By John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Solutions to rural America’s challenges will come from rural communities; not from Washington and Wall Street.
Then why does the Center for Rural Affairs speak out about federal investment in rural America?
Because there will be another farm bill, commodity program, rural development title and continued debate about the future of rural America. Therefore, it is crucial that the next farm bill support what works in rural communities.
Rural Americans know that some things work and some do not. Rural folks tell me about local efforts that are making a real difference and creating economic opportunity.
Unlimited farm program payments artificially inflate land costs and effectively bar beginning farmers and ranchers from getting started. Economic development programs squander resources on industrial recruitment; subsidizing large, established corporations that have no need for assistance. Recruited industries often undermine local efforts by using their size and market power to drive out rural mainstreet businesses.
The Center has called for an historic commitment to rural entrepreneurship, agricultural innovation and asset-based development in the next farm bill. This is not a “feel-good” commitment to locally owned businesses, farms and ranches. In the rural Midwest and Great Plains, nearly 70 percent of job growth in the 1990s came from people starting small businesses. In other words, microenterprise development is the heaviest hitter in the rural development lineup.
The intellect, work ethic, perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit of rural Americans are our greatest assets and the reason we know rural challenges will be met, and overcome, from within.
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