Center for Rural Affairs March and April 2019 newsletter

Small Towns
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Editor's note

Since its inception, the Center for Rural Affairs has chosen to advance a set of values that reflect the best of rural America. This month’s newsletter focuses on “Widespread OWNERSHIP and CONTROL of small businesses, farms, and ranches by those who work them.”

In this edition, you will read about Ruth Chantry who has co-run a certified organic farm for 22 growing seasons, demonstrating hard work on land she owns. 

Our staff took a deep dive into Nebraska’s food system, concluding $4.4 billion is spent annually on food, with only 10 percent expended on products grown and processed in the state, proving closer control is needed to strengthen our local economy.

We also demonstrate the need for control over our own climate and how to get there with carbon-free energy and bioenergy.

We hear more about widespread ownership in a piece about effective policy reform to close loopholes in a new program providing short-term relief to producers. It needs to benefit America’s true beginning and small family farmers instead of a few large farming operations.

In our executive director’s essay, he emphasizes the importance of small businesses. We believe the ability to own and build your own business should be widely available—including to those who do not inherit a business or have access to traditional capital sources.

Lastly, you will meet Nick Bergin, our new development director, who is looking forward to meeting all of you as he spreads the news of our organization’s values.

For more, visit or follow us on social media.

Inside this issue

Ruth focuses on soil health, grows food - For more than two decades, Ruth Chantry has been gaining farming experience, and she’s not planning to stop any time soon.

Abuse of agricultural trade aid costs taxpayers - For many years, the Center for Rural Affairs has advocated for support of common-sense and effective policy reform to close loopholes in the farm safety net and curtail further abuse of taxpayer dollars. 

From the desk of the executive director: entrepreneurship lifts families and sustains communities - The Center for Rural Affairs is a small business lender, but we are different than a bank. In the last year, we made loans to support 126 small businesses in rural Nebraska, investing a total of $2.4 million. For us, that is just the start of our work.

Congress invests in rural business - Across rural America, small businesses are the heart of main street. From local coffee shops to the hardware store, these businesses employ local residents, provide important services to the community, and serve as anchors for their local economies. With the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 passed on Feb. 15, Congress has made an investment in rural small entrepreneurs nationwide.

Report, recommendations are steps in making Nebraska more food secure - More than $4.4 billion is spent annually on food in Nebraska, with only 10 percent expended on products grown and processed in the state, according to a report recently released by the Center for Rural Affairs and the Nebraska Food Council.

A dire opportunity: rural communities in the face of climate change - Climate change can be difficult to fully wrap your mind around. My fear is that more people will engage only after facing a crisis themselves—losing a home due to flooding, markets upended by multi-year droughts, water shortages, etc. We know that warming trends can accelerate or decelerate quickly depending on emissions and policies.

New development director will use superpowers in rural America - Nick Bergin is a big believer in superheroes. As a child, he lost himself in the fantasies written of those possessing powers beyond this world. Today, he searches for new kinds of superpowers—those found within the hardworking people who live in rural America.

Thank you, 2018 donors! - We believe rural communities, family farms and local businesses are national treasures that provide the foundation upon which our nation was built. Thank you for your generous support in our mission to ensure a strong and vibrant future for this American treasure.

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