press release


News from Progress Michigan

July 8, 2021 

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574,

Rural Policy Action Report Advances Progressive Vision for Rural Michigan, America

Report urges profound investment in rural communities to advance equity and resilience

MICHIGAN – A national collaborative of rural policy and advocacy organizations recently released the “2021 Rural Policy Action Report,” outlining specific investments, policy improvements, and regulatory reforms designed to improve our economy and infrastructure, and ensure equity for rural communities. Progress Michigan supports the policy priorities identified by rural communities and will help elevate these issues in the media over the next several months.

“This rural federal policy action agenda reflects the wide diversity of rural people, rural needs and rural experience that includes racial and social equity, a fairer economy, jobs, and infrastructure” said Sam Inglot, deputy director of Progress Michigan. “We now have a roadmap for rural policy, and we hope Michigan will prioritize these plans to bring overdue change for rural communities. It’s time to stop repeating age-old myths about rural Michigan, and this report does a great job of identifying where we can address and confront these misconceptions.” 

Participating groups say this report is unique because it cuts across multiple sectors, challenging policymakers to expand their notion of rural policy. “Rural policy is so much more than debates about agriculture exports and farm subsidies. Michigan’s diverse and large rural population deserves an approach that puts forward environmental justice, economic viability and infrastructure, health care access, and the importance of a more active public sector at the center of the conversation,” said Inglot.   

Here are a few highlights from the 2021 Rural Policy Action Report and its benefits for Michiganders:                                      

End historic discrimination

  • Michiganders are having their rights threatened due to extreme anti-voter bills under consideration that will create barriers for voters of color, rural voters, and voters with disabilities. The For the People Act addresses ethics transparency and makes sure our elections are accessible for everyone at a time when they are at risk here.
  • Because of our robust agriculture, Michigan ranked seventh nationwide in 2020 for temporary immigrant workers. Making sure migrant workers get the dignity and respect they deserve is crucial for our well-being as a state, which the Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides.
  • Our government must extend fairness towards tribal governments by expanding accessibility to public services, increasing resources for tribal infrastructure and economic development, and respecting tribal treaty rights. This includes preserving the ability to fish and the Great Lakes from unaccountable corporate polluters.

Invest in rural communities

  • Our water infrastructureroads and bridgeshousinglocal food systemsschoolshealth care, and other sectors in rural Michigan have been underfunded for too long, while local governments struggle to meet capacity.
  • In Michigan, the top five counties with the worst social determinants of health outcomes were all rural. Policies like the Save Rural Hospitals Act would create fairness in Medicaid payments, more beds in hospitals, and get people the services they need.
  • Additionally, the Rebuild Rural America Act would establish a $50-billion grant fund, training and technical support, a state-by-state rural innovation and partnership administration to coordinate efforts, and a “Rural Future Corps” to expand services.

Rein in corporate monopolies and prioritize working people and locally owned businesses 

  • Agribusiness consolidation in Michigan and across the country has meant fewer in-state processors, producers, and equipment suppliers, all of which depress farmers’ incomes.
  • We should pass the Farm System Reform Act, a bill that would hold corporate agribusinesses accountable for their pollution, enact a factory farm moratorium, help with the transition to more sustainable livestock production, and mandate Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL) for food products.
  • We should also pass the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act as the first step towards dealing with extreme levels of consolidation in the agriculture sector.

Build a rural economy that prioritizes community and is sustainable, not extractive

  • The top 10 counties by unemployment rate in Michigan are all considered rural. Rural economic development and job training must prioritize “rural jobs.” Too often, economic development and job training programs prepare workers and entrepreneurs to leave rural communities, rather than creating opportunities to stay and thrive.
  • Fossil fuel corporations, giant utility firms, and other industries haven’t delivered on providing stable jobs and ensuring fairness in the marketplace. It’s time to look at reforming tax credits for renewable energy, including supporting electrical cooperatives.

The full report can be found here: