(1.) Invest. Edwards would create a publicly financed Rural Economic Advancement Challenge Fund to help small businesses grow in rural areas.
(2.) Energy. Edwards would establish a publicly funded New Energy Economy Fund to finance renewable energy sources such as ethanol, bio- diesel and solar. He would require all new cars to run on both gasoline and E85 ethanol and require 25 percent of chain gas stations to carry E85. He also would require that 25 percent of electricity in the United States be generated from renewable resources by 2025.
(3.) Fairness for farmers. Supports strict enforcement of laws against anti-competitive mergers, unfair pricing and country-of-origin laws. He would enact a strong ban on packer ownership to stop the spread of large corporate hog interests, and he supports a national moratorium on construction or expansion of hog farm lagoons.
(4.) Rural broadband. Edwards would create a national broadband map to identify gaps in availability, price and speed. He would require telephone and cable companies not to discriminate against rural communications in building their broadband networks.
(5.) Banking. He would strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act to prevent banks from discriminating against rural areas in loan practices.
(6.) Federal funds. Edwards says more than half of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $70 billion in rural development funds goes to urban areas. He would make sure more goes to rural areas.
(7.) Education. Edwards would push for higher pay for teachers in rural areas and provide college scholarships to children in poor rural areas.
(8.) Health care. Edwards is proposing a universal health care plan and supports publicly funded expansion of telemedicine to help rural areas.
(Christensen reports for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.)