As in other years, Democratic presidential candidates hitting the Iowa State Fair this weekend came armed with policy ideas targeted at rural farmers who dominate the state. The difference this time: Those proposals were about climate change.
In a sign of how far the pressing issue of reducing greenhouse gases has penetrated this primary season, at least nine 2020 candidates have published climate change proposals specifically targeted at farmers, while many of their rivals were discussing similar ideas.
When TIME reached out in February to ask the nascent presidential campaigns about how their candidate would tackle climate change, most offered vague support for a Green New Deal or promised to recommit the US to the Paris Agreement. Now, just six months later, not only do most have substantial climate plans, but they are also dropping targeted proposals for specific audiences.
“At every event, the candidates will talk about climate change,” says Rob Hogg, an Iowa state senator from Cedar Rapids.
In the last two weeks, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey announced new proposals to help farmers fight climate change, joining former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, who had already announced similar proposals.
On the trail in Iowa, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talked at length in multiple speeches about how farmers can capture carbon dioxide in soil. Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delved into the wonky details with voters about the climate challenges facing farmers and promised a new plan including climate-focused crop insurance and a mechanism to pay farmers for capturing carbon.
“Farmers can be very important to defeating the climate crisis,” Inslee told an Aug. 10 gathering in Polk City. “Farmers can get paid for a new service, which is getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and getting it into the top soil.”
The growing interest in climate change here in Iowa comes as the issue has gained new traction nationally with activists pushing climate change into prime time and new interest forcing candidates to support bold climate plans.
But it’s not Green New Deal activists who have prompted the climate campaigning here in Iowa. Voters say they are feeling the effects of climate change and are worried it will get worse. A new poll shared exclusively with TIME shows that nearly 70% of registered voters in the state are wor