Jobs and Economy
We are being left behind. The economy is not working for us. It is time for some serious investment in our infrastructure. We can create jobs together as we rebuild our roads and bridges and move our economy into the future. In addition, Wisconsin has great opportunity in its agricultural and manufacturing sectors to build fair markets and solid supply chains, which can once again be the engine of our communities – rural and urban. We can create jobs by investing in our infrastructure at the local, county, state and national level.
We can also create jobs by bringing broadband to all households and businesses across the district. The work that it takes to lay the broadband system, as well as the entrepreneurs and businesses that will be supported with increased access to high-speed internet, is all part of a positive job creation picture.
Renewable energy also holds great potential as a job creator in our area. Solar jobs are growing as more businesses and households look to install solar panels. We also have the opportunity to create jobs in the wind power industry. Let’s support the renewable energy sector and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create good jobs for our families.
Health Care & Social Security
I support the Affordable Care Act as an important step in the right direction. However, many Americans are still falling into gaps in the system. We still have more work to do to address the issues of out-of-control prescription drug prices and costs for health care services in general. We need to treat healthcare as a right and move towards a Medicare-for-all style, single-payer system.
Social Security is an agreement between the government and the people which needs to be honored. During a time when companies are slashing pensions and millions of seniors are entering retirement age with no savings, we need to be talking about how to strengthen social security not cut it. I will work to lift the cap on taxable income so that people making over $250,000 are paying the same as everyone else. This would not only allow us to expand benefits but also extend social security’s solvency for the next 50 years.
Foreign Trade Policy
NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP, TTIP. This alphabet soup of trade deals is not supporting families and communities. We need fair trade not free trade.
Right now the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are close at hand. As citizens we need to push back and demand an economy that works for people and communities and not just for the multinational corporations.
Many promises were made about the benefits of NAFTA and CAFTA and other trade deals, as these were pushed through and fast tracked. We can see that these promises were empty. Trade deficits have only grown. Family-supporting jobs in our manufacturing sector have been outsourced and prices for agricultural goods take our farm families on a wild roller-coaster ride, with the deep price troughs far outnumbering the rewarding peaks.
My husband and I see the impacts on our own farm. My husband Nels Nelson and I dairy farm with his family in Columbia County. The price that we are paid for our milk is tied to the global markets for dairy products. Last year and now in 2016 this price is well below the cost of production.
Trade deals must be designed and negotiated so they put workers, farmers, and communities first. They must have strong provisions to limit currency manipulation. Congress’ authority to set trade policy must be protected. “Fast Track” trade authority is not acceptable. It undermines Congress’ role in protecting the interest of the American people.
Investing in our education means investing in our future. Let’s invest in quality public education, K-12 education, technical colleges, and let’s make college affordable. Supporting a strong early education system benefits not just the individuals, but society as a whole. I will fight to make sure that federal government ensures our public schools are well funded and accountable to the communities which they serve. I will also make sure that our communities have public school options from pre-K through higher education. These investments will create jobs, support business growth, and make our communities strong.
Furthermore, when we have a system which make its hard for students to complete their education and find a job in their field we hurt not just the individual but our economy as a whole. Ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and innovation are just a few of the things we lose when we don’t have a system that allows people to succeed after college. I support efforts to allow for refinancing of student loans and also efforts to make college more affordable.
As a farmer I am of course interested in good agricultural programs that support farmers and rural communities. But we also need to support eaters and everyone inbetween – from the processor, distributor and retailer. We need to make sure that we can have a vibrant food system that produces good and healthy food that is affordable and accessible to consumers and supports everyone in the supply chain. It is important to me that workers are paid good wages so that they can afford good food. And for those who need assistance to make sure that they have good food for their families – we need to support and improve our nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, WIC, Free-and-Reduced-lunches and breakfasts at schools, etc).
In Wisconsin we have a great opportunity to continue to build out our local and regional food system. This goes from support for our strong farmers markets and CSA farms – which provide good food and good connections between farmers and eaters – to work being done to help farmers increase production for the wholesale markets for regional grocery stores and foodservice customers. And we can also help support the commodities that are grown in the area and make sure we have strong markets.
The Farm Bill includes both money to support farmers and new markets but also the nutrition programs that are an investment in our children, families and elders. I will be a strong advocate for a good and timely Farm Bill in Congress.
Agriculture is an economic engine of the 6th Congressional District. Right now farmers are struggling and that is connected to the vibrancy of our rural communities. Once again we are in a low-price period – farmers are not getting paid a price for their goods that covers their cost of production. Farm prices are always a roller coaster, but the highs and lows are happening more frequently – and the lows seem to be deeper and longer than in the past. This does not work for farm businesses. We need more farmers not fewer farmers. Wisconsin, the Dairyland, is now below 10,000 dairy farms. This number will continue to decline in the wake of this price trough that we are in. Cash crop farmers are also struggling with low prices and rising input costs.
We must have good representation in Congress to advocate for family farms and rural communities. Current programs to support dairy farmers that were set up in the last Farm Bill are not working for farmers. I will be a strong advocate in Congress for farm programs that work to support farm families. There are programs that help support farmers to diversify their crops and get new and beginning farmers on the land. Let’s build on those programs to support agriculture! Viable farm businesses give an economic boost to our rural communities. This is important for economic life and also essential for the vibrancy of our rural schools, our churches, our civic organizations and our downtowns.
We face serious issues with regard to water quality and quantity in Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District. The federal government has a responsibility to protect drinking water quality for all citizens, urban and rural. Nutrient run-off is threatening water quality in our area, as well as contamination by chemicals, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals, and other pollutants. This impacts not only our ecosystem, but human health as well, making us susceptible to waterborne illness and adverse health effects from long-term exposure to pollutants. We must engage with agriculture, industry, municipalities and private residences to support the best practices to reduce nutrient runoff and pollution from both point and nonpoint sources.
Water quantity is also an issue that must be addressed collaboratively. We can not continue with a system that basically allows the person, business or entity with the biggest straw to automatically get the most water. Clean water is essential. If we do not address these issues head on and find workable solutions we will not get a second chance. The State of Wisconsin has an important role to play in regulating and enforcing water issues, but we must make sure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can do its job to protect water quality and quantity in partnership with the state and with businesses and people.
It is time to seriously invest in clean energy. Back in the mid-part of the last century the federal government played an essential role in bringing electricity to the countryside. This was necessary because the rural areas didn’t offer enough of a market for the utilities. The federal government needed to step in to make sure that the infrastructure could be built so that rural areas had electricity. We are at that point again.
We need to kick our dependence on fossil fuels. This is important for both economic reasons and also environmental reasons. Investment in renewable energy – solar installations and wind are important and the 6th Congressional District and can be a model of how this can be done. It’s time for Rural Re-Electrification.
My husband Nels and I made the move and installed a 7.3 kw system at our farm this past November. We installed 26 solar panels on one of our barns. We can cover about 50% of the electric needs from our home and the barns where we keep our young cows.
The extension of the federal tax credits and the current Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans are good, but let’s do more. It is important that the programs promoting renewable energy can benefit all people and are structured in a way to support rural communities. Join me in the push towards a renewable energy future!