It’s an exciting time to be in rural America. (We should know to because our organization has been living and working here for over 40 years). Our work projects and work areas span from community arts projects to small business loans to advocating for policy areas like conservation, farming, energy, and health care. Just as rural America is a diverse place, so is the toolset at the Center for Rural Affairs.
A Few 2014 Highlights:
- In 2014, the outstanding small business loan balance of the Center reached $3.9 million. As a new Community Development Financial Institute we are building our capacity to meet growing capital needs in the small business sector, and exploring the needs in the farm sector and in neighboring states.
- We launched an innovative new rural arts initiative this year. Starting in four small towns close to home, we are working to drive socially engaged art projects forward. The work is a model for what can be done in small towns across the nation.
- After a long fight, a new farm bill was signed into law. The new 5-year law renewed $15 million for small business development, $7 billion for the conservation stewardship program, and $100 million for beginning farmer training thanks to your advocacy efforts. Important work lies ahead to reform farm commodity programs.
- We launched a new land legacy stewardship effort, an innovative program to allow donors who own farmland to secure their legacy, help the next generation of farmers get a foothold, and steward the work of the Center. Meanwhile, 160 beginning farmers participated in our training programs.
- As part of a national initiative, we led the Midwest team focused on putting food from local farms on the trays of school children. In Nebraska, we worked with nearly 50 small rural districts to bring local food programs to rural kids too. If we can do it here, you can do it anywhere.
- Finally, more than 1,000 of you joined with us to speak up for action addressing climate change. As a critical rural voice in the climate debate, your voice helped move national and regional responses to climate down the field.
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