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feature-New Report Compares Farm Payments to Rural Development Funds

The central issue in the 2007 Farm Bill debate is: Should the federal government provide bigger subsidies to the nation’s biggest farms to drive their neighbors out of business? Or, should the Farm Bill focus on supporting family-size farms and investing in the future of rural communities?

To inform those questions, we recently released An Analysis of USDA Farm Program Payments and Rural Development Funding In Low Population Growth Rural Counties, a new report that compares farm subsidy payments received by the largest farm businesses with the rural development grants received by counties experiencing the most severe demographic and economic distress.

ACROSS THE STATES

North Carolina: The State House voted 108-0 to ban the construction of new waste lagoons for hog farms. Despite being the second-largest producer of pork, North Carolina has had a moratorium on new lagoons for 10 years. The recent vote makes it permanent. All existing lagoons are grandfathered in. (Read more in this month’s Corporate Farming Notes.)

Maine: The largely-rural state recently enacted new legislation that authorizes tax credits to refund college loan payments for any Mainer who obtains a degree in the state, and then lives in and pays taxes in the state after graduation. Termed Opportunity Maine, the legislation offers an answer to the student debt crisis while also giving young people a reason to stay in the state.

Arts and Culture Help Establish Community Roots

Arts-based development embraces more than economic benefits; the arts define us and our culture and anchor us to one another

For the past two months, I have quoted the benefits of arts-based community development for rural communities. I used statistics describing the economic benefits of art and other cultural entertainment to help communities grow and prosper. You can find these statistics at www.artsusa.org.

Arts for America published the economic study to help promote communities and the benefits they can obtain by engaging people in the arts. I have received email from all over the country telling me how communities and regions are using arts and cultural awareness to everyone’s economic benefit.

Quick Stop Economies Present Challenges to the Nation's Rural Schools

Communities with limited employment opportunities also experience problems with the cost of local education and school funding

One problem many rural schools have is that they are seeing enrollments of challenged students increase as overall enrollment falls. This is happening in communities with limited employment prospects. The rules assume that children are the same everywhere, but fail to take into account that some children and their families are stuck in minimum wage, Quick Stop economies.

Quick Stop economies develop when people stop in your community only to buy fuel or food. Countless numbers pass through, but few choose to stay and build a life. It’s an economy of minimum wage jobs and little chance for advancement. Many of the children who are born and raised in Quick Stop areas learn to look elsewhere for opportunity.

Regards to Rural Event

Rural Development Initiatives, Inc. (RDI) is presenting the fifth annual Regards to Rural Conference. The 2007 conference opens on Thursday evening, October 25 and concludes Saturday afternoon, October 27, 2007 at Skamania Lodge along the Scenic Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

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