Weekly Column

Rural communities in the face of climate change

Climate change can be difficult to fully wrap your mind around. My fear is that more people will engage only after facing a crisis themselves—losing a home due to flooding, markets upended by multi-year droughts, or water shortages.

We know warming trends can accelerate or decelerate quickly depending on emissions and policies. We do not know when we will cross a threshold from which we cannot return. Carbon emissions increased in 2018 to nearly twice the rate seen in 2017 after three years of little to no increases.

5 steps to help small town grocery stores

Grocery stores are a staple on rural main streets across the country. They provide fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, staple food items, and even cleaning supplies, toiletries, and over-the-counter medicine.

We’ve heard from a few communities who are seeking solutions on keeping their grocery stores vibrant. So, here are some steps to start the conversation.

1. Get folks together in a community meeting. Make sure everyone has a say and feels included. If people have invested time, money, and energy into a project, they will want it to succeed.

What is a market-based approach to water quality?

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a joint letter encouraging market-based, collaborative approaches to reduce excess nutrients in waterways. But, few other details were offered on how to best take this approach.

There are three possible market-based strategies for water quality improvement: nutrient reduction exchange, wetland mitigation banking, and environmental impact bonds.

Now is the time for the Legislature to step up on broadband

An overreliance on faulty data may be leaving thousands of rural Nebraska households out of the digital age. Twice per year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collects broadband access data through Form 477 from internet service providers. This data has a host of problems and can severely overestimate broadband access.

Many Nebraskans are being left behind because of this inaccurate information. Meanwhile, state and local governments are using this information as a primary source to distribute their limited resources—something it was never intended to be used as.

Abuse of agricultural trade aid costs U.S. taxpayers

In 2018, President Trump pledged $12 billion to provide direct aid to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat producers. Through the Market Facilitation Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has administered this aid to provide short-term relief to producers who are feeling the effects of ongoing trade disputes with foreign governments.

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