Red Velvet Cake – 4th of July Recipe

Every workplace, church, hometown has a number of people who are known for their excellent food. Our office is blessed with incredibly good cooks who can turn a meal into a feast on any occasion. Our chief accountant, Hayley Hallstrom, from Pender knows that when we have something to celebrate (we celebrate often) that the first thing out of at least one person’s mouth is, “Great, have Hayley make a Red Velvet Cake!”

I am not sure when the first Red Velvet Cake was made, but I am guessing sometime in the ‘40’s or ‘50’s. My mother, one of those women the town looked to for the best of the best when it came to covered dish suppers, loved to make a Red Velvet Cake for the 4th of July. We had homemade vanilla ice cream on it and gained about 5 pounds per slice.

Recently I saw Paula Dean make Red Velvet Cupcakes on her cooking show, and they reminded me again of how delicious Mother’s recipe was. Here is her recipe from our hometown church cookbook. Enjoy! — Barbara Chamness, 402.687.2103 x 1009,

Poetry: Winds of Change

This month’s poem celebrates the windmill as a sustaining source of water and hope for cattle and for the hard working ranchers and their families who make sure they run

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Winds of Life: Windmills Across Nebraska celebration is in full swing. Communities across Nebraska are taking part in this celebration by hosting windmill art contests, windmill themed events, and literary events.

As a child I spent many hours helping my dad repair our windmills. It was a daunting task, but crucial. Cattle can’t go very long without water. Windmills might seem like a remnant to some people, but for us it was the only way to get water to our livestock.

This poem isn’t just about windmills that still remain on the prairie, but it’s symbolic for the hard working people who still remain on the land.

essay: House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Lacks Real Payment Limit Reform

Their payment limit reform can be evaded; closing other loopholes is essential to stop the subsidized destruction of family farming

The farm bill being developed by the House Agriculture Committee is wrong on the two central issues.

It includes no meaningful payment limitation reform. Thus it would subsidize the destruction of family farming for another half decade. Second, it fails to invest in the future of rural America and its communities.


Livestock market reforms considered in House Agriculture Committee; we’ll keep pressure on as the full House debates the farm bill

The Center for Rural Affairs has made the point many times – farmers, ranchers, and rural communities want, need, and deserve livestock market reforms that restore competition and ensure access to equitable markets for all livestock producers.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act of 2007 earlier in the year and seems intent on including it in his “mark” or draft farm bill as a competition title. There is support on the Senate committee, but also stern opposition. But the outcome is uncertain.

There are flickers of hope that the House Agriculture Committee will find the courage to bring livestock market competition issues into the farm bill debate.

feature: House Agriculture Committee’s 2007 Farm Bill Draft Takes Shape

After months of posturing, political rhetoric, and backroom Washington negotiations, the 2007 farm bill is finally being drafted. In the past several weeks, we have slowly seen the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the farm bill take shape. Five of the six subcommittees have “marked up” their titles of the farm bill, sending them on for full Agriculture Committee consideration, which is scheduled to begin June 26 (as of this mid-June writing, only the Commodity Subcommittee had not completed their work).

Much of the work the Center for Rural Affairs has done over the past months and even years is reflected in these initial drafts of the farm bill titles. There are significant successes to celebrate, along with some disappointments that need to be fixed as we move through the rest of the farm bill process. Most importantly, none of this could have happened without your help, and the entire Center for Rural Affairs staff thanks you.


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