Booker looks to FDR

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker says his sweeping plan for rural America is inspired by the New Deal.

Specifically, Booker, speaking to this newspaper in a phone interview, wants to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture resurrect the Civilian Conservation Corps with an aim of planting 15 billion trees in the nation by 2050 to improve the environment — and in so doing, provide jobs in rural and urban locations riven by poverty.

“It’s significantly targeting rural areas because of a lot of rural poverty,” Booker said. “That was part of the intention.”

For farmers, the legislation the U.S. senator from New Jersey developed, known as the Climate Stewardship Act, boosts funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by 10 times, from $700 million in 2019 to $7 billion in 2024.

Among other things, the bill would provide billions of dollars to incent sustainable ag practices and increase renewable energy production.

“We have got to have the boldest of plans for the revitalization of rural America,” Booker said. “For too long we have allowed rural communities to be hollowed out.”

Besides agriculture, rural hospitals and schools are financially stressed and need a more helpful role from the federal government, he said.

“My vision overall is to be the best president we’ve had for rural American going back to FDR,” Booker said.

Americans should be outraged the farmer’s share of the food dollar is 14.6 cents, he said.

“This is a crisis in our country that the producers of our food are getting squeezed,” Booker said. 

Booker, who has family ties in the former southern Iowa town of Buxton, says one of the joys of campaigning in Iowa is meeting people with ties to the land that stretch back more than a century.

“That kind of connection is soulful,” Booker said.

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