Supporting Nevada’s Rural Communities Through COVID-19
Long before COVID-19, Trump himself has been a pandemic for rural America. First, he destroyed agriculture with his tariff and trade policies in the middle of the 2018 crop year. He tried buying off farmers with payments due to “unfair trade practices with China”, but that only went so far. Farmers want trade, not aid. Then he signed a new Farm Bill that gives most of the assistance to the Corporate Farms instead of the family farms that are the backbone of rural America.
Last week, I hosted a virtual “meet and greet” with voters to talk about Nevada’s rural communities and the unique risks they’re facing with the Coronavirus. Rural communities have older populations that are more susceptible to the virus; hospitals and clinics lacking staffing and equipment; First Responders lack training; and Indian Health Services lacking sufficient budgeting for the pandemic. Lack of broadband cripples telemedicine in many rural areas, and makes digital distance learning near impossible for rural students. The smaller tax bases also hinder rural communities’ abilities and resources in addressing the virus.
As someone who grew up on a family farm and went to school in a small community, I understand the challenges of rural Nevada. Our family had to raise its own food or hunt for it. That experience led me to the Nevada Rural Development Council where I helped rural residents start and expand their small businesses. It gave me the opportunity to help rural communities develop their short-term and long-term plans and local economies.
In 2009, I was nominated as the State Executive Director of the NV’s Farm Service Agency of the USDA by the President. I helped farmers, ranchers, and Tribal producers get through years of crippling drought. I expanded our lending services across the state, reduced our civil rights claims to zero, helped develop program policy, and prepared farmers and ranchers for several new Farm Bills.
I’m often reminded how difficult it is for Democrats to win offices in the rurals, but I believe it is possible in 2020. This Administration has failed Ag and rural America. In addition to the economic hit that has resulted in a 50% drop in farm income since the record in 2013, Trump has weakened the Affordable Care Act that has resulted in less healthcare security and services in rural Nevada. Representative Mark Amodei has voted repeatedly to weaken the ACA and has voted against pre-existing conditions. These actions discourage current and future generations from staying in or moving to our rural communities.
Clint Koble in Elko, NV 2018
Recognizing that rural Nevada is a special place and that it needs to be treated accordingly, is a good start. Policies need to be passed that enhance the quality of life in rural Nevada, not detract from it. I will fight for better education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship, and economic investment in rural Nevada. I will work hard for rural Nevada to survive and thrive. In fact, this past weekend, I spent hours on the phone with miners in Elko to ensure their employers were taking necessary precautions to curb their risk of contracting the Coronavirus. I’m fighting hard because rural Nevada is home to me.
When I have the honor of representing Northern Nevada in U.S. Congress, I want to join the House Agriculture, Education and Labor, Budget, and Appropriations Committees. I want to make sure that the laws beings passed are good for Nevada’s rural communities and enhance their quality of life. I want to make sure they have access to quality education and healthcare. I want to make sure they have high-speed internet access to keep them connected, educated, and in business. I want to make sure our rural families and economies continue to thrive.
I believe championing our miners, farmers and our rural communities is key to Nevada’s economy.