News

Embracing diversity to help communities thrive

The faces of rural Nebraska have changed during the past 20 years as immigrants from many countries seek to live, work and raise families in the Midwest’s small towns and wide-open spaces.

Immigrants are opening businesses, shopping, working and making an economic impact in rural Nebraska. Communities that may have slowly disappeared from the map are now thriving because of diversity. And in some communities, the minority has become the majority.

Workforce housing is critical to vibrant rural communities

Affordable workforce housing is an important need in Nebraska. LB 518, the proposed Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act, lays out challenges of limited and aging housing in rural communities; cost and contractor barriers to construction in rural communities; and the negative impact of low housing availability on the ability of employers to bring in and keep the workers they need.

The Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act provides one possible step towards a rural housing solution, although its definition of rural areas is inconsistent with more commonly used measures.

Ending Iowa's water-quality woes by bridging urban-rural divide?

There's been a lot of focus on ensuring safe, affordable drinking water from public systems in Iowa’s urban centers. But some groups believe just as much attention is needed in rural communities. 

Stephanie Enloe, program associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, said most of the more-than 500 water systems in Iowa susceptible to contamination are in rural areas, and nutrients and sediment in surface water are among the culprits. She argues that approaching the problem at the watershed level could help build better collaboration between rural and urban communities

Ask your insurance agent about signing up for Whole Farm Revenue Protection

Many farmers rely on crop insurance to help manage the risks of farming. Crop insurance is known for covering major commodity crops, however, there’s a new crop insurance policy that expands what commodities farmers can insure.

The policy is called Whole Farm Revenue Protection. While not yet well-known, Whole Farm is a great new tool for risk management. It insures the revenue of an entire operation and will cover crops and livestock that were uninsurable before. This can be valuable to farmers and ranchers who plant organic wheat or raise livestock.

Proposal to cut income taxes misguided

In the face of a budget shortfall, some political leaders in Lincoln are clamoring to cut income taxes for the wealthiest Nebraskans.

The move would compound our real challenge. It’s property taxes that Nebraskans are asking lawmakers to look at.

The Center for Rural Affairs has long held that state revenue should be balanced among property, sales and income tax. Today, property tax accounts for 36 percent of revenue; sales tax, 30 percent; and income tax, just 26 percent.

Income tax is already the shortest of the three revenue legs.

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