Sen. Elizabeth Warren rolled out a new set of plans on Wednesday that would increase government investments in rural America, doubled down on her threat to break up anti-competitive agribusiness giants and build what she calls a “new farm economy” aimed at helping struggling farmers.
In a Medium post, Warren writes that “both corporate America and leaders in Washington have turned their backs on the people living in our rural communities and prioritized the interests of giant companies and Wall Street instead.”
The roll out comes ahead of a multi-day swing through Iowa, where she will travel by Winnebago to visit with voters across the early caucus state and take part in the Iowa State Fair, one of the state’s most heralded political events of the year.
This next chapter in her appeal to rural voters focuses primarily on health care access, the creation of publicly owned broadband networks and the implementation of a new system that would, Warren says, ultimately raise incomes for farmers.
In addition to supporting “Medicare for All” and her already-released plans on universal childcare, green manufacturing, housing and student loan debt cancellation, Warren wrote in one of two Medium posts that she would bolster struggling medical providers with a “new designation that reimburses rural hospitals at a higher rate, relieves distance requirements, and offers flexibility of services by assessing the needs of their communities.”
Warren doubled down on her pledge from March to break up a supply chain that has become increasingly difficult for small farmers to crack.
“Federal regulators have allowed multinational companies to crush competition and seize control over key markets,” she wrote earlier this year. “Over the last few decades, giant agribusinesses have grown bigger and bigger. They’ve merged horizontally, like Dow-Dupont and Syngenta-ChemChina. And they’ve expanded vertically.”
Warren on Wednesday wrote that she plans to direct the Federal Trade Commission to block all future mergers between hospitals “unless the merging companies can show that the newly-merged entity will maintain or improve access to care” and introduce reforms to strengthen FTC oversight over health care organizations.
In terms of direct funding, Warren proposed to increase support for Community Health Centers by 15% per year over the next five years, while establishing a $25 billion dollar capital “fund to support a menu of options for improving access to care in health professional shortage areas.” She says the costs of all investments laid out in this new round would be “fully offset” by her proposed wealth tax and other hikes on corporations.
Her plan would also create an Office of Broadband Access – to operate within her proposed Department of Economic Development – that would manage an $85 billion federal grant program “to massively expand broadband access across the country.” Like most Democrats, Warren also pledged to appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality.
The proposal makes specific reference to Native American lands, providing $5 billion in funding that would be set aside specifically for 100% federal grants to tribal nations in order to expand broadband access.
Warren would address the struggles of small farmers, who have been losing out for years to larger industrial agricultural firms, by creating a new supply management program that, she wrote, would guarantee farmers a price at their cost of production. Warren would also pay farmers to fight climate change, an initiative she connected to her Green New Deal plan.
Specifically, Warren writes that she will “dedicate resources from the $400 billion R&D commitment in my Green Manufacturing Plan towards innovations for decarbonizing the agriculture sector, including a farmer-led Innovation Fund that farmers can apply to use towards pioneering new methods of sustainable farming, like agroforestry.”
“My plan will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have financial security and the freedom to do what they do best,” Warren writes. “Taxpayers won’t pay twice – once at the grocery store and once through their taxes – for overproduced commodities. We will replenish our soil and our water to chart a path towards a climate solution and achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.”
CNN’s Greg Krieg and MJ Lee contributed to this report.