Organizations Call for Investment in Rural Development

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Dan Owens,, (402) 687-2103 ext 1017
Lyons, NE – Rural Minnesota communities could gain new jobs and economic opportunities from programs in the Rural Development title of the 2007 Farm Bill – but only if a strong commitment is made to provide the necessary resources. Today, organizations and individuals from across Minnesota released a letter asking members of Minnesota’s Congress delegation who serve on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to invest urgently needed funding in rural development programs in the 2007 Farm Bill.
“Programs that encourage rural entrepreneurs and rural small businesses, strengthen rural infrastructure, and provide the vital services necessary to ensure the future of rural communities must be adequately funded in the upcoming 2007 farm bill,” said Colleen Landkamer, Blue Earth County Commissioner and President of the National Association of Counties.

Each year since 1994, federal dollars funded at least twice and up to five times as much per capita in urban development as rural development.  The federal government provided only one-third as much for rural areas since 1994, an annual $16.5 billion funding disadvantage.

More than 15 prominent organizations and individuals from Minnesota signed the letter, which specifically asks that a strong effort be made to find farm bill funding for the Rural Entrepreneurs and Microenterprise Assistance Program, which is included in the current House draft of the 2007 Farm Bill and has been introduced in the Senate as well.  The program would provide training, technical assistance and loans to rural small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Minnesota’s elected representatives will play an influential role in crafting the next farm bill.  Representative Collin Peterson is the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and Representative Tim Walz also serves on the Agriculture Committee.  Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman serve on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

“Minnesota's elected representatives are uniquely positioned to ensure that rural Minnesota and rural America receive the resources in the Rural Development title of the farm bill that they sorely need to succeed in the 21st century,” continued Landkamer.

The Center for Rural Affairs has long advocated for rural development programs that will help create genuine opportunity and prosperity throughout rural America.  The 2007 Farm Bill presents a unique opportunity to fund such programs, and the Center for Rural Affairs has worked over the past months with Minnesota individuals and organizations to ensure their voices are heard in this important debate.

To see the letter and a list of signatories go to:

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