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Development Matters: You Did It!

You did it. We tried something new last month, and it worked, because so many of you took up the challenge of raising $15,000 by May 15th to support the fight for the future of rural America.

Greensburg, Kansas Rebuilds

Massive spring tornado destroys this rural town, but not its spirit — we list a variety of ways to help residents rebuild

On the morning of May 4, Greensburg, Kansas, was like the small towns in which many of us live and work – a vibrant business community with locally owned small businesses serving the town and neighboring farms and ranches, strong schools and churches serving as the heart and soul of the community, and unique and interesting examples of rural culture and tourism. By late that evening all had changed in Greensburg as a massive tornado destroyed most of the town and many nearby rural homes.

essay: Influencing the Farm Bill Debate

The opportunity to shape a debate that focuses on investing in the future and reforming excessive payments is at hand—be part of it

Congress has begun writing a new farm bill, and each of us who cares about rural America has a responsibility to help shape the outcome. The stakes are high.

The farm bill can foster new vitality for rural communities, small businesses, and family farms. There are three key principles. The farm bill must invest in our future. It must reform excessive payments that subsidize concentration and drive smaller producers off the land. And citizens of conscience must enter the fray.

Beginning Farmer/Rancher Bills

Act calls for financial and entrepreneurial training, apprentice programs, and new financing options for beginners

On May 16, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, a comprehensive set of policy options designed to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of today’s beginning farmers and ranchers, was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Sponsors include Senators Harkin (D-IA), Grassley (R-IA), Brown (D-OH), and Baucus (D-MT) and Representatives Hereseth Sandlin (D-SD), McCollum (D-MN), and Walz (D-MN).

The need for the 2007 farm bill to include such an initiative could not be clearer. Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber those under 35 by more than two to one. A majority of farmland and farm business assets is owned by those over 65 as well. In 1978, 350,000 farmers aged 34 or younger claimed farming as their primary occupation. By the 2002 Census of Agriculture, just over 70,000 people aged 34 or younger made the same claim.

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