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Bullock calls for 'fair shot' for rural communities

Steve Bullock, governor of Montana and a Democratic presidential candidate, talks with journalists Monday at the annual Labor Day picnic hosted by the Hawkeye Area Labor Council at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Bullock’s plan for rural America addresses broadband access, food deserts and renewable energy as well as agriculture. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Steve Bullock, governor of Montana and a Democratic presidential candidate, talks with journalists Monday at the annual Labor Day picnic hosted by the Hawkeye Area Labor Council at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Bullock’s plan for rural America addresses broadband access, food deserts and renewable energy as well as agriculture. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is calling for an end to the trade war with China to restore international markets and rebuild alliances to ensure trade stability.

In “Fair Shot for Rural America,” Bullock lays out his solution to President Donald Trump’s trade war, which he said has reduced Chinese purchases of American products by 60 percent since 2017.

In Iowa, losses in gross state product could reach $2 billion and ethanol prices have dropped 2 percent, according to Bullock. Iowa now has more agricultural debt than any other state, and delinquent loan payments have quadrupled since 2014, he said.

As part of his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Bullock frequently points out he is the only candidate who has won a statewide election in a state that voted for Trump. Winning back red states, including Iowa, will be key to a Democratic win in 2020, he said.

It’s not just agriculture that has been affected, Bullock said. His plan also addresses food deserts, crop insurance, consolidation in ag-related industries, conservation, renewable energy and transportation.

He points out that since 2011, rural job growth by county has been in the bottom 25 percent, 97 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and more than one-fifth — including 17 in Iowa — are in danger of closing.

Bullock wants to provide broadband access, noting that more than 31 percent of rural communities do not have broadband access at home.

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He also wants to drive rural entrepreneurship with rural opportunity zones and increase low-interest loans and grants to farmers. His plan also addresses water quality, supporting local post offices and keeping hospitals open.

His plan is available here.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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