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Nebraska Hearings on Initiative 300

States can still place tough restrictions on corporate farming as long as they don’t discriminate against farmers from other states.

That was the Center’s message to Nebraska legislators at a recent hearing on corporate farming. Federal courts have struck down corporate farm laws in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Now the North Dakota law is under attack.

CORPORATE FARMING NOTES

As reported in Alan Guebert’s Farm and Food File, the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended earlier this year that the EPA recover nearly $25.2 million of the $25.4 million granted to America’s Clean Water Foundation in three federal grants between 1998 and 2003. The grants were awarded “to perform environmental risk assessments at agricultural facilities,” according to documents on the EPA Office of Inspector General’s website.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Health Insurance

The Access Project, a Boston-based research affiliate of the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University recently released a report detailing the health insurance status of non-corporate farm and ranch operators in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Findings from these seven states include:

Nearly all farm and ranch households have health insurance and are insured at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Over 90 percent of respondents said all members of their household were continuously insured in the past year. That compares to 72 percent of adults nationally.

Survival in a Rural Community-Hartington

Last month I looked at four factors that make rural communities able to thrive despite circumstances against them. They are availability of good paying jobs, access to critical services, strong leadership, and a healthy natural environment. The model that I want to start with in this discussion of communities fighting to keep these four areas intact is Hartington, Nebraska.

First, Hartington has established itself as a regional hub for industry, professional, agricultural, and retail services. In terms of retail sales, the measure most often used is called the “pull factor.” This refers to the community’s ability to retain those dollars that are earned within the community.

ACROSS THE NATION

Rural news bits from Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, the Midwest, Illinois, North Carolina, and Kentucky

Wisconsin: They are calling it the brain-drain boomerang. New research shows that although Wisconsin still suffers an overall loss of college-educated residents, the drain is mostly among graduates in their 20s. The state has net gains among college grads in their 30s and 40s. As graduates began to start families, quality of life and strong community begins to outweigh factors that originally drew young adults away from the state. Rural communities stand to benefit from this boomerang effect.

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