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Convening the Rural Policy Action Summit

In late April 2023, Rural Democracy Initiative met with over fifty rural advocates in Omaha, Nebraska to identify key federal and state policies designed to support rural people and the places they live. It was incredibly invigorating to spend time with these remarkable leaders from around the country.

We co-hosted the 2023 Rural Policy Action Summit with five organizations in our network: Health Care for America Now, People’s Action, Education Fund, Farm Action, and State Innovation Exchange. After the Summit we have new tools and relationships and are better positioned to work together to advocate for our most urgent priorities.

Rosemary Ketchum

Photo Above: Brandon Byrd, Georgia Ignite Lead Organizer for New Georgia Project; Left: Siena Chrisman of State Innovation Exchange, Kellon Patey of People’s Action, and Caitlin Cromwell of Northern Plains Resource Council discuss policy goals; Right: Rosemary Ketchum, Councilwoman of Wheeling City, West Virginia


The event was also an opportunity to amplify our call for legislation and executive action that expand the tools and resources for rural small businesses, family farmers, and our communities. Up North News covered the Summit in the context of the Farm Bill and threats to cut programs that benefit working families. Public News Service created a radio story featuring two of our Wisconsin grantees that attended the Summit. RDI Executive Director Sarah Jaynes also published an editorial in the Daily Yonder, making the case for the profound potential of good policy to strengthen rural communities.

The 2023 Summit builds on the 2021 Rural Policy Action Report and the 2022 Blueprint for Rural Policy Action in the States. Our network widely publicized and shared the reports with policymakers and decision-makers. In the two years since the 2021 Report, the Biden Administration and leaders in Congress have passed many of the key priorities.

The Summit highlighted the policy progress, updated today’s priorities, and identified new opportunities, especially leveraging federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and other policies to invest in rural-led solutions for economic prosperity, climate change, and quality of life.