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Small Loans Now Available from the Farm Service Agency

The US Department of Agriculture is taking steps to address the credit needs of young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will now be offering a streamlined loan program for producers with smaller credit needs than the existing FSA credit programs.

The new microloan fills an important niche for farmers who use smaller equipment on less land and often serve local food markets. The program features a simplified application process and will require less paperwork.

Hot & Dry, Cold & Wet, or Both?

Critically hot and dry weather hit much of the country in 2012, including the Corn Belt. The East Coast endured floods from “superstorm” Sandy and received record snowfall in New England.

2012 marked the first year climate scientists described such events as part of a changing climate attributed to global warming. A warmer atmosphere both increases evaporation and holds more water. For parts of the world already susceptible to drought and heat, or to heavy storms, a warmer atmosphere can make those conditions occur more frequently and more severely.

Better Focus Needed on Drought Mitigation Solutions

Last summer’s drought brought significant challenges to farmers, ranchers, and rural people across the country – challenges that have led to disputes over water.

In Nebraska, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resource District witnessed water shortages and significant irrigation and domestic well conflicts during the 2012 irrigation season. The Center’s hometown of Lyons is in the Lower Elkhorn district.

Can-Do Attitude and Hard Work Revives Business

Fernando Lopez owns El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant and GDL Motors in Columbus, Nebraska. In February, he was named the Center for Rural Affairs’ “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Fernando began working at El Tapatio in 1995 with his wife Teresa. When El Tapatio’s owner died in 1997, the Lopez’s moved to Fremont, Nebraska. El Tapatio changed management a couple of times before Lopez was offered full ownership in late 1999. When the couple arrived to see what they were getting into, they found the restaurant in shambles.

Pioneers Still Relevant for Today’s Rural America

All who work to build a bright future in rural America can draw inspiration from the pioneers, who carved farms, businesses, and communities on the prairies more than a century ago.

The relevance of their story to rural leaders today was stated eloquently by Paul Hosford of Albion, Nebraska. His story is excerpted and slightly edited below to fit this space. The full essay appeared in the Feb 1, 2010, Omaha World Herald.

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