News

Development Matters

Last month, in conjunction with our annual newsletter renewal, we kicked off an effort to raise $15,000 by May 15th to help provide the tools the Center for Rural Affairs needs to win the crucial battles in which we are currently engaged – fighting for farm program payment limits, meaningful community development, rural economic development that works, conservation, livestock market competition...

Outdated Water Policy a Source of Conflict

Our central challenge in updating water policy is to create a sustainable water supply

A few years ago famed oilman T. Boone Pickens went public with a plan to sell water pumped from rural aquifers to urban centers at very high prices. A general sense of outrage followed. Our precious water was going to be used for personal profit, with little regard to the environment, local water needs, or the importance of water for sustaining life.

Now, years later, the same issues still confront us. Unfortunately, public policy has not responded to the challenges we face. In many places, water policy is more suited to the Wild West of long ago rather than to the present day and the central challenge of creating a sustainable water supply for the future. Rural communities in particular have an enormous stake in this debate, as many face the export of their water for the benefit of urban areas.

Give Consumers What they Want

U.S. court says ban on testing for mad cow disease is off, a good ruling for consumers and a good reminder for rural entrepreneurs

The federal court ruling that has overturned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ban on testing for mad cow disease is welcome relief from a bad idea. The ban was based not only on bad law, but bad economics.

In a bizarre twist of the law, USDA argued its authority to protect human health empowered it to prevent Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from testing cattle for mad cow. Creekstone was testing to gain access to foreign markets that closed after mad cow was found in the U.S.

It appears the ban was aimed less at protecting public health than at protecting big meatpackers. Big packers did not want to compete with an upstart firm that was more responsive to their consumers.

Rural Indiana’s Approach to Community Development

Seven pillars and a novel attitude comprise Indiana’s rural development philosophy, the Rural Indiana Strategy for Excellence

In community development, many approaches make sense. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The best rural community development sparks creative and innovative ways to bring rural people together for a common goal. Indiana is no exception.

The state has created what is known as the Rural Indiana Strategy for Excellence, or RISE. This is a 15-year plan that was created in July 2005. It is now being implemented as RISE 2020. The Indiana Rural Development Council, using the pillar approach, has created an inclusive and sensible framework that will lay a foundation for development.

Congress Must Act to Define Fair Livestock Market Competition

In many rural places where livestock are raised there are only a few, or even just one, packer or processor for a given livestock species. Currently, over 80 percent of hogs are either owned outright by packers or tightly controlled through various contracting devices. Many farmers and ranchers face price discrimination and severely limited market access as a result.

The audit of the Packers and Stockyards Administration performed by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General and released in February 2006 revealed that the agency has utterly failed to enforce the very law that gives it a reason to exist.

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