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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Cory Booker visits Grinnell, talks big ag and self-imposed funding deadline

Cory Booker addresses a crowd at Saints Rest. Photo by Eva Hill.

U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential primary candidate Cory Booker held a town hall event on Saturday, September 21 in Saints Rest Coffee House. After the event, S&B Features editor Eva Hill ’22 spoke briefly to Booker about his policy plans and the upcoming election.


The S&B: Your campaign released a memo today saying that if you don’t hit a $1.7-million-dollar fundraising threshold by September 30, then you won’t have a path to the candidacy. If you don’t meet that threshold, what’s the next step?


U.S. Senator Cory Booker: There is no if. We must, and I’m going to put myself in the state where I believe we will. Today we’ve raised about 15% of the way there, on the first of the 10 days, so we’re above pace to get there, we’re seeing a ground swell, but we need more, so every day we’re going to work meet that goal, and if we don’t, we’ll pull together and have to have a very serious conversation about whether we should even continue in this race.


The S&B: And when would that conversation happen?


CB: You can call me the night of September 30th at midnight. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it then, and it might continue for a long time after that, but I really believe we can make this if people who believe in my voice, believe that I should be in this race … we can overcome this challenge. We’ve overcome challenges before, to get on the debate stage, to do things like that, so I’m hoping that we can beat this challenge.


The S&B: You’re the only vegan candidate in the field, and you’ve spoken previously about the environmental and ethical implications of industrial farming. If you were to be elected President, what policies would you put in place to regulate big agriculture?


CB: I would stop subsidizing these practices and pollution that’s hurting our country. Independent family farmers in Iowa, they’re stewards of the land, their practices go back generations. These are folks who are very different than these massive CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms] that we incentivize. As a senator, I’ve already been fighting against this, whether it’s a moratorium on corporate consolidation that’s allowing these firms to gobble each other up and engage in more practices that are questionable and anti-competitive. I’ve been fighting for stopping abuse of antibiotics in animals. So just know that as President, I’m going to be very conscious of these issues and make sure that we are a country that isn’t subsidizing practices that don’t accord with the spirit of this country, the well-being of this country, but even more than that, we can’t accord with practices that are polluting this country, like these massive CAFOs do and their lagoons of feces that are sprayed onto fields and poisoning our waters and our communities. I believe in independent family farmers, I believe in the long-standing heritage of this country, and I believe these massive multinational corporate farms, if they’re engaging in practices that are damaging this nation’s ecology or, frankly, breaking laws, we should hold them accountable.


The S&B: What would you say to farmers who are concerned that policies like that would hurt their ability to make a living?


CB: Every independent family farmer I’ve met with around the state and around the Midwest has been complaining to me about corporate consolidation. I had a Republican farmer, I think it was in Western Illinois, who complained to me about how since a CAFO opened up near his farm, he can’t drink out of his well anymore, he can’t fish out of his creek anymore. So these are practices that the great farmers of our country don’t engage in, and don’t necessarily think are right, so I will be one of the best presidents ever for farmers, because in our environmental justice bill, we put tremendous resources into supporting farmers and giving them incentives to put cover crops on to pull carbon out of the air, the same way Iowa farmers right now are getting incentives around having windmills on their land. We put explicitly [in the bill] about funding certain USDA programs that are helping farmers and helping them be part of the solution. I think that if you empower farmers in America, we can not only deal with climate change, we can actually empower them economically in rural areas and have more justice on a number of different levels – economic justice, environmental justice, and rural justice. I know that I’m pro-farmer, and I met with the [National Farmers’ Union] this past week in Washington, D.C., and they gave me an award for my advocacy and my work, so I’m confident that Iowa farmers will have an ally and one of the best Presidents they’ve ever had.


The S&B: Regarding healthcare, you’ve previously talked about your support for Medicare for All, but also for a “pragmatic” approach that doesn’t immediately get rid of private health insurance. If you had to, today, reveal a comprehensive plan of healthcare policy, what would it consist of?


CB: Well, we’ve spoken to a comprehensive plan this whole campaign, and we’ve spoken to the urgent need to lower prescription drug costs, to make sure that we are controlling costs for Americans across the board. I believe that the first step to get there is most likely going to be a public option, and we’ve talked a lot in detail about that. The goal is what’s important. Every American should have affordable, quality health insurance. Healthcare should be a right in this nation, and that’s what we will continue to fight for, and as president, I believe I’ll be the person that can best get us towards that goal.


The S&B: Finally, why are you the best candidate for this race, in this year, against this president?


CB: Because after his years of moral vandalism and tearing our country apart and pitting us against each other, we need a president that can pull us back together, that can help us heal, that can help to reignite activism and engagement. We have to have the person from our party that can best unite Democrats and help to unite a larger coalition to help beat this president. I’m the best person to do that – my whole career has been running at tough problems and pulling people together to address them, and so I know that the fullness of the base of the Democratic party that I can appeal to, excite, ignite in this election, that I can reach out to people who are independents, and even those Republicans who are upset with this president. We need to have a movement election, and a president who’s going to recognize that it’s not just about a her or him, it’s about making sure that we have an election that transforms our politics and creates the conditions necessary to create dramatic change, because we know that Washington needs dramatic change, and we need dramatic change around this country to create greater justice and opportunity for all.

Cory Booker addresses a crowd at Saints Rest. Photo by Eva Hill.
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