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What Would It Look Like if Rural America Really Mattered?

We find out more every day about how rural America does, and does not, matter in the farm bill debate. But the bonds that are forming among those that seek a better future for rural America are just as important as the outcome.

On November 14, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced their support for the Senate farm bill’s ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock. UFCW support brings with it the voices of 1.3 million members nationwide, including more than 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing.

Youth from all over the Globe Make a Difference in a Small Town

Last month I showed the amazing difference in community development that youth vitality and innovation can bring. This month we’ll look at a new approach in community and school development and see what happens when a small community embraces youth as the future.

Nebraska has what is known as the “rule of 60” for small rural schools. If the number of students in grades 9-12 falls below 60, then local and area landowners can option out of the school district and join another district, possibly with lower taxes. Nothing holds them accountable to the local school district.

ACROSS THE NATION

California: In this farm bill year, a certain California city has become a hotbed of grassroots activism directed at farm bill reform. From their notable advocates for reform, to their home-town newspaper’s reform-minded coverage, San Francisco is doing their part to stand up for the future of family farming and rural communities. These California residents understand that when family farms and rural communities prosper, all of America prospers.

Exhibiting Opportunities at MarketPlace

Businesses and organizations have an opportunity to apply for an exhibitor booth at the 2008 MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success conference. A maximum of 50 booths will be accepted.

This is the second year for the conference. It will be held in Columbus, Nebraska at the New World Inn, Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Exhibiting at MarketPlace is an excellent decision to reach a professional audience. Last year there was a waiting list for exhibitors.

Government Payments and Concentration of Cropland Studied

The debate surrounding farm programs and the 2007 farm bill is too often reduced to sound bites and sloppy rhetoric that does little to educate the general public on the importance and effects of farm and rural legislation. But once in a while, something comes along that reminds us the farm bill and its effects must be objectively researched and reported on. Rather than shouting slogans and talking past one another, such research can help illuminate the often hidden common ground in farm and rural policy.

The November 2007 issue of Amber Waves (a USDA magazine) contains an important article that explores the relationship between government payments and the concentration of cropland ownership in various regions. They have some interesting conclusions, which all sides of the farm program debate would do well to heed.

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