Farmer Wants Candidates To Address Rural Issues
LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:
We started the hour with politics. We're ending there, too, with a view of the election from a family farm in Colorado. As part of our election year collaboration with member stations A Nation Engaged, Luke Runyon of member station KUNC brings us this story.
LUKE RUNYON, BYLINE: Becky Ravenkamp's having a busy morning on her farm in rural Lincoln County, Colo., two hours east of Denver. Her husband Scott is out harvesting their crops.
BECKY RAVENKAMP: And so right now, they're harvesting sunflowers, and then they'll go in and plant what little bit of wheat that we raise.
RUNYON: She'd be out there, too, if I hadn't stopped by. We pull up a couple of dining room chairs, but we don't have long to talk. Ravenkamp's ready to rush off to her job at the elementary school in nearby Hugo, a town of 700. So she's juggling two jobs, right? Not even close.
RAVENKAMP: I'm the librarian. I am a farm wife. I am a mother of three children. I am also the vice president of the school board. I am involved in the church, and I'm the president of the Colorado Agri-Women.
RUNYON: That's a lot.
RUNYON: She also plans a farm conference each year and oversees the afterschool program.
RAVENKAMP: You know, in small towns, there's only enough people to get done what we can get done. If we don't take on those challenges, nobody else is going to. So we have to be self-sufficient. We have to be the self-starters. We have to be the leaders within our own communities. And I think that's just a typical small town America.
RUNYON: Towns on Colorado's eastern plains are changing, and many are becoming increasingly diverse. Immigrants are drawn to the region's agriculture and energy jobs. Ravenkamp says she's seen the shift in Lincoln County.
RAVENKAMP: We always have to remember that they're coming here not to change this country into something that they had before but because it's such a great country. And so, yeah, we might find that our communities are getting more diverse, and that would be OK because they bring different perspectives.
RUNYON: Ravenkamp's a registered Republican and says she'll be casting her vote for Donald Trump. She likes his views on gun control. Border security is important to her. But while some campaign rhetoric paints immigration as black and white, Ravenkamp sees lots of gray.
RAVENKAMP: We need to secure the border, and yet we have to have a system that works to be able to let people that contribute to our society into the country.
RUNYON: As the campaigns race from state to state holding rallies in big cities, Ravenkamp says that rural issues this election cycle have been largely overlooked. And oftentimes, she feels like the candidates aren't really talking directly to her.
RAVENKAMP: They're chasing the votes, and they're focusing on the area where they can get a bigger bang for their buck as far as the number of votes cast.
RUNYON: Still, she and her neighbors think every vote matters in this western battleground state, a place where rural voters like Becky Ravenkamp will be taking some time off from farm duties to cast a ballot. For NPR News, I'm Luke Runyon in Hugo, Colorado.
SINGH: And that story comes to us from Harvest Public Media, a public radio reporting project that focuses on agriculture and food production issues.
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