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Years ago, Robert Kennedy noted that making economic, political, and social progress is hard, for such advances require rejecting policies that sustain the establishment’s profits and power: “Progress is nice,” he said, “but its agent is change, and change has its enemies.”
His recognition that gutsy, honest leadership is necessary to confront the wealthy interests and advance the Common Good is directly applicable to one of the most important Cabinet appointments President-elect Joe Biden will make: Secretary of Agriculture.
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The media and all recent presidents have dismissed ag as a second-tier slot that essentially “belongs” to the giants of industrial agribusiness. This has enriched faraway corporate executives and absentee owners, but it’s been disastrous for farm families, small town residents, and rural vitality. While the national media and their own government look the other way, a broad, multi-racial, diversity of millions of middle- and low-income rural families face economic and social devastation. Not only are farmers being crushed by profiteering monopolies at all levels of ag, but the larger rural community is also being run over by massive polluters and pipeliners, low-wage factories, predatory retail chains, and other corporate extractors of rural wealth. The result is a countryside beset by a surge of farm closures, joblessness, Main Street bankruptcies, creeping poverty, loss of healthcare services, weather calamities due to climate change, lack of broadband, outmigration of youth, COVID-19, suicides… and a host of other plagues.
It’s time for change. And the place to begin is with the Secretary of Agriculture. Joe Biden is not exactly a firebrand progressive committed to challenging the corporate elites, but the need here is so deep, widespread, and overdue that We The People must assert our grassroots voice to overcome his instinct to put a lobbyist-approved, don’t-rock-the-corporate-boat seat warmer in this office. To learn about one possibility, go to OurRev.US/AgSec.