Weekly Column

Lesser-known broadband policy leaves rural areas out 

Connectivity is the defining aspect of our 21st century economy. Access to broadband internet offers the best in education, health care, and economic development. Unfortunately for many, the best isn’t available.

More than 24 million Americans lack broadband access. This includes 31 percent of households in rural areas, but only 2 percent in urban. 19 million of 25 million households without broadband are in rural areas.

Old fashioned data collection guarantees this will continue.

Placing local food on school lunch trays

Engaged communities and connections with farmers are helping make school lunches even better in rural communities. Across the country, kids are reaping the benefits and heading back to school with local foods on their plates.

Initiatives are being implemented throughout the U.S. In one state, “Nebraska Thursdays” urges participating schools to serve a locally-sourced meal in their cafeterias on the first Thursday of each month. Sourcing local products encourages fresh and healthy meals in the school cafeteria; educates students about agriculture; and boosts the area’s economy.

Initiative places local food on school lunch trays

Engaged communities and connections with farmers are helping make school lunches even better in rural communities. Our kids are reaping the benefits and heading back to school with local foods on their plates through a new initiative from the Center for Rural Affairs and Nebraska Department of Education-Nutrition Services.

Farm bill: Congress' failure to act puts producers at risk

The current farm bill will expire on Sept. 30. Congress has a handful of days to make an important decision, and they have three options: to pass a final farm bill, extend the 2014 farm bill, or let the farm bill expire.

At this point, swift passage of a final farm bill before the Sept. 30 deadline seems unlikely. Yet, Congress has been unable to reach consensus. In the absence of a new farm bill, it is imperative that lawmakers extend current legislation.

Small businesses band together to support farm bill program

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), a sliver of the farm bill, is at risk. Alongside small businesses across the country, we’re asking Congress to support and restore funding of RMAP in the final farm bill.

This program offers access to loan capital through grants to organizations that provide training, technical assistance, or small loans to rural businesses nationwide. Since its creation in 2008, this funding has helped more than 2,100 small businesses in nearly every state create jobs and generate economic returns for their local communities.

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