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Joe Biden’s First 100 Days Mark A New Era Of Opportunity For America’s Small Towns And Rural Communities

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of in response to President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.

President Joe Biden believes the small town way of life is worth fighting for and that no one should have to choose between leaving their hometown and providing their family with opportunity, healthcare, and financial security. That’s what we learned from his first 100 days in office.

For too long, Wall Street and agribusiness monopolies have rigged the system in rural communities. As a result, wages have stagnated, well paying jobs are harder to come by, and access to higher education and technical training programs as well as quality healthcare are increasingly scarce. That’s why our network has spent the last year advocating  for policies that will raise wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the quality of life for Americans living in our country’s small towns and rural communities. We are thrilled with what we have seen from the Biden Administration during the first 100 days.

The American Jobs Plan will increase rural wages by hiring rural workers to fix our highways, rebuild our bridges, retrofit our homes, and upgrade our airports and transit systems while requiring that goods and materials are made in America. And, the investment in broadband will ensure that rural communities have access to the connectivity required in the post-covid economy.

The American Families Plan will reduce daily expenses for rural families by making education more affordable, expanding school meal programs, making the child and Dependent Care Tax Credit permanent, and lowering health care costs by making the American Rescue Plan’s health insurance premium reductions permanent, 

Through the passage of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden and Congressional Democrats have already made critical investments in the public services and institutions that have long been the foundation from which we built the rural way of life.

President Biden is championing critical federal programs specifically designed for the types of communities that Democrats have struggled to connect with over the last few decades. If Congressional Democrats are successful in the passage of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan - and capitalize on the vital investments from the American Rescue plan, they could shift the political fault lines in America for decades to come.

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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While Republicans Continue to Prioritize Wall Street, Democratic Lawmakers Must Stand Up for Main Streets in Rural America and Pass The American Jobs Plan

Columbus, OH—The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of in response to reports that Republicans plan to uniformly oppose the Joe Biden Jobs Plan.  

Rural voters are tired of the endless stream of broken promises on infrastructure. The past administration turned it into a running joke. But, it was never funny. Not only do the vast majority of American voters  support The American Jobs Plan but a clear majority think ambitious proposals like this should be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. 

American workers are the most critical piece of our infrastructure and know that it’s not just about building roads, bridges, locks and dams or upgrading public transportation like buses and trains and investments in clean energy infrastructure, like solar panels and wind turbines.  We need new job training programs for those left behind by closed coal mines and power plants and expanded high speed internet access across the country. We need affordable childcare options and expanded family and medical leave for all workers.

While some Republicans, like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, are attacking the American Jobs Plan by making absurd claims that “housing and pipes” aren’t infrastructure, others,  like Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, are open and upfront about their opposition to corporations paying higher taxes. For years, Republicans claimed to stand with  small towns and rural communities, but the jig is up. The fight for the The American Jobs Plan is a fight between Wall Street donors and Main Street America and now we know where Republicans firmly stand.

There’s no investment in infrastructure without raising taxes on corporations. We just learned that over 50 of the largest corporations paid nothing in federal income tax. Zero. So while Republicans like to talk about the need for highway and bridge construction, watch how they do everything possible to undermine this legislation because they are beholden to  their Wall Street donors.  

It’s up to Democrats to provide solutions. Biden’s infrastructure proposal would be a boon for rural America. It invests in people and their real life needs. Democrats should let  Republicans prioritize the wishes of big corporations over the small farms and the small businesses that are the bedrock of rural economies. 

At, we believe that increased investments in infrastructure, from bridges to broadband and so much more, are vital to restoring rural prosperity.  Rural communities understand this. We strongly support the American Jobs Act and look forward to its passage  - with or without Republican support. 

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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The American Jobs Plan Is A Major Step Forward For Rural Prosperity

Columbus, OH—Today, President Biden unveiled “The American Jobs Plan,” a policy proposal that, if passed, would be a major step forward  in our ongoing campaign for rural prosperity.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of

For decades, rural communities have faced crumbling infrastructure, lack of investment and government inaction. Republicans talk a good game but never deliver for their rural constituents. That’s why today’s announcement of the American Jobs Plan is a welcome change of direction. 

From affordable and reliable high-speed broadband for every American to repairing the 10,000 most structurally deficient bridges in the country and so many other critical elements, The American Jobs Plan will improve the quality of life and the economies of countless small towns and rural communities.

Rural Americans are no strangers to big, bold ideas and The American Jobs Plan includes specific provisions to invest in research and development as well as partnerships with Tribal communities that will spur innovation, create jobs, and ensure economic growth in our small towns and rural communities.

As we’ve said many times, good policy is always good politics. This is an important step towards developing a bold progressive policy vision rooted in rural prosperity. At, we will continue our work to ensure that passage of this new legislation must include those provisions and we encourage all legislators, especially those with rural constituents, to make it happen. We’ve waited too long already. 

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


Share this post Interviewed 70 Rural Organizers Who Worked on 2020 Campaigns. Here’s What We Learned

Columbus, OH — Electoral campaigns can’t do it all, we need permanent rural civic infrastructure, that’s what we discovered when we conducted 70 “2020 Exit Interviews” with progressive rural organizers, candidates, and civic leaders. Between December 01, 2020 and March 01, 2021, carried out a campaign to capture, analyze, and share the lessons learned by rural engagement leaders from 2020 campaign trails. Then, compiled our qualitative data into the set of conclusions and recommendations contained in this report. Today, we held a discussion of our findings on Facebook at 4 PM ET. A recording of the video is now available.

After months of research, we were left with three key findings: 

  • First, electoral campaigns are hamstrung by a lack of permanent rural civic infrastructure. 

  • Second, local issue campaigns in off-years are the best way to build that infrastructure. 

  • Third, in order to leverage new rural civic infrastructure, candidates must incorporate those local issues in their platforms, outreach, and messaging.  

The full report is available here for download

The following is a statement from Kellon Patey, Lead Organizer at

The purpose of this research campaign was to ensure essential lessons learned by rural organizers on the front lines of the 2020 election cycle were collected, catalogued, and shared with rural progressive stakeholders—everyone from grassroots volunteers, to progressive philanthropic institutions, to the Democratic National Committee. 

Typically, organizers and local candidates spend months accumulating valuable insights, but campaigns typically close up shop before collecting the valuable feedback from the field about tactics, platform, and messaging. These critical real world experiences are excluded from the post-election analysis and future strategy. I want to thank my colleagues, Blanca Soto and Anderson Clayton, for their contribution to this project.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of

In 2020, did extensive research of rural voters to get a better understanding of their needs and concerns. After the election, we wanted to know how campaigns dealt with rural voters. There was no better place to find that out than with the people who were on the front lines talking to those voters. They have given us vital information that should guide our work moving forward.

Without heeding the advice of those closest to rural voters, national progressive leadership will jeopardize Democratic control of the Senate in 2022 and beyond. Key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia all have populations that are over 40% rural and exurban. Ultimately, our research indicates that Democrats  would be wise to invest early and intentionally in local issue campaigns and leadership development through 2021 so our movement is ready to mobilize a well-nourished progressive civic infrastructure in 2022. Our report articulates specific recommendations that we hope candidates, campaigns, civic organizations, and philanthropists will find valuable. 

The sample of interviewees for this project was comprised of 70 individuals who were active across 31 states. These individuals represented 32 electoral campaigns, 18 501c4 organizations, 17 501c3 organizations, five PACs, three volunteer clubs, and two unions. Additionally, 30% of our sample were rural organizers and candidates of color. There are three times as many people of color as there are farmers in rural America, and it was important to reflect that commonly overlooked reality in our sample. 

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


Share this post strongly supports passage of Dream and Promise Act and Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Columbus, OH — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will hold votes on the Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 8, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, H.R. 1603. 

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of in support of both bills:

Immigrants are valued members of our small towns and rural communities. They are our friends, our family, and our neighbors. That’s why we have their backs regardless of their status. We strongly support the passage of both the Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 8, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bills, which provide a path to legal status and eventual citizenship to Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, and farm workers, will have a positive impact on rural communities around the country. We strongly encourage all House members, particularly those with rural constituents, to support both bills. 

America would not have an agricultural industry without the contributions of undocumented workers - from the fields to the farms to the processing plants. In rural communities, we know how essential these folks are. During the pandemic, the rest of the nation realized it too. 

Dreamers, TPS holders, and farmworkers are living, working, and building families in our communities. We are stronger because of them. Now is the time for Congress to finally act to set them on the path to citizenship. 

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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Democrats Vote To Pass The Most Impactful Rural Legislation In Over A Generation

Columbus, OH — The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director on the passing of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Today,  Democrats in the House of Representatives joined their Senate colleagues by voting for the biggest boost for small towns and rural communities that we’ve seen in over a generation. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan  provides $5 billion farmers of color, who have lost 90 percent of their land over the past century because of systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt; distrubutes $4 billion to support the food supply chain; allocates $750 million to support the Indian Housing Block Grant program and the Indian Community Development Block Grant program; and provides $140 million to support households residing in USDA-subsidized rural properties or who participate in USDA 502 and 504 Direct mortgage programs.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that all politicians are the same. 

When Republicans took control of Washington in 2017, they prioritized policies that further rigged the rules to benefit the wealthy and well connected. Nearly half of the Republican 2018 tax cuts went to households who made over $300,000 that year.

The American Rescue Plan, championed by President Joe Biden and passed by Congressional Democrats, invests $1.9 trillion in the American people and according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, low- and moderate-income households will receive nearly 70 percent of the tax benefits from the legislation.

It’s a new day in small towns and rural communities who have not only been hit hard by the pandemic but have struggled economically for years. Good policy is always good politics, and as we continue working to ensure that the implementation of this new legislation actually reaches working people in the most remote corners of the country, we will decisively show rural voters which elected officials truly have their backs.

A full breakdown of how The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will impact small towns and rural communities can be found here.

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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Rural America Needs Help. Democrats Need to Keep their Promises. Deliver the Aid

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of

Like the rest of the country, rural America is hurting. The pandemic has had an outsize impact on rural towns and counties. 

Today, Democrats in the House and Senate took a big step towards  delivering on their promises to deliver much needed help with passage of  budget resolution for fiscal year 2021.  This sets in motion the process to finally pass President Biden’s much needed $1.9 trillion relief package - and that is a welcome development. 

Senators and Representatives need to think about the needs of their constituents first and foremost - and, their rural constituents need help now. This isn’t a political debate for them. It’s real life.  There is not one hurting family in America who  cares about the “process” or “beltway bipartisanship.”  Right now, their focus is feeding their families and paying for medicine. 

We also strongly urge the Biden administration and members of Congress to refrain from lowering the threshold for support checks. Importantly, they should base any decision using 2019 income as the baseline when the dire impacts, like loss of jobs and income, happened in 2020.

We encourage Democrats to act big and act bold to help all Americans  - because we know Republicans won’t.

 The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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‘Damn! What a week!’ Matt Hildreth responds to President Joe Biden’s first full week in office

The following is a statement by Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of

Damn! What a week. We’ve made more progress in Rural America during President Joe Biden’s first week in office than any other seven day period in recent memory.

With the appointment of national rural development experts in key positions within the administration, President Biden is assembling the team to build back better in rural America, and with swift executive action, he is beginning to correct the course on climate change, the failing rural economy, immigration, and of course, the pandemic.

As we celebrate these recent wins for small towns and rural communities, we were thrilled that the President named Kelliann Blazek, who ran the Wisconsin Office of Rural Prosperity, as Special Assistant for Agriculture and Rural Affairs. We look forward to working with her and others in the administration to implement the Biden administration’s national strategy to uplift rural communities. And, we will continue to advocate for a “National Office of Rural Prosperity” modeled on those in Wisconsin and Kansas. We will also continue to push both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to expand federal rural programs that benefit rural workers, their communities, and their families.

The coronavirus pandemic exposed countless structural vulnerabilities that have been festering in small towns and rural communities over the last several decades. So many of the actions Washington is now taking to combat an extended economic recession and improve access to healthcare and a vaccine are long overdue and must stay in place after we beat back Covid-19. We strongly encourage Senate Democrats to move as quickly as possible to pass the Biden administration’s package intact. Their constituents need the help.

Actions President Joe Biden took during his first week in office to benefit Americans living in small towns and rural communities.

 The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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Matt Hildreth on the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

The following is a statement by Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of

Today marks a new beginning for the nation. At, we look forward to working with the new administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to improve the lives of all Americans, particularly those in rural areas who were left behind by Donald Trump.

We strongly believe that the best way President Biden can ensure small town America benefits from federal programs for years to come is by opening  a national  office of Rural Prosperity like Governor Kelly did in Kansas and Governor Evers did in Wisconsin.

We encourage the new President to continue to take bold steps through executive actions to undo the harm caused by Donald Trump. Besides being the right thing to do, ending the Muslim Ban will help staff rural hospitals. Ending the assault on immigrants will help rural communities that depend on them. Ending the KXL pipeline will stop the seizure of property from rural landowners and the assault by private industry on tribal lands. And, we strongly support the increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour. 

This is the time for bold initiatives and the President’s initial COVID relief package is a great start.  Biden’s plan to issue $1,400 per-person checks to working families, extend current unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility until the end of September, and expand the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase will ensure stimulus money reaches those who need it most. 

President Biden’s plan to provide grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit small businesses and leverage $175 billion in additional small business lending to save our Main Street communities is absolutely critical because small businesses are the backbone of small towns and rural communities. 

Now, we need the package to pass. Republican Senators who block these programs are blocking aid to their constituents who need it most - and many of them live in rural parts of their states.

The mission of  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.


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ICYMI from Rolling Stone: Can Joe Biden and the Democrats Win Back Rural Voters in 2020?

Yesterday, Andy Kroll at Rolling Stone published an article focused on the work of rural progressive activists in the 2020 election. The piece highlighted the grassroots work of many of our colleagues, including Brigid Flaherty from DownHomeNC, the important role of the Rural Democracy Initiative contribution and input from the Executive Director of, Matt Hildreth. The answer to the question posed in the title of Kroll’s piece is yes, if Democrats do the work. 

An excerpt:

There’s early evidence that these efforts, in combination with the broader surge in energy on the left during Trump’s first term in office, can make a difference in rural America. Much has been written about how the suburbs powered the Democratic blue wave in the 2018 midterm elections, but the biggest shift in voters who supported Democrats two years ago after backing Trump in 2016 happened not in the suburbs but in rural areas, according to the left-leaning analytics firm Catalist. As Hildreth likes to say, rural voters are swing voters, even if they’re rarely talked about that way by pollsters and pundits.

Those swing rural voters could not only decide the presidency this year, but also control of the U.S. Senate given the political map in 2020. To win them over — or at least enough of them to deny Trump the staggering margins he recorded in ’16 and flip the Senate — liberal donors are pouring money into rural organizing efforts like Hildreth’s and dozens of others across the country. From distributing tens of thousands of Biden-Harris yard signs to employing cutting-edge canvassing tactics to funding hyper-local organizations built to last beyond one or two election cycles, this renewed focus on rural voters could not only prove to be key to defeating Trump but a critical part of stitching together a fraying nation.

The full article can be read here.  Matt Hildreth is available for interviews. 

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