Research and Analysis — Growing in Recognition and Importance

Since its start in 2002, the Center’s Rural Research and Analysis Program has become a nationally recognized source of data, materials, and exploration on issues of importance to rural people and rural places. In the program’s five years, we have highlighted promising practices in rural communities, illuminated strengths and weaknesses in current and proposed policy, and stressed the impacts of current and proposed policy on rural people. Two recent activities demonstrate our growth and reach.

In 2006 we created the Rural Development and Rural Asset-Building Virtual Library on the Center’s website (www.cfra.org). This is intended to be a one-stop collection of all the Center’s publications, reports, and studies on rural development, rural asset and wealth-building, and rural poverty issues. The library holds nearly 40 publications, a one-of-a-kind collection of practical and applied policy research devoted to rural development issues.

In three years, our Rural Brief series – that provides information and analysis of rural development and asset-building funding in the federal budget – has gone from nonexistent to over 5,000 subscribers in every state and the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces. Again, the Rural Brief series is unique in providing usable information to rural people and organizations about a breadth of rural issues across the federal budget.

In 2007, the Rural Research and Analysis Program produced four major publications that received national and regional attention.

Two farm bill-related reports exposed the lack of investment in the type of economic and community development in rural areas that attracts and retains residents and builds wealth and assets. These reports are highlighted in the article on pages 1 and 2. Through them, the Center played a unique role – providing one-of-a-kind analysis during the farm bill debate that both exposed the failings of a harmful public policy while also pointing the way to a brighter, hopeful future.

A third farm bill report addressed the challenges in developing a new generation of farmers and ranchers. Giving A Beginner A Chance in the 2007 Farm Bill served two purposes. It was an analytical primer on beginning farmer and rancher policy recommendations for the farm bill, and it provided information and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers entering high value markets. Using case studies and summaries of research, it highlighted numerous beginning farmer and rancher initiatives from across the nation.

In the same vein, 2007 also saw the release of Promising Opportunities, the third report in our Rural Economic Development Initiative series. Following 2004’s Fresh Promises that highlighted economic and community development strategies that were working in rural communities, Promising Opportunities considers initiatives and proposals that could easily be modified for use at the state and local level. From value-added agriculture to local food to small business development to community infrastructure, Promising Opportunities examines public policy initiatives that would create opportunity for rural residents and a bright future for rural communities.

All publications of the program may be found at http://www.cfra.org/publications/virtual_library.

Contact: Jon Bailey, jonb@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1013, for more information on the Center’s research and analysis program.

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