Weekly Column

We surveyed farmers: conservation is important

Many farmers and ranchers value the opportunity the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers to enhance their existing conservation efforts, according to a survey we completed last year. Eighty-seven percent of respondents, all living in an area with a strong agricultural presence, stated CSP should be supported as a priority in the farm bill.

Where have all the bankers gone?

The Center for Rural Affairs first examined consolidation in the banking industry in “Where Have All the Bankers Gone?”, a 1978 report. We have long understood the critical link between credit, who has access, who doesn’t, and how it shapes communities.

That’s why a recent report in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. It detailed how banking in rural communities has fared in the years since the financial crisis. Small business lending in rural areas has dropped by half since 2004, accounting for less than 10 percent of total small business lending.

States take expanded health care coverage to the ballot

Recently, Utahns surpassed the threshold of signature collection to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot. Idaho is following close behind. The residents of these rural states seek to extend access to coverage that has been denied by their state governments. If passed in November, health care coverage will be made available to those who earn less than $17,000 annually for a single family household.

Similar ballot initiatives are underway in Nebraska and Montana, where citizens of each state seek to re-authorize the Medicaid expansion set to expire in 2019.

Your signature makes a difference

Over the next month, Nebraskans have the opportunity to help bring health care access to 90,000 of our hard-working neighbors. By offering your signature to the Insure the Good Life ballot initiative, the state will be closer to closing the gap for those in our communities who work hard every day to provide for their families, but who are left without health care coverage.

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