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Senate farm bill is promising, but has concerns

The Senate Agriculture Committee has released a bipartisan bill that provides important support for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. However, there is room for improvement.

While it would strengthen the underlying policy for conservation programs, it proposes to cut funding for working lands conservation. The bill would also offer greater permanency for many programs for beginning farmers and rural development by combining certain programs.

Government examines farm program payment abuse in recently released report

Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes billions of dollars in total payments to farmers across the country. They rely on these payments as part of a strong safety net, which helps them mitigate the steep risk that comes with working in the agricultural sector. Congress historically put in place some common sense limits on farm program payments, but left open notable loopholes that damage their integrity and effectiveness.

Staff spotlight: Carlos helps bring communities together

After migrating from Mexico to the United States in 1994, Carlos Barcenas discovered that, though the landscape may change, rural living still encompasses the same ideals.

“Rural brings a sense of agriculture, families, connection, and opportunity no matter where you’re at,” said Barcenas. “Rural America is important to me, because, throughout U.S. history, it has played a significant role in all areas of the country, and is the backbone of what the country stands for today.”

States take expanded health care coverage to the ballot

Recently, Utahns surpassed the threshold of signature collection to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot. Idaho is following close behind. The residents of these rural states seek to extend access to coverage that has been denied by their state governments. If passed in November, health care coverage will be made available to those who earn less than $17,000 annually for a single family household.

Similar ballot initiatives are underway in Nebraska and Montana, where citizens of each state seek to re-authorize the Medicaid expansion set to expire in 2019.

Your signature makes a difference

Over the next month, Nebraskans have the opportunity to help bring health care access to 90,000 of our hard-working neighbors. By offering your signature to the Insure the Good Life ballot initiative, the state will be closer to closing the gap for those in our communities who work hard every day to provide for their families, but who are left without health care coverage.

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