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Childhood experiences spark lifelong passion for rural living

Rural places are close to my heart because I have seen the value of them firsthand. I am from Monticello, Iowa, which is a town of about 4,000 people, three stop lights, and one grocery store. Growing up, driving 35 minutes to see a movie used to frustrate me. But, as I’ve gotten older, I have truly been able to see the value of my town and what the way of life contributes to people.

Advocates share success stories at Leopold Center event

Recently, small business owners alongside alumni of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, at Iowa State University, met at the Iowa capitol to advocate on the Leopold Center’s behalf.

Last year, the Iowa Legislature defunded and nearly eliminated the Leopold Center by repealing a tax on fertilizer, which provided its funding. By doing so, lawmakers cut a driving force in addressing water quality and revitalizing rural communities.

Working lands and crop insurance could offer conservation opportunities in the farm bill

Many issues surrounding conservation are decided at the time of farm bill renewal.

Working lands conservation programs in the farm bill offer an important opportunity for farmers and ranchers to increase stewardship on their land without impacting their bottom lines. For example, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program support farmers in implementing new conservation practices, and the Conservation Reserve Program offers valuable options for enrolling marginally productive lands.

Business Planning 101

The most effective development strategy for rural communities is small entrepreneurship – locally-owned and operated small businesses.

The first step in creating a small business is having a great idea. Next is writing a good business plan to help you make superior business decisions. Business plans are also crucial to obtain financing.

Think of a business plan as a resume for your business that should be written down and formalized. In general, it contains:

Farmers and ranchers lose by repeal of Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices standards

The Center for Rural Affairs stands for rural communities, and we, too, believe that an essential foundation for vital rural communities consists of a healthy economy and diverse farming models. Many of the policies we support – organic agriculture, Value-Added Producer Grants, rural microloans – we chose to fight for because they make space for farmers and ranchers to access new or alternative income streams.

We are concerned that some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent actions directly undermine this vision, by the removal of several rules.

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