Our call to action

Rural America is ready, and thoughtful policies can make a big difference. Rural America has seen decades of destructive economic decline in many communities, often driven by federal and state policy priorities that have widened disparities. Rural people – more diverse and supportive of progressive policies than many understand – are eager for change and could be part of a growing base for bold ideas that would improve life for all Americans. We offer this call to action to focus attention on re-engaging rural communities in a broader and more powerful progressive movement.

There’s no shortage of reports on the growing disparities in rural America and the policies that can reverse these trends. And we hope you’ll read all of them. Our call to action also recommends specific policies that are urgently needed, but we’re advocating for even more. We’re asking our progressive partners to truly “see” rural communities, to include them, and to work with rural leaders to unite – across race, class, and place – around common values and shared challenges.

The policy summit – How we arrived at this call to action

The Rural Democracy Initiative, Family Farm Action, and ruralorganizing.org collaborated to organize and co-host a virtual rural policy summit. Starting in the early weeks of 2021, we engaged rural advocates from across policy sectors and around the country to hear about their experiences working in rural communities. We heard from organizers in Indigenous communities, healthcare advocates organizing in mountain communities, family farm advocates and rural educators in the Midwest, advocates for farmworkers, and rural Black leaders from the South. Through 35 in-depth interviews with policy leaders, six group discussions by policy sector, and a two-day convening of over 60 experts and organizers, we started a dialogue about policies that would improve rural people’s lives.


This resulting call to action outlines many of the most significant and urgent challenges facing rural people today. Our call to action makes practical and actionable recommendations that advocates, policymakers, and funders can pursue immediately. This is by no means a comprehensive list of every problem rural communities face, nor are the recommendations in the report the only solutions to these complex problems. We hope this call to action can accelerate near-term policy wins for rural America and spark a bigger conversation about including these communities. We believe it empowers progressive leaders with strategic, popular and critical policy tools that we can unite behind and build power around.