Center for Rural Affairs September and October 2020 newsletter

Small Towns
Farm and Food
Center September and October 2020 newsletter

Editor’s Note

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.”

This spring, when faced with the question of pivoting areas of our work, we asked ourselves: will this benefit rural America? How does this affect future generations? What are the downfalls?

We jumped in to help small businesses affected, because, one by one these entrepreneurs build up our rural communities. We are gathering all the information we can to assist farmers and ranchers who are reeling from having to understand government programs on top of making changes to their operations. These two examples are just a selection of the many activities we have added in these past few months to keep rural America strong.

Throughout the Center’s history, when considering new areas of work, or even adding employee health insurance benefits, we think about this value. Paul Olson, our Seventh Generation Award winner, talks about this and more in the front page feature.

Other areas of work continue, with conscience and the Center’s other core values, underlying our duty to support rural America.

Inside this issue

A lifetime of what Paul Olson loves—Paul Olson suffered a massive heart attack at age 31. “I thought, heck, I’ve got a lifetime ahead of me,” said Paul, now 87 and living in Lincoln, Nebraska. “This is all gravy. This is all a gift. I can do what I believe in. And, I did.”

Midwest farmers top list of food assistance program recipients—When the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S., farmers and ranchers faced financial challenges because of market prices. However, farmers are resilient, and Ron Spicka is no exception.

From the desk of the executive director: a call to community responsibility—Community responsibility is an often cited virtue in small towns. It is a value rooted in a commitment to neighbor and community. We witnessed it in barn raisings of past generations and in volunteer fire departments of today.

Legislation would extend loan forgiveness to rural businesses previously left behind—Months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, Congress is considering legislation that would include rural businesses and communities initially left out of the stimulus package.

After pandemic hits close to home, cafe owner contemplates changes—Coffee talk that once revolved around the weather and crops has evolved to include the latest COVID-19 numbers and milling over who got it and how they are doing. When one of the two regular employees at the Left Bank Cafe tested positive, those morning conversations came to a halt.

The buzz about our research—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.

From start to finish, the Center sees Medicaid expansion through—This October marks the culmination of two and a half years of hard work by advocates, partners, and the Center for Rural Affairs to expand Medicaid in Nebraska. In summer 2018, we started by asking Nebraskans to sign the ballot initiative. Now, implementation has finally arrived.

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