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Recent posts by Sandra Renner

Strong regional food systems keep wealth within communities, help students see future

Food and economic security in rural communities is directly related to community development. In many rural areas, food purchased at grocery stores is imported, and dollars spent for this food ultimately end up out of state.

For example, in our home state of Nebraska, our staff found residents spend nearly $5 billion annually on food. Approximately 90 percent of that money leaves the state, as reported in a 2015 Center for Rural Affairs white paper.

Fire enhances native plant community in prairie lands

I wanted to learn more about the practice of prescribed burn (sometimes referred to as controlled burn) as it relates to our work with women farmer and landowner learning circles.

So, I caught up with Karen Rathje, a learning circle participant from our series.

Karen owns land in Nance County, and read about the conservation learning circle for women farmers and landowners in the paper. She cash rents her ground – the original plot has been owned by her family for 104 years.

Value-Added Producer Grant funds available

At Robinette Farms, funds from the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program help pay for processing, marketing, distribution, and sales of pasture-raised chickens, eggs, and microgreens.

This year, $18 million in funding is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) VAPG program. Paper applications are due Jan. 31, 2018, and electronic applications through www.grants.gov are due Jan. 24.

Local food served on school lunch trays nationwide

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to recognize the importance of improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and educating communities about the origins of their food.

In 2016, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 220 organizations nationwide to promote farm to school throughout October. This year marks the seventh year for National Farm to School Month, designated by Congress to bring awareness to the growing importance of these programs in child nutrition, local economies, and education.

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