Center for Rural Affairs May and June 2023 Newsletter

Small Towns
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Editor's Note

The Seventh Generation Award, our lifetime service award, is presented to someone who has made major contributions in improving rural life and protecting our land and water.

Jim and Lisa French, of Partridge, Kansas, are our 2022 recipients. In February, I had the privilege of visiting them and presenting the award in their community, in front of their friends and family.

They have been involved with the Center since the ‘70s. Their work throughout their careers and on their farm is something to look up to. Since the beginning, they have focused on soil health and making sure both the land and water are improved for future generations.

They have truly embodied the work of the Center from agriculture to community. They have served many of our partner organizations and worked for the betterment of rural life.

You can read more about them in the front page story, and even more is added to the blog at

In this issue

  • Planning for seven generations ahead, Jim and Lisa French dedicate lives to soil health: Jim and Lisa French have dedicated their lives to community, healthy water, soil health, and conservation. That’s why they are the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2022 Seventh Generation Award recipients.
  • Celebrating 50 years in rural America: lending boosts communities: The Center for Rural Affairs’ mission to establish strong rural communities continues with the Lending Services program, which today includes small business and housing loans as well as small business training and one-on-one assistance.
  • Farm bill creates opportunity for advocacy, program improvements: Approximately every five years, the federal government passes a package of legislation that impacts all rural Americans: the farm bill. The current farm bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, indicating the time is now to advocate for programs that impact rural livelihoods and communities.
  • Center Board of Directors tours meat processing facility: The fourth generation of a cattle family has grown their business into a meat processing business with the addition of a store and restaurant.
  • Conservation, production, farmers market, and farm to school featured at NSAS Conference: The Center for Rural Affairs’ farm and community-focused work was highlighted at this year’s Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS) Conference in Aurora, Nebraska. Center staff led five sessions during the two-day conference in February, including sessions on Nebraska Farmers Market Toolkit, two on Beekeeping for Farmers, Farm to School in Nebraska, and presentations from our first-year Conservation Fellows.
  • A new era of renewable production in South Dakota: Renewable energy has been powering South Dakota for more than a century. Hydroelectric generation was introduced to the state in 1912 and has been vital in its energy landscape since, powering three of South Dakota’s four largest power plants.
  • From the desk of the executive director: pragmatic approach guides Center’s work: The Center envisions a vibrant future with strong rural communities and robust local economies. We work hard to ensure that everyone who calls rural America home will have the opportunity to fully participate in that future regardless of the size of their bank account, how many acres they own, or what language they speak. It's a bold vision of widespread economic opportunity and stewardship of natural resources.