May 20, 2020
Joe Biden Roundtable Transcript: Biden Holds Roundtable on Rural Issues
Joe Biden held a May 20 roundtable on rural issues in Wisconsin. Read the full transcript of his virtual video conference event.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
Well, Ron, thanks. And thanks for that generous introduction. I appreciate you referencing what I’ve been through, but the truth is that… and I’m so happy your son, God love him, it looks like you’re okay. But 90,000 dead so far from this virus, and it’s climbing. It’s going to get higher. And like you, and like all the people on this panel, I think of all those mothers and fathers, husbands and wives who… moms and dads who’ve just been the victims of this virus. And it’s going to get much higher, it’s going to go higher. And the difference here is so many, especially if they’re losing a parent, an older person, those folks are taking their last breaths alone.
Joe Biden: (01:06)
They’re with a nurse in an ICU unit, holding a tablet up or a phone to say goodbye. And when you’ve been the recipient of so much kindness and so much empathy and support, it’s real easy to return it. You know what it means. But that’s what you’ve been doing all along, Ron. Thanks for doing this today, and for your remarkable leadership. I know I measure what happens, how the leaders that I’ve served with, based on not only whether they’re bright as hell and know what to do, but whether their feeling, whether their judgment about what to do comes from their gut or their head. I trust people who start with their gut, like the people you have on the panel. Their gut, and they have a head bright enough to know what to do about that gut feeling.
Joe Biden: (02:08)
People arrive at it purely from an intellectual standpoint, they’re not always the ones that can be counted on to stay through right at the very end when it gets really tough. And I just want to think you, because you’ve lead with your heart and your head, and I really mean that. I don’t want to turn this into the Mutual Admiration Society, but there’s leaders we know in the House and the Senate, and I’ve served with many, many of them, who have that special thing. Republicans as well as Democrats, where it starts here in the gut and it moves to the head. And that’s what you do.
Joe Biden: (02:39)
And everybody, I want to thank you for taking the time to be on this and to speak with me today. First and foremost, I hope that all of you joining us today and your families are staying safe and healthy. It’s an incredibly anxious moment for our nation and quite frankly, for the world. And my prayers, and I’m sure yours as well are with all those who are scared, who are sick, who are grieving, who are struggling just to get by.
Joe Biden: (03:06)
This crisis has touched every country and every community and every community in America, but also countries around the world. And in many rural communities especially, and by the way, most people don’t realize I come from a rural state. They think Delaware is in the East, it must be one of those big eastern… They know it’s a small state, but it must be an eastern state that is very congested. Truth of the matter is, our largest city in the state is a little over 150,000 people and our next largest is 22,000. And we’re an agricultural state. On the Delmarva Peninsula, it’s a $5 billion industry, agriculture. Soybeans mainly and also chickens. It’s a big, big industry for us. So my community hospital is having staying open.
Joe Biden: (03:59)
They’re having trouble attracting docs, they’re having trouble getting reimbursed. Our farmers are in trouble, and bankruptcies are real. And the pain has been especially profound in rural America. As you all know though, it wasn’t easy for rural American families before this crisis hit, before COVID-19. Wisconsin lost 10% of the dairy farmers in 2019, the largest drop since the state started tracking this. More than 800 dairy farms across the state went out of business. And according to the American Farm Bureau, Wisconsin now leads the nation in farm bankruptcies, and you all know the ripple effect that has with farm closures. It has a ripple effect not just on the farmers and their families, but on the entire community.
Joe Biden: (04:50)
Let alone more than 800 of these. Look, each one is a tragedy, and so much of that devastation is directly attributable to I think the disastrous trade war the President got us into. It didn’t just hit farmers. It also raised the price of food, beer, clothing, appliances for every consumer, and how many families could use that money right now? How many farmers would be in a better spot if their profits hadn’t vanished? Because Trump goaded our trade partners into placing brutal tariffs on American cheese.
Joe Biden: (05:25)
Look, bringing us back from the brink is going to require a monumental effort. We have to put an end to the health crisis that has already cost us more than I said, 90,000 lives. American lives, and we have to bring back the economy. When more than 36 million people have already lost their jobs, 36 million, and we can’t ignore the crisis that’s already taking shape in rural America before the virus hit. Because when rural communities struggle and young people are forced to leave Eau Claire for example, or Warrens or Lacrosse, that’s a warning sign to all of us. That’s the central premise of America has been broken.
Joe Biden: (06:07)
That’s why I’m committed to restoring the promise of the middle class for rural America and rural Americans. I put forward an ambitious plan, one that recognized something that I don’t think the present President does. Farmers aren’t looking for a payoff, they’re looking for an opportunity. And we’re going to create a new bio-based multi-manufacturing job environment to deal farmers in on the benefits of a changing economy.
Joe Biden: (06:38)
We’re going to invest, I’ve been pushing this for a while and you have too, Ron, a $20 billion expansion in broadband across rural areas so that every child has a chance to thrive, every business has a chance to compete. Every hospital has a chance to do telemedicine. We’re also going to support smart legislation to get rural communities back on track. Senator Baldwin introduced a bipartisan bill that would help stabilize rural economies and repair food supply chains that have been disrupted by this pandemic.
Joe Biden: (07:07)
That type of action is critical now. There’s a whole lot more to my plan and others, but here’s the principle that underlines it all. Rural communities power our nation. They feed our bodies, they fuel our engines. They’re the stewards that protect our lands, and we cannot sustain an economy that exact value from them without ever sharing in the rewards. It doesn’t make sense from an economic perspective. And look, but more than that, it goes to the character of the country. Our fates are bound together now more than they’ve ever been, and people are beginning to realize it. And the only way we’re going to come through this crisis and rebuild our economy is by ensuring that we leave no one, no community behind.
Joe Biden: (07:55)
We need leadership and policies that reflect that truth because American people, they already get it. They’ve never let this country down given half the chance. And especially in the face of COVID-19, we’re seeing incredible American grit and the spirit of America shine through and you’re a big part of that. So I want to thank you all for keeping the faith, I’m looking forward to our conversation and any advice you have for me as well, I’m wide open. Look, rural America is America, is where our values emanate from. It really matters, and we’ve got to make it stronger.
Ron Kind: (08:35)
Well, thank you Mr. Vice President, for those comments, for your leadership through all this and you’ve got a great panel now to get some feedback from and to listen to and engage. So let me go to our first panelist, Mary [Freibert 00:08:46]. I’ve known Mary for a number of years. She’s CEO of Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center in Cashton, Wisconsin.
Ron Kind: (08:53)
It’s a small, rural community a little bit east of Lacrosse up in the bluff. Beautiful area, also the center of the renewable energy capital of Wisconsin right now. It’s been amazing what they’ve done. But Mary in her position has been on the frontline, servicing at-risk individuals, families, those who have a more difficult time accessing the healthcare system in rural Wisconsin. She brings a depth of knowledge and understanding that I’ve relied upon throughout the years. So, Mary, thanks for joining us and I’ll hand the screen over to you now.
Mary Freibert: (09:26)
Awesome. Thank you, Congressman Kind. Thank you too, Vice President Biden for the opportunity to talk today. The issues that we are facing at the Community Health Center are significant on a normal day. During this time of the pandemic, it’s been seriously overwhelming. But we are proud and excited to continue to do the work and the hard work to try and protect the people of this region. Last year, I’ll give you a little background on the health center. Last year, we served 7,600 patients with about 23,000 visits.
Mary Freibert: (10:06)
We have medical, dental, mental health services, we have acupuncture, chiropractor, massage therapy. We have an on-site pharmacy, and the people that we are privileged to serve come from all walks of life. Urban, more urban I guess for us, is people from the city of Lacrosse, which is about 50,000 and we serve people from Cashton, which is 1,100. That’s our home base, our mothership. We also have a clinic in the village of Norwalk. Norwalk is home to a meatpacking plant. We have a large number of new immigrant workers, primarily from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. We have a lot of patients who are Amish, so they’re old order Amish relying on horse and buggies.
Mary Freibert: (10:56)
And so for 26 years, the health center has been here providing services to those patients and those individuals and we’re super excited to continue to do that. The thing that’s been overwhelming for us has been the pandemic. So I feel like I would be able to share with you the normal, day to day work that we do, but right now, we’re in the midst of trying to address the focus that we need to take on preventing the spread of highly infectious disease.
Mary Freibert: (11:28)
You mentioned Mr. Vice President, the 90,000 people that have died. I think of that, and that’s been in less than three months, and the fact that there isn’t a comprehensive national plan for testing, and there hasn’t been supplies that are needed. It feels like unforced errors and it’s preventable and that is tragic, and I get very sad. People talk about the healthcare workers, and we’re privileged to employ 80 people and they’re out there doing the work every day. I do not want any of our employees or any people that work at the critical access hospitals in Viroqua or Sparta or the hospitals in Lacrosse, I don’t want people to be in the midst of doing what they do best, which is providing healthcare services, but not having adequate equipment and supplies.
Mary Freibert: (12:23)
And when you hear conversations about healthcare workers putting their lives on the line and going in as heroic battlers, it doesn’t have to be that way. Had we had adequate PPE, had we had an adequate supply of reagents and test supplies, had we had a comprehensive plan that was put in place, immediately, this could have been avoided. That said, we have what we have. And so in rural Wisconsin, we’re in a low incidence community right now and we want to keep it that way. So what we’re actually doing today as I speak is doing a community testing event. It’s drive-up testing for asymptomatic individuals. The goal is to identify people who have the virus if they’re ill and identify people who have the virus if they don’t know if they’re ill.
Mary Freibert: (13:23)
And so testing and contact tracking through the local public health departments and everybody else who’s working on that treatment and support for those folks, until we get to the point until we have a vaccine, this is what we need to continue to do and it shouldn’t be a fight for rural communities to find contact individuals and to find testing supplies. And unfortunately, it has been a bit of a fight, but what rural does best is sort of stand and deliver. Right? You give us a problem, and we’ll do it.
Mary Freibert: (14:03)
The people who have been working through this entire time are the people who we want to make sure we give the opportunity to understand the status, so the people who’ve been at the grocery stores and the hardware store, and people who have been driving truck and farmers and people as healthcare workers, and local volunteer EMTs and firefighters. Those are the folks that we want to make sure have the ability to understand their virus status, and we want to do that as many times as we need to do that to make sure that the community stays safe.
Mary Freibert: (14:46)
Reducing the spread was effective. We lowered, we flattened the curve and now we’re dealing with a constant presence of a virus, and that’s public health and we know how to handle that. We need to follow the science, we need to listen to the epidemiologists, we need to listen to public health, we need to support primary care, community health center, primary care, that’s what we’re all about. So, those are the things that we’re most interested in working on. I think that just the other point I wanted to make, with this god awful economic downturn we’ve hit, this recession that’s moving into the potential of a depression, we have a lot more people who have lost employer-based health insurance coverage.
Mary Freibert: (15:38)
The Kaiser Foundation, I was just reading, came out with a study that said they expect 26 and a half million people to lose employer-based healthcare coverage. When we have a strong Medicaid program, when we have a strong Affordable Care Act program, that gives people coverage. And the Kaiser Foundation said it’s 12.7 million are eligible for Medicaid. Let’s get those people enrolled. The health center is committed to making sure people are enrolled in Medicaid. Wonderful program, strongly effective for people in rural communities.
Mary Freibert: (16:17)
And then the Foundation also said that over eight million are potentially eligible for Affordable Care Act enrollment, and right now, at a time when those programs are under stress and strain and a bit of attack is exactly the time that the large insurers are starting to come back to it. So we have to have a strong Affordable Care Act. We have to have strong Medicaid coverage, because people are going to be grappling with illness and wanting to stay healthy and we right now have an employer-based insurance program that supports healthcare services and we want to make sure to get those. So, I’m appreciative of the opportunity to talk with you this morning about some of those issues.
Joe Biden: (17:03)
Mary, there’s a lot you’ve raised. I’m going to just ask you one question now, and for insight and then maybe get to the rest and we can have a conversation. But one of the things I’m hearing as I do these round tables around the country, no matter where I am, whether it’s in the Northeast or out West or in the Southeast, is that community health centers are… They’ve always been under stress and reimbursement is a big thing. As you pointed out, you have 80 employees. You also affect the health of the economy in the town you’re in. It makes a big difference. You’re not on the verge of closing, but in my state and in many other states, a lot of community health centers, rural hospitals have closed down because they’re not getting reimbursed, they can’t stay open. The compensation is not the same.
Joe Biden: (17:58)
So, if you don’t want to answer now, think about it. But two questions. One, I hear an awful lot about the increased need for mental healthcare. Mental healthcare, that it’s rising significantly, and the resources available to provide that kind of care, because when we did the Affordable Care Act, we made sure there was a one to one correlation between… There’s no distinction between breaking your arm and having a mental health problem. They’re both health problems and there should not be a stigma attached.
Joe Biden: (18:31)
So if you could talk to me at some point a little bit about what you see in the last four months, if there’s been a rise, and number two, if in fact you expect things to change for the good or the bad in the meantime. And what that does, and how that impacts on your resources. And secondly, one of the things that I’ve been pushing for a long time is $20 billion for rural broadband, to make sure that every kid has access to online-
Joe Biden: (19:03)
And to make sure that every kid has access to online learning and because they have access to high speed broadband, every business can make their judgements to know what’s going on in the rest of the state, the rest of the world. As well as you being able to have telemedicine be part of the concerns that are available, that the kind of help you could provide to the very rural areas that extend beyond you, to those very small towns, from everything from accidents to advice. And so, but there’s a lot more, but do you want to respond to those now, or should I go on to the next?
I’m happy to respond to those and actually the mental health question and the telemedicine question fit together for us right now. So the village that we’re in, Cashton, is supported by really strong telecommunication co-op that has wired the village for broadband. So, the village is covered. The mental health services are… You’re spot on. People, there remains a stigma around mental health services. We provide mental health services to the community. It’s a thing that we continue to focus on during this. During COVID, that was during the initial phases of the pandemic, mental health services was the one that maintained a lot of services because we were able to switch to phone based services. Scenic Bluffs had never had telemedicine capacity until about four weeks ago. And when this started, we had always been talking about doing that other places had done it. We had never stood up that because of cost and a lot of things. But when we quickly saw the need for reducing people’s exposures, safer at home, we switched and we turned on telemedicine services in three weeks. And half of the visits that we’re doing right now are telemedicine based. We are fortunate in the village that there is access to those services.
The delivery of telemedicine services depends on a person in their home having access to a reliable internet. And when you’re in lots of rural communities that still doesn’t exist. So funding for broadband, support for building out that infrastructure is critical to continued growth of telemedicine services. So anything that you can do to continue the support for broadband building out is hugely important.
Just one other thing I wanted to highlight is the ongoing stressful nature of this pandemic requires us to do more mental health services. It requires a comprehensive approach to understanding the trauma that people are facing. Even if you don’t know anyone who’s been stricken with the virus or is ill, this is stressful and it’s overwhelming and it’s exhausting. And we need to do more to support community health centers. We believe strongly in community and we work with our local public schools and we continue to do services there, but I’m very concerned that this pandemic will tax the mental health system. And we really need to continue to focus on building that out with programs and providers, because this is going to be a long struggle for a lot of people.
Joe Biden: (22:42)
Well, I think we need a strong and efficient and fair system in place to test and trace contacts of people who’ve been infected with COVID-19. But so far, I find it very unacceptable that several months into this crisis, we don’t even have that yet, and there’s no responsibility that is absorbed nationally. President says, “Not my responsibility. That’s not my job description.” This isn’t rocket science. It just takes an investment and execution. Both of which have been, I think, gravely lacking. That’s why I call on the President to create what I call, create a pandemic testing board, to make sure the testing is not just being scaled up, but scaled everywhere. So there’s adequate testing in place everywhere it’s needed.
Joe Biden: (23:29)
Now we’ve got to create a new, I think also a new public health service jobs court to ensure that contact tracing reaches at every underserved community in America, and that it’s ideally done by members of those folks in the community. After this pandemic passes, they’re going to help fight other health crises as well, like opioid addiction, an epidemic which you’ve had to face as well and which haunts rural America. And finally, the experience of other nations in past pandemic teaches us one, we have to be prepared for a resurgence of cases.
Joe Biden: (24:08)
And I know Donald Trump says the weather, everything’s going to be fine, and we’re going to have a vaccine tomorrow, and don’t worry about, it’s going to go away and going to be like a miracle, et cetera. Well, I think it’s pretty important we tell the truth to the American people. They can handle anything. What they can’t handle is false expectations that then get just absolutely dumped over the edge. And I think the President should immediately establish a second wave strategy through plenty stockpiles of personal protective equipment and other key supplies that were going to needing in the months ahead.
Joe Biden: (24:41)
And so there’s a lot we can do. And I want to get back to this when I talk again, we talked a little bit about the business side. But part of what I find is the great, great anxiety and the mental health concerns relate not just to whether you are worried that you have COVID-19, whether you are infected, but how do you keep the lights on in your business? You just had to lay off your 12 employees and Main Street. You just had to [inaudible 00:25:09] you’re going bankrupt. You’re going to… I mean, this is causing great anxiety and there’s a lot we can do that related to what has already been passed with small businesses that the President just hasn’t done.
Joe Biden: (25:24)
And look, a combination of failing to move quickly. If we had moved back in January, when not only was our outgoing administration telling them that this is a big problem and set up a pandemic office within the White House and the like, but they had 12, I think it’s 10 or 12 times, there’s a thing called, excuse the acronyms, a PDB, Presidential Daily Briefing that occurs every morning. I’d sit with President Obama every morning, we’d get a briefing from the intelligence community and what was going on internationally, et cetera. The intelligence community warned the President 10 different occasions, according to the press and according to the accounts that had been made available, that there is a pandemic. This is a problem. You’ve got to be prepared. This was in early January.
Joe Biden: (26:19)
And he either as was stated by, I think I’m correct to this, and at least it was stated in the press. He either didn’t read the report or he didn’t listen to it and didn’t do anything. A lot of this could have been prevented. A lot of it could have been prevented. COVID-19 is not his fault. Failure to respond quickly is a big problem. It’s called lack of leadership. And now I am hoping, and I don’t see it yet, he has to speed up the process as well. He has to move on to things that have to be done now, and that’s not happening.
Joe Biden: (26:52)
So I’m hoping that what he does is when people listening to this and many other things out there, that they put pressure on the President to step up. Start to tell the truth, listen to the science, lay out how the federal government has a responsibility to make sure that the resources get to places they’re needed. I noticed your phrase, you use the phrase and I know listeners, I know everybody on this panel knows it, but you said that what you need more is you need… You talked about PPE. [inaudible 00:27:29] the help. And you said you need the reagents. That’s the stuff for testing. You have the machine, and if you don’t have the material that goes into that testing machine to determine when you put the swab in whether or not you have COVID, it doesn’t work very well. And we’re short on that as well.
Joe Biden: (27:45)
So, but I’m talking too long right now as if it’s just you and me. Let us go onto the next couple of speakers and then maybe we can have everybody else chime in on what concerns them as well. But thank you. And I am a gigantic supporter of a significant increase, I’ve called for in the whole idea of community hospitals, community centers, community health centers. It just is a big deal, especially in rural communities.
Thank you Mr. Vice President, and you’re exactly right. And the people are desperately looking for leadership that can unite us, that we’re all in this together. Rather than just seeking the political fault lines in an attempt to divide us. Mary, thank you for your insight today and for joining us. Let’s turn next to Rob Grover. Rob is the Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator in rural Trempealeau County. Rob is a five generation family farm owner in a small community up by Galesville. He’s also a small business owner. He’s at the front lines of helping these small businesses and helping our rural communities fight through this virus and also the economic recovery plan that we desperately need. So, Rob, thanks for joining us today.
Rob Grover: (29:03)
Well, thank you, Ron. And thank you, Mr. Vice President. It’s a real honor to be able to join you here from Trempealeau County today. And some of the folks told me I had to make sure that you saw my Trempealeau County shirt here.
Joe Biden: (29:13)
I see it. That’s nice.
Rob Grover: (29:14)
So, we’re not in Trempealeau County. Yeah, we can’t wait until we can have you in County here.
Joe Biden: (29:18)
I like to be there. I wish I were with you now. You have a hell of a job pal, right now.
Rob Grover: (29:23)
A lot going on, a lot going on. And as you know, in mid-March really almost overnight, we saw a shutdown of huge segments of our economy here in rural Wisconsin. Bars and restaurants and hair salons and small shops and places like that, that are really the backbone of rural Wisconsin. And just to give you a little taste of Trempealeau County, we have no city or village more or larger than 3000 people. We’re a very small, tight knit community. And those sorts of businesses really are essential to our community, not only as social hubs, but as important economic drivers. So when those places close, overnight, basically, we had business people losing their income and we had their workers losing their incomes as well.
Rob Grover: (30:18)
And Trempealeau County and a lot of rural Wisconsin is a very low wage County, if you will. We’re not wealthy people. A lot of people working for minimum wage or a little higher. Maybe 10 to 12 to $15 an hour. And a lot of people’s supplemental income too is working at these bars and restaurants and side jobs. And they sort of depend on those side gigs to be able to get by. So it was incredibly devastating. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, with so many people losing jobs, they also lost access to things like their health care and things like that. So, one of my big jobs has been to try to connect both business owners and individuals that find themselves all of a sudden without either their business income or any income coming in personally, connecting them to both local state and federal program. And that’s really been the majority of my work lately.
Rob Grover: (31:16)
And one important program that some businesses have been able to take advantage of is paycheck protection program. And I just want to take the opportunity to thank you Representative Kind for your work helping to get that program funded. It’s an incredibly important program that some businesses have been able to utilize. But one real problem has been that a lot of small businesses, especially in the first round of funding for that, couldn’t get access. There was a young lady, she owns a salon in a Whitehall here, it’s called the Bluebird Salon. Brandy Berg is her name. And actually that’s not Brandy up, but that’s okay. Brandy applied for the program.
Rob Grover: (32:04)
There she goes. There’s Brandy at the bottom of your screen there.
Rob Grover: (32:07)
But she applied for the program, did all the hard work of organizing it, worked with her local lending institution, and finally got her application in. Well, the bank told her that they were having so many problems actually accessing the SBA portal to be able to put these loans through, so it created an incredible backlog. And that’s a story I heard from so many lending institutions in our area. But what ended up happening is the program ran out of money about a half an hour before Brandy was able to have her bank, her lending institution put in her application.
Rob Grover: (32:45)
And I think where a lot of anger has come with some of the federal response to this, especially in rural Wisconsin, is that it seems really easy for large corporations, million, billion dollar companies, to get this funding really quickly. They’ve got teams of lawyers, they’ve got teams of lobbyists, they’ve got connections to people in power. But when it comes to small businesses that were relying on that money, they couldn’t get access to it when they needed it.
Rob Grover: (33:15)
Now, a silver lining. Brandy, she was able to get funding when the second round of funding came. That’s one thing I point out, I think right now, rural Wisconsin and rural businesses feel like they’re being left behind by this administration. They feel like unless you’ve got connections, unless you are a million dollar donor or something like that, your voice isn’t going to get heard. So I think that’s a big problem. Now here in Wisconsin, as you know, good or bad, the state is starting to reopen. Our stay at home order was overthrown by the state supreme court. And now a lot of businesses find themselves in the situation where they’re uneasy about the future. They want to get open. Every business wants to get people back in and enjoy their business, but they’re really worried about doing it safely. And I think we’ve really lacked leadership from the federal government down to the states saying, “Hey, this is our plan for you to do it safely.”
Rob Grover: (34:21)
And also what businesses are telling me and my own business is dealing with this, how do we properly secure the PPE that we need to both protect our workers and to protect the general public coming in? It’s hard to get, it’s expensive right now. And I really think we could have benefited from a national plan to, first off, make sure hospitals have what they need. And then as we think about the reopening working with our business communities in all areas, including rural areas, to be able to secure that. Even though Wisconsin is starting to open up again, if people don’t feel confident that they can come into your business and be safe, they’re not going to show up.
Rob Grover: (35:02)
And I know a lot of businesses as well are really worried about being open again, but because we don’t really have any plans for how we’re going to deal with this now, especially in Wisconsin, are we going to have to close again in three months because of a resurgence? And then what’s the plan going to be? Businesses can’t survive if they can’t be open, but if we don’t have guidance on how to do it safely, it’s a real mess for everyone. Businesses thrive on consistency. We need that from the federal government. I really don’t think that’s what we’re getting right now.
Rob Grover: (35:34)
So, I’ve talked a lot about challenges that rural businesses are dealing with, but I also just want to touch real quick on the fact that in rural Wisconsin, as was mentioned earlier, people are resilient. They make things work because we always have. We always have less resources, we’re less populated, so we have to make things work. So there’s a lot of businesses that adapted really quick, and even though there’s incredible challenges, are thriving. One of them is this wonderful little cafe in Galesville, it’s called the Garden of Eden. I think we’ve got a picture for you there, coming up at some point. But the Garden of Eden, Bill and Amy own it, husband and wife couple. And basically overnight… And if you’ve ever been to their place, it’s incredible. It’s the sort of place you want to sit inside and be a part of. But overnight, they basically had to transition their whole operation to be to go orders and things like that, and the logistics of making that happen. And they’ve done it and they’ve done it really successfully.
Rob Grover: (36:33)
Another business, Anna’s her name, she owns a place called Cooley Boutique. Also in southern Trempealeau County. I think we’ve got a picture for you. And she was a woman’s clothing store, which of course in Wisconsin, technically wasn’t considered an essential service. So what Anna did… There she is. And that’s her in her shop. She was able to really quickly transition her business to doing more online, using social media. They started to do live fashion shows and auctions and that sort of thing. So she transitioned quickly.
Rob Grover: (37:05)
So I guess I didn’t want to just talk about the doom and gloom. Rural business owners, rural business people, rural people in general, when times are tough, we make things work. But it sure feels like right now from the federal government, rural Wisconsin isn’t getting a fair shake. Rural America is not getting a fair shake.
Rob Grover: (37:24)
So I guess I would leave you with that. There’s always challenges in rural Wisconsin, some have been talked about. Access to broadband internet, which to business people, it’s just as important as rural electrification was for us 80 years ago. We need to have strong internet for us to be able to survive in a 21st century economy. Funding for rural infrastructure. I know you’ve been a real champion when you were a Vice President for infrastructure investments, which are incredibly important to us in rural America. If a bridge goes out or a road goes out here in this area…
You know if a bridge goes out or a road goes out here and this area often not another way to get your products out, to get people to your business [crosstalk 00:38:09] to get to your home. So affordable housing is such a huge issue for us here. A lot of folks would love to actually move to our rural area, but it’s tough to find affordable housing. And I guess I could go on and on about the challenges of rural Wisconsin. But again, I want to thank you for focusing on us today because I maybe said it a few times, but really feels like rural America sometimes gets forgotten about, and we really need a focus economically that’s not just about Wall Street, but once again focuses on Main Street business because that’s what really drives us here in rural Wisconsin. So thank you so much.
Joe Biden: (38:53)
Well, Rob, thank you very much. You guys are lucky you have the Congressman that you do, and I’m not being solicitous when I say that, because what I’m going to talk about for a second here are things that he’s led the way on. And I think we’re going to get there, but it’s been a painful way to get there. Look, small businesses are the foundation of our communities and of this country and the American dream. And they also hire more people than everybody than all those major corporations combined. Now, long before COVID, there used to be a basic bargain that was built in this country and it’s been broken. For too many working families the Trump economy was far from booming. Now because of what I call the corrupt recovery, is focusing on helping the wealthy and the well-connected, not the millions of mom and pops facing financial ruin.
Joe Biden: (39:43)
The warning signs are flashing. 40% of the initial small business funds didn’t go to small businesses at all. Period. And two months after Congress created the Main Street Lending Program for small and midsize businesses, the administration is still hasn’t lent a single dollar, not a single dollar has gone out. Now I’ve done this before, and I think we’ve done it the right way. In our administration when we had the financial collapse that we inherited, the President put me in charge of administering the $800 billion Recovery Act in the last recession to boost small businesses, sparked 75 months of job growth. As President I’m going to make sure that we’ll do this the right way. Reserve half of all the new payroll protection funds for small businesses with less than 50 employees. Now technically, small businesses with 500 or less employees. Well in your community or mine, 500 employees is a big business.
Joe Biden: (40:47)
Okay, it’s huge. But small businesses with their fixed costs like rent and overhead so they can not just keep their workers on the payroll, but also keep the lights on. I’m working on a new ideas to help bring small businesses out from under the shadow of this high interest debt and these debt collection agencies so you get a fresh start. And look, I would keep a close eye on the distribution of relief so it goes to the small businesses who need it rather than the wealthy and the well connected. Look, I’d appoint an inspector… But let’s think about this for a minute. When I was doing that $800 billion program, we got all that money out in 18 months, keeping us from a depression, even conservative economists acknowledged. And less than two tenths of 1% waste or fraud. Because I worked, every single week I sat down with the inspector general, an independent agent who looked over my shoulder to make sure I was doing what the law required us to do.
Joe Biden: (41:51)
And this President has fired every inspector general from the state department to what was called for and Ron and others set up an inspector general proposal in the CARES Act, which they passed. He fired him. Why is that? Who’s looking over anybody’s shoulder here? So on day one, if I’m elected, with Ron’s help I’m going to appoint an inspector general to make sure that the funds are spent fairly and transparently. This is beginning of January, [inaudible 00:42:23] and the way in which we can be in a situation where that happens is we’re able to take a look and see what is going to happen. Because if we don’t look at it, we’re going to find, and we’re already finding. You know where the bulk of the loans went? The biggest loans went to the folks for small businesses who have major hotel chains and making sure chains worth a billion bucks, or maybe it’s not a total billion, but close to it, and they’re getting the loans.
Joe Biden: (42:52)
And so what Ron did, he came along and said, we’re going to have on this PPP program, this paycheck protection, we’re going to make sure that it in fact gets to people who are on Main Street and it’s about employees. I think we have to focus on how do you keep Main Street open. You’re going to ride down and you ride down the small towns of my state and your state and you see they’re closed. Not just closed because of the order of social distancing, they’re closed because they can’t turn the lights on, they can’t pay the rent. They can’t keep it open. They can’t keep their employees. Not one more penny should go to a Fortune 500 company, period. Period. Not a single penny. They don’t need it.
Joe Biden: (43:41)
They don’t need it. We have to keep Main Street open because it’s the heart and soul that makes everything beat in all these small communities in my state and yours. And the other thing you mentioned was that you said that you talked about the salon and the SBA portal being overrun. Look, what’s happening with unemployment in your state, unemployment insurance and access to it. We now have a position where, because of the leadership of Ron and others, that if you lose your job, we beefed up the unemployment position so that in addition to what unemployment you’d get, including in a gig economy, they’re now being covered, you get $600 on top of that, up to the equivalent of $75,000 income. Well guess what? It’s not getting out there. The reason it’s not getting out there is the federal government did not help prepare states that are going to be overwhelmed, overwhelmed as they have been with all these claims. Over 30 some million claims so far, it’s going to go up.
Joe Biden: (44:45)
The other thing is that when you talk about the PPE there is no national plan. The President says, for example, tomorrow he’s going to be in Michigan visiting the Ford plant that was arranged to make sure the respirators were available [inaudible 00:45:05] the Defense Production Act. Well, guess what, I call for him to do that, not just me, but I happen to be the first one to call from and do that a couple months earlier. What took so long? Why is it taking so long? And now we’re in a situation where we need essentially a supply commander, just if you’re ever in the military, like the military. Who knows in war where every tank, plane, rocket, every piece of equipment is so you know where to send it where it’s most needed.
Joe Biden: (45:36)
Well, the President says that’s not my job it’s the local governors. I mean, it’s the governors, the local mayors and the county executives. And this is a national problem. We’re at war. We’re at war with the virus. We need a commander and chief who can garner the resources and distribute the resources, ways that everybody can get them. And what is the other point I wanted to make, because I’m making notes of what you were saying here… The blah, blah, blah. Well, I’ll go back to it when I talk about an IGN… Oh, I know it was. The whole idea of you saying that a lot of your colleagues who are in small businesses don’t know what the circumstances on how they should reopen, what they should do.
Joe Biden: (46:20)
Well, as Ron can tell you, there is a report, and I can’t comment beyond this, that said the Center for Disease Control laid out detailed plans as to how you should reopen, what precautions you should take to not only give confidence that your employees will be safe, but also have confidence that people will come into the restaurant because they know all the major precautions are being taken. Well, guess what? President blocked that from being released. And then after a lot of heat saying what was going to happen, they finally did release a plan, I promise you, is not the detailed plan they first wrote. Not the plan they first wrote. Why is that? Why would the federal government, with the experts of the Center for Disease Control, not be able to lay out in detail, how you can most safely reopened to protect your employees, to protect your customers.
Joe Biden: (47:18)
Why? Because the President wants one thing. He wants to be able to be going into the fall saying the economy’s coming back, look at the stock market, is rising. But what everybody’s predicting, has happened to other places, if you don’t do this well, there’s going to be a second wave.
Joe Biden: (47:35)
But the bottom line is protecting people and telling the truth, laying out truthfully what it is that needs to be done, what the problems are, because guess what? You said, Wall Street is getting too much. Wall Street didn’t build America. I’ve been saying this for 35 years. Ordinary, hard working, middle class, hard working people, working class people, built the country. But you got to give them half a chance. You got to give them at least half a chance to do it. I find myself staring at you in the screen. And they’re probably wondering what, tell I’m looking at here because I’m looking down. But the point is that we got to make sure that these funds are spent fairly and transparently, that everybody knows where every dollar is going. And this program that your Congressmen helped put through, which was this whole notion that we’re going to deal with the Main Street fund, not a penny has gone out yet. There’s a lot of things we can do, but I’ll get into it later if you want to.
Joe Biden: (48:40)
But anyway, thanks for what you’re doing. God bless you for trying. And I think that what the, what, the one thing that I think is being underestimated is the resiliency of the American people. 20% of the population is rural America, but it is the heart of America. It’s the heart of America, not a joke. In my state and every other state, and it needs to be treated more fairly than it’s been.
Speaker 1: (49:05)
Thank you, Mr. Vice President. And Rob, thanks so much for your insight and the leadership that you’ve been showing. And Mr. Vice President, I couldn’t agree with you more. All Americans should share your concern about the current President’s penchant to fire all of our independent inspectors. These are nonpartisan, career investigators in charge of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse within our federal departments, programs and agencies. They’re literally the sunshine democracy needs, which is the best disinfectant to root out waste, fraud and abuse. And so you’ve got to wonder why President Trump so fond of firing these nonpartisan inspector generals right now. I think it’s very dangerous.
Joe Biden: (49:52)
And Ron, you know that used to be a hobby horse for Republican senators. Republican senators joined Democrats, they were strongly, strongly, strongly supportive of these independent inspector generals, starting with Chairman Grassley and others. Where are they? Why aren’t they speaking up about this? It really bothers me and bothers me a lot, but I don’t want to get going on it.
Speaker 1: (50:18)
No, absolutely. Let’s bring into the conversation in Darren Von Ruden. Darren is the current President of Wisconsin Farmers Union. He has a three-generation family farm himself, an organic dairy farm up on the Ridge east of Lacrosse. And there’s probably no one who has better insight on the challenges that our family farmers production, agriculture’s, going through right now here in the state of Wisconsin. Darren, thanks for joining us today.
Darren V: (50:44)
Well, thank you Ron for-
Joe Biden: (50:46)
Darren V: (50:47)
And thank you, Mr. Vice President for the opportunity to tell my story and tell the story of a few farmers across the state too. And I think in your opening remarks you said one thing that really sticks true to what’s happening in the dairy industry, in Wisconsin’s number one industry. 10% of our farmers went out of business last year.
Joe Biden: (51:06)
Darren V: (51:07)
And the year before that we lost 8% of our farmers in the State of Wisconsin. And it all boils down to economics. I think the other comment that you made in your opening remarks too, that really sticks true to farmers beliefs is that we want to get our income from the marketplace. We don’t want to have to continue to take those government handouts, but when you are stressed and we need them, you take them. So how do we get to a system where farmers have more control over their own destiny? Is probably the biggest question. And that’s something that Wisconsin Farmers Union has been working on over the last three years is looking at a growth management program area industry, and how farmers can control their own destiny by making sure that they’re not wasting our most number one natural resource in water.
Darren V: (51:56)
It takes a lot of water to produce really any agricultural product. And so why are we producing and continuing to overproduce, all commodities. Not just milk but corn, soybeans, fruits, and vegetables. We’re seeing because of the Coronavirus now, issues of having to just dump milk, euthanize hogs, chickens, and pigs, simply because we don’t have the slaughtering capacity to deal with it because the workers in the plants are sick. I think it’s a really one thing when a President uses his Presidential authorities for war powers, but when you’re asking combat warriors, which meat plant workers are, to go in unprotected, it’s like sending our military into a war without weapons. It’s just frustrating as a farmer to have to see my fellow farmers destroying animals and destroying crops because of the system that we currently have.
Darren V: (53:02)
I think one of the other things that we really need to look at and focus on is bringing those dollars back into rural communities. It’s been said by the other guests here too, that rural communities really are the backbone of what happens around the States and around the country, really. And once you start losing the backbone of those communities, which is the businesses, the farmers, you lose the whole community. And we’re seeing way too much of that here in the State of Wisconsin. Getting to the trade issues, farmers from around the country spent millions of dollars building up trade partners in other countries, and really overnight with the President’s trade wars that started back in 2017, farmers lost those partners. And like any other business, if you’re a bad partner, you’re a bad salesman. You don’t get to sell again. They find somebody else to deal with.
Darren V: (54:06)
And that’s exactly what’s happening with a lot of the countries right now. They found another partner to buy their goods from. And when you look at agriculture as a number one business in the state of Wisconsin, we’re really struggling right now because we’re not getting that income coming in because our foreign markets have disappeared. Really an agriculture, we really took a double whammy with the trade wars that were started. Number one, we lost our income. A lot of places dropped by 25% to 30%. And then we turned around and tried to buy the materials that we need to keep our businesses running, and those prices raised 20%. So really was the trade war good for agriculture? No, I think it was about a year ago, the President said dairy farmers are over the hump. We’re still losing over two dairy farms a day in the state of Wisconsin. So being over the hump really isn’t here yet. And will we see it? I don’t know. The Coronavirus has had a detrimental impact on the dairy industry. Our pay prices went from the high teens, $17, $18 per hundred weight down to, most farmers in May are receiving $10 to $11. The average cost reduction is in that $17.50 cent range for milk. So looking at that kind of a loss, even the PPP program, a lot of individual farmers like myself, we didn’t qualify because we were our sole employee. And to get dollars, even a few dollars would make a difference on some days. So Congressman Kind has worked on that issue too, to try to make sure that more people are eligible to receive those payments. I wanted to say, thank you, Vice President Biden for your work in the past. I think one other issue, I guess, I’d like to mention too quick is monopolies.
Joe Biden: (56:10)
Darren V: (56:10)
Under your leadership and President Obama’s leadership, there was a task force that was put together back in 2010 that looked at the monopoly issues, antitrust issues. And that’s a big impact in agriculture and really in all industries, when we have fewer and fewer players controlling what’s going on, we’re all at the detriment of that process at the end of the day. So thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Joe Biden: (56:39)
Well, by the way, Joe’s good enough. But let me respond to what you had to say, Darren, if I may. First of all, this country is now being reminded that that food just doesn’t magically appear on our plates. It starts with American farmers and because of your ingenuity and hard work, we’ve long been able to feed the nation…
Joe Biden: (57:03)
For ingenuity and hard work. We’ve long been able to feed the nation and most of the world. And we couldn’t be any more critical today than it’s ever been. You’re really and all your colleagues are incredibly important, and you deserve support from every level of the government. And you need some leadership from the highest level to do what’s best. Now that’s not what Trump is providing. Today in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of millions of people don’t have enough to eat. In the United States, don’t have enough to eat today.
Joe Biden: (57:34)
One in six Americans may be unable to afford their next meal within this year. The same time, farmers are left no option as you point out, but to dump millions of gallons of milk on the ground they’ve worked so hard to produce. Plowing over produce that used to sell in restaurants and schools and in stadiums, and wondering how they’re going to stay afloat through the year. We don’t have a food shortage problem. We have a leadership problem. And from the start, Trump has failed to support food producers. Slow to order the government to buy food from farmers and send that food to food banks. He failed to step up to do that.
Joe Biden: (58:16)
Instead of getting hard hit families the food they need, Trump is in court right now trying to condition food assistance on a work requirement at a time there’s no work. At a time 36 million people are already out of a job. The so-called SNAP program. If I were President today, here’s what I’d be doing: I would have the federal government should be purchasing milk from dairy farmers that lost their big purchasers like restaurants and schools, and have been badly hit by this terrible trade policy that made no sense. The problem with China was China was stealing our intellectual secrets.
Joe Biden: (58:56)
China was stealing intellectual information. China was engaged in cyber warfare. China was insisting that a business to do business in China had to have a 51% ownership in China. There are the things China was doing. It wasn’t about milk. It wasn’t about agriculture. And what’s happening is we’ve got to make sure the food goes now because we’ve lost those partners. And now they can’t even afford it so nonprofits feeding the hungry. Congress should pay agriculture. Pay you guys to buy this stuff from you and deliver it to those folks that in fact desperately need those public programs, that desperately are feeding thousands of people.
Joe Biden: (59:41)
You turn on your television. How do you see those lines of cars two miles long to get a meal? They have someone come up in a mask, open the trunk, and drop food in for the day. Congress gave Trump’s agriculture department to do exactly what I’m talking about in March. To get funds processors, like companies that bottle milk so they can move a food supply to the people that need it. You can get it to them, a point of food systems coordinator, that’s going to know where there is a food shortage and how to get food to people in need. And we’re going to work to enact Feed Act. And I did an event last night with that Chef Jose Andres. His nonprofit paying restaurants to make meals for people who were experiencing hunger.
Joe Biden: (01:00:26)
This is a win-win. It allows restaurants to stay open or reopen. It hires back their workers. It gives people going hungry access to meals, and is good for farmers and ranchers because it means restaurants will be able to buy and prepare those meals. So look, the Feed Act is going to also allow us to scale up the idea nationally. Now, that’s the type of leadership we need from the White House right now and the leadership that I pray, with the help of Ron, I can restore. But you’re right about everything you’ve said in my humble opinion. And think about what we try to do in our administration. Look how hard it is for a young farmer to get a start. That’s why we provided that 15,000 bucks right off the top.
Joe Biden: (01:01:13)
I mean, we set up a system whereby we’re going to have the Justice Department look at the issue of whether or not you’re engaged in this whole notion of monopolies. And what happens to a lot of folks like both of you who have been in your families for two, three, four, five generations, whatever it’s been, well, if you have enough land, you can hold on. You can make it. But there’s a lot of people who can’t. They’re gone. How do they get in the business? How do we keep people in farming? And the idea of us going to just one big agribusiness notion I think is a gigantic mistake.
Joe Biden: (01:01:56)
It lacks flexibility. It keeps people out of the system. And there’s a whole lot. There’s a whole lot we can do. And I think one of the things we should be focusing on now is for every one of those meals that a restaurant prepares essentially, and that Chef Andres is talking about, they get paid $10 on average for each of those meals. Well that keeps their employees on a payroll. It allows businesses to stay open. It hires people. Doesn’t mean people are going to that restaurant in large numbers. It means they’re able to get those meals to people who in fact don’t have a meal, including the school lunch programs, and get into them getting fed.
Joe Biden: (01:02:44)
I don’t know whether you guys have, and I’m sure you do in your county and in your region, food banks. Well, people are hurting big time. And this is a place where could help farmers, we could help restaurants that prepares the food, and we could also help the idea that people aren’t going to have a meal. Talk about being deprived of your dignity. Being a parent who lost a job and can’t figure out how to feed their family. Tomorrow what’s going to happen? And at the same time, what’s he doing? As I said, he’s trying to eliminate the SNAP program. He’s cutting the amount of money the SNAP program gets instead of paying you all more to produce the food and make sure they have more access to buy the food. I don’t know.
Joe Biden: (01:03:36)
I find it as ridiculous as we talked to Mary about talking about trying to get rid of Obamacare in the middle of a health crisis. Going to federal court to wipe out health insurance that’s available. And by the way, one other the thing. Maybe I failed to mention that report you referenced where 26 million people are going to lose their employer-based health insurance. Well, there’s a system in place where if your company can’t afford to continue to maintain that program, you can buy in and pay more money to keep that program you had. Well, people can’t do that anymore. It should be funded a hundred percent by the federal government, that program, so people can keep their healthcare until this crisis pass.
Joe Biden: (01:04:32)
Look, there’s two pieces to this and I don’t know the Congressman will agree with me on this. I think he will. But look, we have to number one, deal with the first part of this whole crisis, which hasn’t been dealt with well at all. And that is we have to sustain people in basic needs that they have, try to keep businesses open, try to keep in a situation where people have their unemployment insurance. They’re able to take care of their healthcare, et cetera. That is to sustain. Then we’re going to have a next phase, which is going to start probably in January, February, March to rebuild a country. To rebuild what’s happened. And it goes back to what you’re talking about, Rob, in your part of the world, rebuilding the infrastructure.
Joe Biden: (01:05:24)
For example, with the help of Tom Vilsack, I put out a rural plan. We should be encouraging you all to put more land in land conservation and to maintain. And get paid to do it because you absorb carbon from the air in carbon sinks. You should get paid to do that. We should be buying from farmers product they have now that they’re happy to just get rid of. We should be making sure that we have all the PPE that is needed to keep open the slaughterhouses and the chicken … We call them hanging chickens here in the Delmarva peninsula. It’s a small version of a slaughter house. Well, guess what? It was always a dangerous job. It was always a dangerous job. But now, now look what’s happening. Look where these outbreaks are taking place. And what’s he doing?
Joe Biden: (01:06:22)
So there’s a lot we can do, I think, to get us to the place where we can begin to rebuild by sustaining. Sustaining employment for people who in fact are in businesses that they cannot hire their employees, keep them on. Because right now on that program that exists that’s not getting out there. That if you keep a worker on your payroll, that is you get the money from the federal government to do that. And it is not a loan. It is flat out deductible. You do not have to pay that back. And now the main street program that the Congressman’s talking about, you’ll also be able to keep those businesses open so they can keep the lights on. So they don’t get foreclosed on their mortgage, or can’t pay their rent payment.
Joe Biden: (01:07:20)
And you talked about housing. I didn’t even talk about housing yet, but it is a giant problem. We’re now in a situation where why in fact do people want to … They get raised in a community like your county, sir, Ron, and they don’t want to leave. But where are the jobs? What happens? And where’s the housing? How do they do it? And there’s a lot we can do. I’m going to send each of you, because I don’t want to keep you much longer, a copy of my housing proposal and how we can get farmers. Small farmers. Keep them healthy and get new farmers into the business of farming.
Joe Biden: (01:07:59)
And I know there’s a lot more to talk about, but I’d rather hear from you than me. What you do for me, one of the reasons I’ve been doing these things with the Congressman and others around the country, is it gives me an insight that I’d ordinarily get if I was in your community. I’d be visiting the hospital to begin with. I’d be visiting your health services facility to begin with. I’d be talking to you and I’d be with you and talking about the farmer’s union and what the problems are. I’d be out talking about small businesses, how we keep them open. And this is the way in the midst of this crisis to be able to keep me informed so that I hear directly from all of you.
Joe Biden: (01:08:48)
But I’ll end by saying that my dad used to have an expression. He’d say, “Joey a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about, it’s about your pride. It’s about decency. It’s about your ability to be able to hold your head up in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay.’ It’s more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity.” And so many people are being deprived of their dignity. How in God’s name a mom or a dad to turn and look at a child that needs healthcare and they no longer have access to it until they do. Or how when a kid comes in, and you have friends this has happened to, “Mom, dad, I love to stay but there’s nothing here. I’m going to move to Madison. I’m going to move to … I’m moving to the city.” That’s not a sensible way for us to do our business.
Joe Biden: (01:09:52)
It doesn’t need to be this way. And if we lose the heart of the community we’re going to find ourselves, and that’s rural the community, we’re going to be in real trouble. Real, real trouble. But it’s time farmers start to get a fair share again. And part of that is if we … I’ll end by saying that we talked about infrastructure. Think of how many schools in your communities, they’re not sure whether or not they can turn and drink the water from the water fountain or whether or not they can breathe the air. Or they’re being told to duck and cover when they go to second grade, how to deal with a mass shooting. I mean, think about what’s going on in education right now. We propose, I propose, a hundred billion dollars for infrastructure for all of our schools across the nation.
Joe Biden: (01:10:46)
Build them back up. Make them accessible, make them clean. Make them safe, make them schools that are as good as any school that’s in a metropolitan area, or in an area where there’s a high tax base. Think about what we could be doing in terms of we have to rebuild our highways to meet the new standard based on the environment. Well, we ought to be able to put in over 500,000 charging stations, along our highways, new and old. We can own, we can own the electric vehicle market, creating millions and millions of good paying jobs. Making sure that people have access. We can now. We’ve learned how the science … We’ve learned how all that manure that’s out there in Delaware, the chicken manure, is a gigantic issue because it’s having real impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, for example, on the tributaries.
Joe Biden: (01:11:47)
We’ve now learned how we can pelletize that. We can take out the hydrogen and we can build these small factories in all our areas that employ somewhere between 10 and 15 people at a good pain salary to pelletize. It uses fertilizer that does not pollute. There’s so many things that we can do to build up rural America. And just talk about whether or not the President is keeping his commitment, dealing with the promise what he’s going to do relative to ethanol. And I mean, there’s, there’s a lot that’s out there that we can do that’s not being done. And I don’t quite get why the President has walked away from any responsibility to do it. Yeah, go ahead. Excuse me.
Mr. Vice President, that to me sounds like a great wrap up statement for a wonderful round table discussion today. I’m sure you join me in thanking Mary and Rob and Darren for your participation today. All that feedback was terrific. And Mr. Vice President, Joe, we thank you for your past leadership. We are in desperate need of your future leadership, as you can help lead us out of this pandemic and the recovery that our nation is in desperate need of. So thank you for the generosity with your time today and for visiting us here in Wisconsin.
Joe Biden: (01:13:09)
Well, look, I’m going to send to each of you a contact point. You can get to me directly. If there’s any follow-up questions you have for me or ideas today or two months from now, let me know. For real, for real. This is the way that Ron and I have to learn these days because we can’t be with you. We can’t be in your community right now, but the bad news for you all is I’m coming. I’m coming. But anyway, thank you all so very, very much. And Ron, thank you, pal. You’re the best. I really mean it. Thank you.
Thank you. Stay healthy everyone.
Joe Biden: (01:13:49)
Please stay safe.