The 2020 presidential election is well underway, and the first caucuses in Iowa are quickly approaching. As the primaries draw nearer, there has been increased scrutiny of the candidates and their policies. But despite the media’s ostensibly close eye, Iowa’s main source of income — the agricultural sector — has received almost no coverage.
Iowa is not alone in its lack of appropriate media coverage. Middle America as a whole simply doesn’t receive as much coverage as coastal cities, which is detrimental to both communities. Not only does a lack of coverage leave room for stereotypes to go unaddressed, it also ignores important issues that impact the U.S. as a whole. Agriculture in particular is an extremely important component of many state’s economies, as well as the national economy and foreign affairs. that goes unaddressed.
The agriculture industry makes up 5% of the U.S. economy and 11% of the country’s jobs, and is vital to the U.S.’ well-being. On the most basic level, the industry produces staple foods like corn and wheat, which constitute the basis of the country’s diet. But the methods by which farmers cultivate these crops often cause more harm than good.
One example of this is the practice of monocropping, in which farmers grow only one crop on a piece of land, as opposed to using land for multiple crops. While this yields a vast amount of food, monocropping strips the soil of its properties, which often exacerbates natural disasters. One of these impacts is the soil’s lack of ability to retain moisture, which as a result leads to flooding.
The media chooses which issues are important enough to be reported on and which ones are to be ignored. This picking and choosing almost always favors coastal cities, leaving the rural U.S. unrepresented and coastal citizens uninformed. Middle America accounts for nearly one in five people living in the U.S.; its population contains complex, diverse identities that reflect a variety of opinions and ideas. These opinions need better representation.
The media must acknowledge the voices of Middle America, especially when reporting on sectors that impact the way we fuel our cars, feed ourselves and treat the environment. By giving rural communities a voice, the media provides the public an opportunity to spark grassroots movements to influence local, state and federal policy. As one farmer notes, changing the U.S.’ farm policy “could lessen the effects of climate change and keep farmers on the land.” This would improve job security and environmental protections, both of which are factors that contribute to the entire country’s well-being.
As presidential campaigns continue, I urge the media to focus more on Middle America, particularly the agricultural sector. This would not only help educate the rest of the country, but also force candidates at all points on the political spectrum to address these issues faced by rural communities. In light of heightening tensions with foreign governments and the need to grapple with climate change, the media should focus its attention on agriculture, the starting point to addressing these issues.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Email Gabby Lozano at [email protected]