Reports & Publications

We aren't afraid of the weeds. The people living in rural America deserve a serious and in-depth look at the issues and forces impacting their communities.

Throughout the Midwest region of the U.S., farmers, schools, and small businesses have been on the frontline of solar energy adoption. Collectively, states in the Midwest employ approximately 36,605 workers in the solar industry with 3,118.67 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity. These jobs...
  • Environment
As Iowans, water is central to each of our most basic activities, and, in our state, there is a lot of it. Across Iowa, there are 416 square miles of surface water, which 3,155,070 residents rely on for recreation, drinking water, agriculture, or other purposes. At the same time, Iowa ranks second...
  • Environment
Across the U.S., the solar industry is booming. Solar project sites often occupy several acres of land and are projected to cover 3 million acres by 2030. To produce 1 megawatt of electricity (enough to power between 100 to 150 homes in South Dakota), utility-scale solar plants may require between 5...
  • Environment
Across the world, we continue to endure the coronavirus pandemic. Our work at the Center for Rural Affairs has evolved to support rural America through this time. One of the core values continuously on our minds is “CONSCIENCE that balances self-interest with an obligation to the common good and future generations.”
  • Farm and Food
  • Small Towns
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has helped Nebraska farmers and ranchers achieve conservation goals on their operations for nearly two decades. Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP provides financial and technical assistance for producers to maintain...
  • Farm and Food
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has helped Iowa farmers achieve conservation goals on their operations for nearly two decades. Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP provides financial and technical assistance for producers to maintain agricultural...
  • Farm and Food
The Center for Rural Affairs recently undertook a project to research different designs of bee hives, their practicality in Nebraska, their weights, and honey production. The goal of the project is to strengthen the specialty crop industry in the state, and honey is a specialty crop. Using the...
  • Farm and Food
Policy Associate Cody Smith hosts this virtual Rural Resiliency Forum featuring Iowa State Sen. Zach Wahls. Discussion covers clean energy, water quality, and climate adaptation. If you’d like to connect with Sen. Wahls, here is his contact information: Email: zach.wahls@legis.iowa.gov State Capitol...
  • Environment
  • Small Towns
With more than 600,000 miles of operational transmission lines throughout the U.S., there is a significant opportunity for investments in conservation. By establishing native vegetation in these project corridors, developers and private landowners can add value to the rights of way used by electric...
  • Environment
Los propietarios de microempresas, los propietarios únicos y los agricultores deben asegurarse de estar preparados en caso de que un miembro de su equipo dé positivo para COVID-19. La respuesta rápida a un brote minimiza la propagación y el impacto en los negocios. Tener un plan en marcha podría significar la diferencia entre continuar las operaciones modificadas o cerrar.
  • Small Business
Owners of microbusinesses, sole proprietors, and farmers need to make sure they are prepared in the event a member of their business tests positive for COVID-19. Rapid response to an outbreak minimizes spread and the impact on business. Having a plan in place could mean the difference between continuing modified operations or shutting down.
  • Small Business
Due to COVID-19, local foods have become a buzzword. More farmers are utilizing direct to consumer marketing strategies to reach customers through online sales, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and farmers markets. Is there room for schools in these markets? Farm to School can be concentrated...
  • Small Towns
More than 1 in 10 school-age children lack any kind of internet at home. In what has come to be known as the “homework gap,” students without internet at home have more difficulty completing school work than their connected peers. Rural areas, which already lag behind in connectivity, face even...
  • Small Towns
The first value of the Center for Rural Affairs is “RESPONSIBILITY placed upon each of us to contribute to our community and society.” So, when COVID-19 hit the communities we live and work in, our staff each felt responsible to continue the work we do to support rural America.
  • Small Towns
While access to electricity is essential for homes and businesses across the U.S., the cost of service can pose a burden to customers. One key strategy to limit this burden is to implement efficiency measures that can cut costs by reducing energy consumption. On average, a U.S. household spends $1...
  • Environment
When planning for a solar project site with native vegetation (including naturalized, non-invasive species), there are several variables site managers should consider. While the clearance between the lowest edge of a solar panel and the ground is a primary consideration when crafting a mix of native...
  • Environment
Join us each Tuesday at noon for our Facebook Live series, Rural Rapport. Each week, a Center staff member will share a resources and information on a range of topics. Can't watch it live? No problem. Watch anytime at facebook.com/ruralaffairs. Here are the topics our staff have presented so far...
  • Environment
  • Farm and Food
  • Rural Health
  • Small Business
  • Small Towns
Cover crops are important for building soil health and protecting Iowa’s watersheds. The average cost is $37 per acre to implement cover crops. To assist farmers and landowners interested in implementing cover crops, there are many state and federal programs available that not only provide technical...
  • Farm and Food
Family farms are the backbone of rural communities in the Midwest. Farms rely on sound risk management options and practices, and federal crop insurance is a central tool for many farms to manage risk. However, crop insurance is not available to all farms and ranches. While there is a wide diversity...
  • Farm and Food
The wind energy industry remains one of the fastest growing in the United States. In 2018, U.S. wind capacity increased by 8 percent, bringing total installed capacity to 96,433 megawatts (MW). An additional 35,135 MW of capacity were under development at the end of 2018—including projects that had...
  • Environment