Center for Rural Affairs September and October 2019 newsletter

Editor's note

My favorite part of this job isn’t the cake we get for birthdays, although that is a pretty neat perk.

I absolutely love visiting with you—our donors, event and program participants, small business loan recipients, board members, and everyday, rural people.

One of those chats, with David and Connie Hansen, is featured in this edition. I met the couple at the annual staff and board party in 2006, when I was an intern. Connie sat next to me and asked questions about what I was doing with the Center for Rural Affairs and about my future aspirations (at that time, I was in college with a goal to become a small town newspaper editor and publisher).

I later learned that she and David have quite the history with the Center. You can read the story for yourself, but I’ll give away that David was in on initial talks to start our organization. 

David and Connie have truly dedicated their lives to the Center and live every day by our set of values. I am glad to have spent three hours chatting with them for this story. Our goal is to continue to preserve the Center’s history through people’s stories like this one.

Thank you, David and Connie. And thanks to all of you who have been a part of our organization in any way. On Sept. 5, we celebrate 46 years!

Inside this issue

David and Connie Hansen are dedicated to rural life - On a July morning, the sky shone blue with puffy white clouds. Sand hills rushed past the windows, and a dust cloud collected behind our car as we made our way through central Nebraska. We found the driveway on a curve, several miles from the nearest town, with a sign proclaiming “Hansen Common Stock Farm.”

Land and legacy: transitioning to tomorrow’s owners - The Center for Rural Affairs strives to help landowners utilize their property to its best potential—how to care for the land so it is fruitful for generations to come. Landowners today are faced with the issue of how to handle land transitions or changes in ownership when the time comes, a key conversation Center staff urge landowners to have with their families and loved ones.

From the desk of the executive director: The little program that could - Let me tell you a story. It’s a story of a little program called RMAP. Sounds wonky, right? It’s the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, which is part of the larger farm bill. The story started a long time ago.

Iowa farmer shows conservation and economics go hand in hand - Mark Tjelmeland can trace his interest in conservation back to his childhood. When he was a young boy, Mark’s mother peaked his curiosity in natural resources by taking him to a field that was being tiled. She showed him the topsoil, subsoil, and explained why topsoil depth differed between locations on their farm.

Conference focuses on food and arts-based businesses - Registration is open for the Food + Art Conference: Growing Rural Businesses and Communities, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs.

Coal plants could be replaced by renewable energy - With U.S. wind and solar capacity expected to grow by 6 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in 2019, a new report says it would be cheaper for many electric cooperatives to retire their existing coal plants in favor of renewable energy generation. The report, authored by the Center for Rural Affairs, CURE, and We Own It, was released in June.

Staff spotlight: Anna’s sights set on small business training - Born and raised on a cattle ranch near a small town in southeastern Idaho, Anna Pratt learned to drive on country back roads, charged purchases to a tab at local farm supply stores, and took part in the challenges and rewards of a family-owned business.

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