When Farm Bill Priorities Are Misplaced, Rural Communities Suffer

Since the House of Representatives passed their 2007 Farm Bill, the Center for Rural Affairs has roundly criticized its flawed provisions – especially regarding payment limits – while praising the good ones. In turn, we have been criticized ourselves for being too “confrontational” and not understanding the need for farm bill “compromise.” Evidently, we’re supposed to put in our two cents early in the farm bill process, and then sit back and be pleased with whatever crumbs our elected representatives feel like tossing our way.

That isn’t going to happen, and I can tell you why – because we live and work in rural America. So do most of our supporters. We see the effects of poorly designed rural policy every day. Our hometown of Lyons, Nebraska suffers because of misplaced priorities and decades of rural policy that has had the effect of decimating rural communities.

essay: Lessons Learned after 30 Years

This year I reached a milestone. I’ve spent 30 years at the Center for Rural Affairs and learned some lessons along the way.

I have learned that I must summon the courage to say difficult truths that have to be exposed, even when it damages relationships and causes me personal pain and agony. The clearest example is the debate over farm payment limitation reform.

Local Youth Lead Hartington, Nebraska

Last month I wrote an article looking at the ways communities can be successful, and I chose Hartington, Nebraska, as an example. Several factors make me think this is a community that is going to make it, and youth-driven leadership is one.

Years ago the Center for Rural Affairs partnered with Hartington in a community development effort called Project Hope. The project identified the community’s youth and how to work with them as an overlooked community capacity. As an outcome, three entities – city fathers, economic development, and the Chamber of Commerce – decided to ask young people to join their Boards.


California: Statewide water storage levels are a significant one-third less than a year ago. The shortage alone is not terribly daunting, but it is combined with new judicial rulings on water usage that could limit pumping in some areas. Much of California agriculture is dependent on irrigation.

North Dakota: State Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson went on the offensive in October by attacking print and radio ads that criticized state meat inspection programs for being less rigorous than federal inspection. Calling the ads “false and misleading,” Johnson asked that they be taken off the air immediately.

MarketPlace Sponsorships Available

Businesses and organizations have a chance to tap into many outstanding marketing opportunities through a sponsorship to the second annual MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success conference. MarketPlace is coming to the New World Inn in Columbus, Nebraska, on February 27, 2008.

Event sponsorship is one of the fastest growing segments in marketing today. Benefits include: enhancing your image, building new relationships and enhancing current ones, exchanging information and ideas with other professionals, promoting company expertise at an exhibit or during an educational session, increasing product and service recognition, and expanding sales opportunities with new prospects and existing clients.


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