RACA seeks to educate and inform our members, the general public, and government officials at the federal, state and local levels of the particular issues facing rural and agricultural America.
These policy and regulatory issues include, but are not limited to: health care, labor, energy and natural resources, tax, communication, environment, finance, and agribusiness.
Trade will be key to reviving commodity prices and turning the tide. 20% of U.S. farm products are exported.
Every $1 billion of agricultural exports generates $1.27 billion in business activity and supports 8,000 jobs. $140 billion in U.S. farm goods were exported in 2017, creating a $21 billion trade surplus.
Trade is a vital component of our nation’s economy, and more particularly, the agriculture industry. In order for American producers to help the global poverty epidemic, the United States needs to participate in strong trade agreements that allow for our products to hold a competitive place within the international market.
The Rural & Agricultural Council of America regards access to healthcare as one of the most pressing issues facing the rural community today. Healthcare has long been an issue of unbalanced odds in rural regions as economic factors and geographic restraints have made access to reliable and affordable healthcare a luxury. Geographic proximity is, but should not be, a reason for many in rural America to go without medical treatment or have access only to local-level healthcare. In examining sparsely populated markets, large corporations too often see an opportunity to squeeze consumers without having to answer to any competition. The lack of available options for customers places all of the power into the hands of insurers ultimately looking to maximize their profits while passing more costs onto the consumer. Our hospitals and our doctors are now faced with providing treatment plans that are dictated by the insurance companies, based on “expertise” from a detached entity operating without public oversight. Personalized treatment plans and care have been reduced to profit margins. Our rural communities deserve to have equal access to health care providers. RACA will continue to advocate for improved medical technology and communications, increase in health care providers, and reduction of health-related costs as this issues moves forward.
The Rural & Agricultural Council of America considers the security of U.S. agriculture to be a top priority to not only America’s rural communities, but to the country as a whole. American producers need programs designed to help them stay at the forefront of global production, adapt to market changes, and sustain operations over bad years. Federal crop insurance allows farmers to be more secure in knowing that they have a safety net in the case of unexpected complications, such as drought or storms. Federal Crop Insurance does not offer annual subsidies to farmers and instead provides monetary payment when an insured farmer has need of it. American farmers do not ask for handouts from the government, our nations agricultural producers have proved that. What the federal crop insurance program provides is an acknowledgement that agricultural America in integral to our nation’s well-being and a promise that it will remain a vital concern of our government.
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TRUTH IN LABELING
RACA fully supports science-based standards and believes that the development of genetically modified foods has allowed the agricultural community to reach new horizons with crop production through an increase in seed productivity and ensuring a more sustainable environment.
RACA also recognizes the need to enforce the Food and Drug Administration's Standards of Identity on food products like nut and almond beverages, plant-based protein patties, and other alternative proteins.
The availability of safe and accessible drinking water is a right that should be guaranteed to all who live in rural America. RACA is committed to advocacy efforts on the local to the national level to ensure that water for household use does not pose a risk to the communities that depend on it. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that public water systems spend an additional $200 million per year just to remove excess nitrate to meet federal drinking water standards. But in addition to federal efforts, grassroots solutions are needed that involve small water utilities, local business, and local consumers. RACA, with experience from local to national levels of policy and regulation, has made the access to safe drinking water throughout the United States a top priority and it will remain so until this goal has been accomplished.
RACA advocates for a comprehensive tax reform that turns the antiquated and complex system into an updated, simpler version, that will help all Americans, especially businesses, file their taxes more easily and attract foreign investment to the United States, and in turn, expand economic growth.
RURAL BROADBAND AND RADIO
As both international and domestic marketplaces and trading have changed to a fully electronic interactive format, RACA believes that it is vital that those across rural America have access to those platforms by which they may compete with global and urban competitors. This includes but is not limited to broadband capabilities, access to reliable wireless and high speed internet access and consistent coverage within mobile networks. Collaborating on solutions for closing the digital divide for rural communities is a top priority for RACA.
Read our White Paper: Connecting Rural America to Reliable and Affordable Broadband
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The Rural & Agricultural Council of America (RACA) is committed to the multiple use of rangelands, ensuring that all those that rely on the rangelands have access to the resource. This includes not only a diverse array of human interests but also the preservation of the environment and native animal well-being. The American Rangeland is fundamental to much of rural America and affects and is affected by many different issues, such as the following:
Desertification: On the rangelands, a combination of human activities and natural processes have led to the reduction of soil productivity and quality. RACA is committed to supporting conservation efforts to rehabilitate affected lands and prevent further desertification.
Livestock Grazing: RACA supports the responsible use of rangelands for the purposes of livestock grazes, managed on the basis of science-based standards. Beyond the benefits conferred on livestock and livestock producers, managed grazing can also have positive impacts on the rangelands themselves, diminishing the abundance of flammable gasses which contribute to the severity of wildfires.
Greater Sage Grouse Conservation: RACA understands the importance of sage grouse conservation and the momentous efforts that went into preventing the animal from being listing on the endangered species list. The Bureau of Land Management’s sage grouse conservation plan does require improvement, but amending and starting over leads to years of more regulatory process and uncertainty. We believe much can be improved upon through working together—ranchers, states and federal government - without going through a lengthy, legal and highly contentious process.
Wild Horse & Burro Management: RACA believes the overpopulation of wild horses & burros on federal rangelands to be a significant problem. The horses negatively impact the rangelands themselves as well as the ability of native species to survive on the rangeland. In addition, the significant overpopulation has led to the suffering of the horses themselves, whose needs cannot be met by the environment they have overgrazed. RACA is in support of granting the BLM further option in dealing with the wild horse problem including agency transfer, large-scale gathers, sterilization, and unrestricted sale.
RACA supports finding ways to decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and advance markets for clean energy, in turn creating jobs for rural America in domestic energy industries.
RACA members include both public and private landowners, and we will continue to work to ensure a balanced and fair approach to the management of our public lands, and their relationship with their private-land neighbors.
RACA recognizes the immense opportunity and responsibility held within the vast swaths of lands owned equally by each and every American citizen. Public lands are an uniquely American experience, allowing individuals access to remote and wild landscapes and fisheries.
The multi-use policy that governs these lands gives sportsmen and women, livestock producers, hikers, bikers, equestrians, and others equal opportunity to access and enjoy these public places. RACA will continue to work with lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels to advance equal access opportunities for all those wishing to carry on our nation's outdoor heritage. Keeping these public areas open and accessible to their "owners" is of the utmost importance to our members.