this program, “victory” is:
– independence from corporate food systems
– community involvement
– getting people closer to the natural environment.”  

(Victory Gardens 2007+ was established in San Francisco).

Victory Gardens, also called “war gardens” or “food gardens for defense”, were gardens planted both at private residences and on public land during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” – in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

Throughout the country people plowed front yards, lawns, back yards, flower gardens, and vacant lots to grow their own vegetables. Even public land was put to use, from the lawn at San Francisco City Hall to the Boston Commons to portions of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. San Francisco’s victory program became one of the best in the country. There were over 250 garden plots in Golden Gate Park.  Every park in the city had gardens and many vacant lots were used for growing vegetables.’

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It makes you wonder why gardens like these weren’t continued to be used, even after the War.  Efforts like these pulled the nation together in a way that we haven’t seen since then.

Bernie’s plan is to Revitalize Rural America.  Here’s just one of his provisions:

Ensure farmers have the Right to Repair their own equipment. In rural America today, farmers can’t even repair their own tractors or other equipment because of the greed of companies like John Deere. As noted in Wired Magazine, “Farmers can’t change engine settings, can’t retrofit old equipment with new features, and can’t modify their tractors to meet new environmental standards on their own” without going through an authorized repair agent. When we are in the White House, we will pass a national right-to-repair law that gives every farmer in America full rights over the machinery they buy.  How many people in urban areas realized that companies impose such conditions on farmers?  

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has officially thrown his weight behind a national right-to-repair law, adding momentum to the issue as he and the other 400 trillion Democratic presidential candidates ramp-up their White House ambitions.

As part of his campaign to overhaul policies governing the agriculture and farming sector, Sanders outlined a sweeping set of initiatives for driving “a transition in our agricultural system away from a consolidated, profit-driven industrial model to one that rebuilds and restores rural communities.” Those include the right for farmers to repair their equipment, an issue that’s become a serious problem as manufacturers work monopolize repairs for tools necessary to perform the basic functions of farmers’ jobs.

“In rural America today, farmers can’t even repair their own tractors or other equipment because of the greed of companies like John Deere,” Sanders wrote, vowing, if he secures the presidency, to “pass a national right-to-repair law that gives every farmer in America full rights over the machinery they buy.”

Here’s what that means: Right-to-repair laws ensure consumers have access to the parts, schematics, repair information, and any other necessary tools needed to repair the equipment that they rightfully own. It used to be that farmers could repair their farm equipment themselves. But as this equipment becomes increasingly advanced and software-reliant, the tools necessary to perform those repairs become harder to get ahold of.  (Here’s an excellent YouTube video on the issues farmers face).

Because big agriculture companies have actively lobbied against allowing farmers access to that information, they are able to maintain monopolies on the costs of the repair in much the same way that Apple – itself known for its anti-right-to-repair lobbying – is able to charge whatever price it wants for repairs to your iPhone (and anyone who owns an Apple product knows those do not come cheap). With repairs an absolute necessity for farmers, they’re forced to either bend to the will of manufacturers’ arbitrarily priced repair costs or go to extraordinary lengths to find their own workarounds.

Nathan Proctor, the Director of PIRG’s Right to Repair Campaign, told me this in an email:  “There are a lot of Republicans who back Right to Repair and who I work with, its been bipartisan just about everywhere . . .I think Guy Mills who was quoted in an article on Sen. Warren’s announcement probably sums up how many feel: 

While Mills says he is “not the biggest Warren fan,” he concedes her proposal could prove popular to farmers. “I think she’s really onto something,” he says “

Elizabeth Warren came out for a national right to repair in March 2019.  “It would apply only to farm equipment, but Warren becomes the most powerful national politician to support a consumer’s right to repair the things they own.”  This is an issue on which Warren and Sanders (and Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang) should join forces, demonstrating to the Republican-oriented farmers  that they can look to progressives to help solve problems emanating from corporate world.

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