Weekly Column

Current law undermines success of Nebraska small businesses

The most effective and desirable economic development strategy for many rural communities is small entrepreneurship. This is development based on locally-owned and owner-operated small businesses. In Nebraska’s farm and ranch counties, over 70 percent of the net job growth comes from people creating their own jobs.

For beginning farmers, opportunity may lie in being creative

This is a time of tremendous opportunity in farming and ranching for beginners graduating from college or looking to start a venture of their own. Alternative crops and high value markets offer profit potential and lower risk for new farmers.

If land ownership is the preferred route, funding will have to come from savings, bootstrapping, investors/partners or loans. There are no grants, or free money, for farm startup and operation.

North Dakota communities could feel a draft with proposed bills

Two bills proposed in the North Dakota house and senate would drastically change the benefits that North Dakotans would see from local wind energy development.

North Dakota is 11th in the U.S. for wind energy capacity, with wind energy accounting for over 20 percent of in-state electric generation in October 2016. To put it into perspective, that’s enough to power 597,000 homes, and the state could go on to develop enough wind energy to power 1.6 million average American homes.

Digital divide in rural America

Access to the internet. The internet is now considered a basic human right; it is how people find employment, handle their finances, receive an education, work, and receive medical care.

However, not everyone is able to use the internet to its full potential, due primarily to slow speeds. Rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing broadband.

Expanding infrastructure into rural areas will improve health outcomes for residents by allowing access to specialists, increasing cost efficiency, and raising quality of care.

Fairness in the livestock industry

USDA took an important step last month to bring more fairness to the livestock industry. The impact of three introduced “Farmer Fair Practice Rules” will be significant across the nation, creating much-needed protections for farmers.

Much of the livestock industry is vertically integrated; meat processors enter into contract agreements with farmers to grow livestock. The processor owns the feed and animals, and sells them to the farmer at a set price.

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