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Recent posts by Brian Depew

From the desk of the executive director: Is industrial hemp an opportunity?

The most recent farm bill establishes a roadmap for the cultivation of industrial hemp. Congress was right to loosen the restriction on growing this crop, a non-psychoactive relative of marijuana.

Each state now has the opportunity to establish a regulatory framework under which industrial hemp may be cultivated. If a state does not act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will develop a uniform framework that will be applied in the state. The Center for Rural Affairs supports a bill working its way through the Nebraska Legislature to establish the framework in our home state.

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.

We know that capital alone cannot ensure success. Education, training, and mentoring are essential to establishing any new business. That is why our business specialists work with business owners on planning, projections, and helping navigate the details that come along with running a small business.

From the desk of the executive director: looking forward to the new year

As we look forward to 2019, I am amazed what you—our staff, our board, and our supporters—have achieved. 

The past year marked the Center’s 45th anniversary. I am proud that the Center remains vibrant and relevant. That was true in 1973 at our founding, and it is true today. 

Challenges—and we saw a few the last year—can test our patience and resolve. We persevere because we are guided by our pragmatic commitment to change and our clear and consistent values. 

Consider a few highlights from the last year.

From the executive director: immigration in focus for rural America

An immigration raid in very rural north central Nebraska put a spotlight on the immigration debate in rural America.

The raid targeted alleged labor practice exploitation by a local employment agency. It also swept up more than 100 community members and employees of local businesses in its net.

The businesses included a tomato greenhouse, potato processing facility, and cattle operation among others. The communities affected ranged in population from 100 residents to 3,600 residents.

To me, the raid highlighted how deeply immigration is reshaping rural America.

From the desk of the executive director: strategic plan guides our work

At their most recent meeting, the Board of Directors of the Center for Rural Affairs adopted a new five-year strategic plan.

Before adopting the new plan, the board reviewed Center accomplishments and changes over the last 15 years. The new strategic plan builds on past wins, leverages the growing reach of the Center, and provides guidance for the next five years. 

Key elements of the plan are: 

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