MASON CITY — 4th District congressional candidate JD Scholten made a stop in Mason City on Saturday, hosting a rural technology forum.
Scholten says rural technology is more than just trying to get Iowans better connected to rural broadband. “When we talk about just broadband, I feel that it could be obsolete in a few years, and so the big thing is having that goal and vision for the future and just allowing us to have the infrastructure for success. Whether that means a farmer having the ability to have advanced agriculture on their farm, or somebody living in town to do their homework, or as healthcare is becoming more and more remote, to have the ability of Skyping or whatever the method is with with doctor.”
Scholten says the infrastructure has to be there to make sure farmers are able to be financially successful. “Right now we’ve had a half decade of low commodity prices, its hard for young farmers to get involved in farming. The trade wars are really hurting folks, but then you also have the Renewable Fuel Standard being abused and we’re leaving too much grain in the bins. But it all goes back to just having the capability of allowing farmers to to do the best they can.”
Scholten says education can be boosted by better technology. “What we see in education, it’s just interwoven with all the programs that people are trying to do nationally. It doesn’t matter if you live in Eldora, or if you live in Hinton Iowa, or Sioux City Iowa, or if you live in Chicago, we should have the capability to the research the same stuff and to do a lot of the same programs, and I think that’s one area where the schools have it, but when you go home from school you should be able to learn and continue to learn.”
Scholten says Iowa is losing graduates who are experts in technology. “ Iowa State University graduated in 2017 1400 students who could immediately go into the technology field. A year later in 2018, only 258 were working in the state of Iowa. That’s 18%. That’s where the big issue is right now. The majority of the folks who stayed, that 18% who stayed and worked, are probably in Des Moines, or maybe Ames or in Cedar Rapids, but they’re not in the Mason Citys or the Fort Dodges or the Sioux Citys like they should be, and that’s where we really need to change the game, and that’s my goal.”
Scholten says better rural technology can help boost telemedicine efforts to those areas not being served by doctors or hospitals. “We need more of a system of just regular check-ups where a doctor can can go to the meet the people, and go to where the people are at. I think that a rural healthcare system that is much needed in this country and in this district. The other part of it too is, if there is a simple solution to things, I think telemedicine is going to be part of our future, and we’ve got to make sure that the infrastructure is there, and the capability of having that interaction is there. It all goes back to have in that infrastructure laid out.”
Scholten, a Democrat, is running for the 4th District seat currently held by Steve King. He was joined in Mason City on Saturday by Pennsylvania congressman Ro Khanna