What the Future of Rural America Could Look Like After Trump
A Wisconsin farmer works his field outside Marshall in early August. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Rural America Fund to focus on harm done by trade wars and mismanagement, hurting Main Street in small communities

Unlike many other political groups that appear out of thin air with generic names and amorphous negative advertising, the Rural America Fund has a clear focus as it ramps up its Wisconsin operation: to highlight what it says is President Donald Trump’s role in a record number of farm bankruptcies and other ways America’s small communities are being left behind.

“The Wisconsin steering committee will serve as an alternative voice to misinformation and serve as an advocate for policies that make a difference for the future of our rural communities,” said Darin Von Ruden, a Wisconsin steering committee member from Vernon County. “Wisconsin’s rural economy has been devastated by the Trump Administration’s missteps, and it’s time to turn the corner.”

Operating as well in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, Rural America Fund organizers say they will advocate for policies that benefit many sectors of rural America besides farmers: ranchers, manufacturers, Main Street merchants, educators, health care and more. 

“Our rural communities are core to Wisconsin’s identity,” said Clark County resident and steering committee member Mindy Walker, “and it’s time to elect new leadership who will smartly invest in rural education, manufacturing, and agriculture.” 

The group will have a focus beyond the presidential race, as evidenced by the steering committee’s inclusion of former Appeals Court judge and state Assembly representative Gary Sherman of Bayfield County.

“The (Republican) majority in the Wisconsin Legislature has also abdicated its responsibility to rural Wisconsin,” Sherman said, “with their blind fealty to a failed Administration, flawed leadership at the top, and a complete inability to address the concerns of our communities.”

The group’s website includes a video  in which Pennsylvania farmer Theron Noble sums up the group’s overall message.

“In 2016, President [Trump] spoke to rural Pennsylvanians about two things that hit home: ‘draining the swamp’ and infrastructure,” Noble says. “Four years later, our roads and bridges are still crumbling, we will (Is this supposed to be still?) suffer from lack of connectivity, both broadband, internet, and cell phone service. Meanwhile, we learn the swamp has only gotten larger. It’s time to get better.”