Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp was in the running to become the next US Agriculture Secretary under the Biden Administration.
While she was passed over, she says she still has a plan to bridge the growing disconnect between urban and rural America, with the greater goal of rebuilding rural America.
Heitkamp launched One Country Project to reconnect Democrats to rural America.
She says Democrats need to promote greater opportunity for rural communities and build an economy that will work for everyone.
“I started this non-profit and called it One Country because that’s what I see. And, I say yes, their life experience is different and we also need to understand that we’re Americans first, and we can work together to solve problems just like we always have,” explained Heitkamp.
One Country Project did polling in North Dakota and found that 78% of North Dakotans said that small-town main street is in decline, and also found that only 16% of rural North Dakotans think Democrats are actually working for them.
Heitkamps says democratic lawmakers need to craft policy that incentivises new business to locate in rural communities.
“When you look at where venture capital has been deployed which is the single greatest indicator of new successful business startups. It’s deployed mainly in three states. New York, California, and Massachusetts. Let’s get out of those three states,” said Heitkamp.
During the 2020 election, Heitkamp virtually campaigned for the Biden-Harris ticket around the country.
“When you looked at Joe Biden’s rural healthcare plan, guess what, it included transportation. That tells me that he actually listened, that we know that one of the big challenges is just getting people to the hospital. Getting people to the doctor,” said Heitkamp.
Heitkamp says she’s working with rural communites to find out how to advise policymakers to not only promote sustainable practices – but provide incentives for those producers.
“We’re seeing people come to the table like the American Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Corn Growers. And, so there is building support for a lot of these ideas and they’re going to be essential,” explained Heitkamp.
Ideas, like supporting sustainable commodity practices like ethanol that she says would help corn growers in North Dakota, and help rural America’s standing around the world.
“One of the soybean growers. And, he said look we need to deal with these issues if we’re going to market our product especially into Europe and into places where people are going to look into sustainability goals as they purchase our products,” said Heitkamp.
The looming challenging facing rural America right now is how will vaccine distribution reach rural communities who are not only hard to reach but are also among some of the most vulnerable groups in the country.
To learn more about One Country Project head over to KXnet.com.