Weekly Column

Conservation Stewardship Program deadline fast approaching

An important deadline is coming up quickly for certain contract holders with the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Farmers and ranchers who started their first CSP contract in 2014 are eligible this year to apply to renew for a second CSP contract. Interested farmers and ranchers have until Dec. 31 to sign contract modifications with their local Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) office.

Access points can connect communities with food

How do we increase healthy, fresh foods in rural America? One way is to identify new opportunities for people to access food. Here are five suggestions for your community.

1. Mobile grocery stores or veggie vans are refrigerated vans or trucks that bring affordable produce into communities at a certain time and day. The stores can be an effective way to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to communities that may not otherwise have access to such produce.

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.

Congress: Pass a new farm bill before 2018 ends

Congress has only a few days left in 2018 to pass legislation. Adopting a strong, new farm bill should be at the top of their list.

Lawmakers should approve a farm bill that includes closing loopholes in commodity payments, renewing major conservation programs, and continuing programs that offer support to rural communities and beginning farmers.

Shop local this season 

This holiday season, will you be among 83 percent of consumers who plan to do some portion of their holiday shopping at a small, independently owned retailer or restaurant?

These types of businesses are what keep our small communities thriving. Up and down rural main streets, shopkeepers are readying their stores for the season. They welcome shoppers from their communities and those who are just visiting. Business owners are even stocking rolls of wrapping paper to provide added value when you spend your money with a local retailer.

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