Ask Not What Your Country Can Do

There are questions about our national economic malaise, - will the bailouts and stimulus work, can we afford to spend federal money, can we afford not to? But little attention has been paid to what can be done for rural America, and, more importantly, few have asked what rural America can do for the rest of the nation.
The best rural development results from rural people creating their own jobs, small businesses, and entrepreneurial value-added agriculture.  Grassroots entrepreneurship puts profits into local wallets and maintains control of the community's future by its members.

Too often rural entrepreneurs depend on savings and credit cards to fund their business starts.  Federal policy can help. The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program funds loans, and training for owner-operated businesses with 10 or fewer employees (businesses that make up the backbone of rural Main Streets).

The Value Added Producer Grant Program helps farmers and ranchers fund feasibility studies, market research and business planning necessary to launch value-added agricultural enterprises.  The Farmers Market Promotion Program and Community Food Projects Grant Program create opportunities for small farmers in local markets.

These programs are at the back of the line for federal investment.  Ensuring that legislation to jump start the economy with new federal spending invests in each of the grassroots entrepreneurship programs would cost pennies on the stimulus dollar (or less) and would not only make a difference on rural Main Streets, it would help rural America contribute significantly to the economic revival of the American economy.  

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