Good times, bad times, happy times, sad times ... and now, time to say farewell! Today (May 20) marks my last day in the Center for Rural Affairs office as the Senior Policy Associate.
I had the pleasure of working with the Center for Rural Affairs for the past 15 years. I started as an intern, fresh out of college as a non-traditional student.
My husband, Brian, and I were farming near Osmond, Neb., when we first engaged with the Center’s policy work. We had experienced some incredible financial challenges on the farm. We went through the consolidation of the hog market, and finally threw in the towel when prices dropped to 17 cents.
The Center for Rural Affairs was one of the organizations who stood out on this issue; working with farmers and fighting like hell to get the Clinton administration to do something about the unequal playing field the packers were building and profiteering.
I met Chuck Hassebrook at Wayne State College. He had come to deliver a keynote speech to the Nebraska LEAD program, at the college for some educational sessions ahead of their international trip. One of my professors asked me to think about joining the Nebraska LEAD program as part of an honors project. I did not join LEAD, but I sure signed up with Chuck to engage in federal farm policy advocacy.
I also met John Crabtree at Wayne State College when he gave a presentation to one of my public policy classes. John was leading the Center’s livestock market structure work. Then, as today, he just made so much sense. Around the same time, Jon Bailey was writing a lot about poverty in the Great Plains and Midwest, really shifting the dialogue on persistent poverty.
All of those forces led me to engage with the Center, and eventually work here for 15 years.
I can remember when I received the Center for Rural Affairs newsletter in the mail each month. I would stop whatever I was doing and read it cover to cover. It resonated with me in so many ways.
It was so empowering to get the newsletter and to know we were not alone in the struggle over structure of agriculture issues and the policy that was driving agriculture consolidation. The Center was there standing with us and working in the interest of people like me and so many others.
The Center for Rural Affairs was, and is today, an organization that helps people find their ability to fight for a better way, better policy, and the future of their communities. I have learned ever so much during my tenure, and I would never have been able to do all things I have done had it not been for this organization.
The Center matters to farmers, ranchers, rural, and urban people alike. It has made an incredible impact on my life, one that I will never forget.
I have had the opportunity to meet so many hard-working, dedicated, and fantastic people all across the country through this work. We have worked side-by-side to create a strong and forward-looking rural future.
We have won some great policy together, and we have lost some tough battles too. There is more to be done, and while I will not be here, I will continue to add my voice, along with all of yours, to the debate over family farm and ranch and rural community issues.
I will be moving on to a new position with the Women’s Fund of Omaha, where I hope to continue to make a difference and empower people to shape policy to improve and level the playing field. I wish you all the very best.
Thank you for everything. It has been a great ride!
Feature image: Traci is never happier than when she is out mixing with people. Here she staffs a table for the Center at an event put on by the Kansas Rural Center. On behalf of the entire organization, thank you, Traci, for your years of dedication to the cause.
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