Center Launches "Renew Rural America" Webpages

Release Date: 

03/31/2010

Contact(s): 

Steph Larsen, stephl@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1014 or John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010
Lyons, NE - Today the Center for Rural Affairs announced the delivery of a new online resource devoted to providing resources, news, and information that rural residents can access and utilize in their efforts to revitalize their rural communities. The Renew Rural America site (www.cfra.org/renewrural) focuses on three key strategies: encouraging entrepreneurship, stimulating innovative community development, and generating new opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
"Rural Americans are their own best advocates... their own best, and fiercest, champions.  With these online resources we hope to help rural communities and their leaders with their revitalization efforts, yes, but even more than that we hope to inspire and empower rural Americans to make their hopes and dreams for their communities come to life," said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to Crabtree, the section on community development includes a page devoted to rural grocery stores, with news and information on how to open or sustain a store in a rural community. There is also information on rural broadband internet, rural schools, libraries, and an entire section on getting started in farming and ranching that offers information on high-value markets, financing strategies and farm bill programs for beginners.

"Rural people know that the solutions to the challenges their communities face will come from our country roads and rural mainstreets, not Washington and Wall Street.  We encourage everyone to access the resources on Renew Rural America and we invite them to share a story about their community and their rural revitalization leadership to inform and inspire others," added Crabtree.
 
In 2009 Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree (no known relation to John Crabtree) started an organic dryland grain farm near Havre, Montana literally from scratch.  "The beginning farmer and farm bill resources available through the Center of Rural Affairs were then, and still are, invaluable to us," said Jones-Crabtree, who contacted the Center for Rural Affairs when they began their farming venture.  

"Without the Center's support it would have been a much bigger challenge to successfully navigate several inconsistencies in beginning farmer eligibility for NRCS's EQIP program.  We have far too few beginning farmers and ranchers and they face unique challenges in getting started.  Having the Center for Rural Affairs so actively stewarding the future of beginning farmers is great and it is essential support for rural America," added Jones-Crabtree.

Jones-Crabtree also contacted the Center for Rural Affairs Farm Bill Helpline (402-687-2100) (http://www.cfra.org/sustainable-options-hotline) for additional information about and assistance with applying for USDA conservation programs and, ultimately, she and her husband participated in a beginning farmer fly-in to Washington DC to advocate for beginning farmers and ranchers with Congress and USDA (http://www.cfra.org/newsrelease/2010/03/10/crabtrees-go-washington).

Renew Rural America is also intended to provide research and resources for small business, agricultural and community leaders.  

"We are confident rural people of all stripes will find this online resource beneficial and we hope they'll avail themselves of the information and opportunities there. Revitalizing our rural communities is vital to the economic future of rural America, and to the well-being of the entire nation," concluded Crabtree.