Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blog for Rural America - We Moved

Last month we moved the Blog for Rural America over to the main Center for Rural Affairs website. You can find it at

It took us a little while to get cranking, but we're now posting on the new blog on a regular basis. If you are not reading the new site, you are missing out on a number of interesting posts.

If you read our blog by RSS feed, the new feed url is

I hope to hear from you all in the comments on the new site.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The New Blog for Rural America

I just wanted to leave one last post to let you all know that the Blog for Rural America has moved to the Center for Rural Affairs website - I have truly enjoyed the interaction that I have had with the readers here. I hope you will continue to show the same enthusiasm at the new location - Again, thank you all very much for being a part of this. With a few more than 400 blog posts under the bridge, it has been a good long conversation that has touched on many, many things. Come to the new Blog for Rural America as soon as possible - - thank you, John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Washington Post - Rural Aid Goes to Urban Areas

Rural Aid Goes to Urban Areas

USDA Rural Development Program Helps Suburbs, Resort Cities

By Gilbert M. Gaul and Sarah Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 6, 2007; A01

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. -- In a few weeks, artists, lawyers and bankers will begin arriving here for the busy summer season on high-speed ferries that take 90 minutes to make the trip from Boston. They will land at a recently refurbished municipal dock that was built with the help of a $1.95 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A few blocks away, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum has used nearly $3 million in grants and loans from the Agriculture Department to add gallery space and renovate a historic sea captain's house. A short drive back down the Cape, the department is financing a new actors theater in Wellfleet and recently awarded a grant to a garden center in Hyannis to build a windmill.

Although Cape Cod is only a short trip from Boston and Providence, R.I., and is home to some of the wealthiest beach towns in the United States, to the Agriculture Department it meets the definition of rural America. That means it qualifies for aid originally intended for farmland and backwoods areas that were isolated and poor, struggling to keep their heads above water.

"Provincetown is many things to many people, and to USDA we're rural," said Keith A. Bergman, the town manager. "We'll take it."

He isn't alone.

On Martha's Vineyard, the USDA guaranteed a $4.5 million loan for the popular Black Dog Tavern. The loan, which has since been repaid, was to refinance the tavern's mortgage and expand Black Dog's retail clothing stores. On Nantucket, where the population swells to the size of a small city in summer months, the Agriculture Department provides rental subsidies for families priced out of the local market.

All told, the USDA has handed out more than $70 billion in grants, loans and loan guarantees since 2001 as part of its sprawling but little-known Rural Development program. More than half of that money has gone to metropolitan regions or communities within easy commuting distance of a midsize city, including beach resorts and suburban developments, a Washington Post investigation found... read the full Washington Post article online at -

... editor's note... remember, we will be finishing the transition of the Blog for Rural America to the Center for Rural Affairs redesigned website next week. Look for the Blog for Rural America at from now on. Thank you, john

Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Medicaid Generic Drug Refund Cut Could Hurt Rural Pharmacies

Cut in Medicaid generic drug refund could hurt small, rural pharmacies

...editor's note, this post is credited to our friends at the Rural Blog at the University of Kentucky, see the link under the title of this blog post

Independent pharmacies could be hurt by a federal proposal to cut the reimbursements they receive for providing generic prescription drugs to people on Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ new rule would pay pharmacists an average of 36 percent less than what it would cost them to provide the drug, according to a Government Accountability Office study.

The new rule would go into effect July 1 and would apply to all pharmacies, but small pharmacies would be hurt most because they don’t have the same sales volume as chain stores and serve more Medicaid patients. Small pharmacies might be forced to stop serving Medicaid patients. About 75 percent of the independent pharmacies in the United States are located in rural areas.

The proposal could leave many rural Medicaid patients with fewer places to get prescriptions filled, says a staff-and-wire report in the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y.

Pharmacies now make only 1 to 5 percent profit on drugs under Medicaid, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. Steve Feinstein, co-owner of the Prescription Center of Ossining, said that as an independent pharmacist he feels “there's a concerted effort by our government to really put us out of business… We're seeing reimbursement rates, for example, from (Health Insurance Plan of New York), of 87 cents for a co-pay.” Most pharmacists don't determine the drug prices, which are set by third parties such as pharmacy-benefits managers, said Bob Giaquinto, owner of Rye Beach Pharmacy.

“CMS disputes the GAO's findings that pharmacists would be underpaid,” the story says. “In its response to the report, CMS said its results are unreliable because they are based on confidential data the GAO received from IMS Health, a private company that tracks drug prices, and cannot be verified. Congress mandated the change in reimbursement rates in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act because under the current formula pharmacists are overpaid, the agency said. The change is supposed to save taxpayers $8 billion over the next five years.” (Read more)

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Alert - Iowa Legislation Requires Hog Purchases From Independent Producers

Bill Requiring Hog Purchases From Independent Producers Passes Iowa Senate
Radio Iowa - Wednesday, March 21, 2007
By Stella Shaffer, Radio Iowa

...editor's note, I am posting this because this crucial legislation is stuck in the Iowa House Agriculture Committe. In order for farmers, independent producers and contract growers alike, to be treated fairly in the livestock marketplace, there must be an open (spot or cash) market with real competition where multiple buyers bid for hogs and, thereby, establish a competitive price. Livestock market competition is important to farmers, yes, but also to the rural communities in which they live. Competitive markets would also help forestall the environmental, economic and social catastrophe that awaits us as a result of consolidation and industrialization of hog production. Please contact your state Representative's and urge them to support SF 504, the 25% spot market bill (see below for additional contact information).

Meatpackers will have to purchase more of their hogs from independent family farmers under legislation approved by the Iowa Senate on Tuesday afternoon. Big meatpackers now buy many of their hogs on contract from farmers, and lock in the price without a sale at auction. The bill requires them to purchase at least 25-percent of their hogs from independent farmers.

Senator Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, urged the Senate to pass the bill. "I would ask the senate to think again about casting a vote for the small independent pork producers of this state, the ones that keep our fairs alive, our 4-H and our future farmers."

Kibbie said the market for independent hog producers has almost disappeared. He describes signs at packers' unloading docks that say "contract hogs only." Kibbie says we must provide a market for the independent producer. Supporters argued consumers would get a better price on meat if fewer hogs were produced on contract for the big packing companies.

Critics said you can't turn back the clock on Iowa agriculture. The drive to curtail packer ownership of livestock on the farm stems in part from the discovery that so few animals are sold at public auction these days that the open-market price is hard to determine. This bill puts into effect an agreement Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller worked out with meatpackers Smithfield, Cargill, and Hormel -- and extends the agreement to Tyson Foods as well.

...editor's note, the House switchboard number is 515-281-3221 and members of the agriculture committee are listed below, along with members of the subcommittee where the 25% spot market bill is being held up.

Dolores Mertz (D, District 8), Chair and subcommittee chair
John Whitaker (D, District 90), Vice Chair and subcommittee member
Jack Drake (R, District 57), Ranking Member
Mark Davitt (D, District 74)
Betty De Boef (R, District 76)
Cecil Dolecheck (R, District 96)
Marcella Frevert (D, District 7)
Elesha Gayman (D, District 84)
Sandy Greiner (R, District 89), subcommittee member
Dan Huseman (R, District 53)
Mark Kuhn (D, District 14)
Helen Miller (D, District 49)
Steven Olson (R, District 83)
Dawn Pettengill (D, District 39)
Henry Rayhons (R, District 11)
Mike Reasoner (D, District 95)
Nathan Reichert (D, District 80), subcommittee member
Doug Struyk (R, District 99) , subcommittee member
Kurt Swaim (D, District 94)
Andrew Wenthe (D, District 18)
Gary Worthan (R, District 52)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Guest Opinion - Preserving History, Preserving Community

Preserving History, Preserving Community

By Elisha Greeley Smith,

... editor's note, remember, on April 9th we will finalize moving the Blog for Rural America to the Center for Rural Affairs website -

The Center for Rural Affairs often emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurship in rural communities. For one rural community, entrepreneurship has kept the small town alive.

St. James, Nebraska was once a thriving farm community, but like many rural towns, found itself quickly dwindling. The town was struggling, and after the church was closed and the remaining building burned to the ground in 2000, the old school house and a few other establishments were about the only signs that a town existed.

Fearing that the loss of the church would destroy the community, five entrepreneurs -- Mary Rose Pinkelman, Vicky Koch, Jeanette Pinkelman, Violet Pinkelman and Louise Guy -- came together and purchased the old school house. With entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and determination the ladies renovated the school house and created St. James Marketplace. The marketplace now houses a farmer’s market, craft room, tea room, and a historical room.

The Marketplace provides a place for local vendors to sell their products and draws hundreds of visitors each year. Guests get a taste of local goods and learn about the history of early pioneers.

Not only did the ladies preserve the school house, but they preserved the rich history of that area, and they preserved their community.

Recently Readers Digest recognized the success of St. James and chose to do a piece featuring the marketplace.

The Marketplace will open its doors for the season on May 5. For more information on St. James and a schedule of events visit: .

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court Rejects I-300 Appeal

Supreme Court Rejects Initiative 300 Appeal

...editor's note - in one week we will complete the process of moving the Blog for Rural America onto the Center for Rural Affairs website. Until that time we will continue to host the Blog for Rural America here and there at the same time...

LYONS, NE – Today the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Nebraska Attorney General’s petition for a writ of certiorari - a request for an appeal of the Omaha federal district court ruling that I-300 is unconstitutional. This means the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal and I-300 can no longer be enforced.

“This decision puts the ball back in the Legislature’s court. Judge Smith-Camp and the 8th Circuit are still wrong on the facts and we are disappointed that the Supreme Court will not give Initiative 300 the hearing it deserves. But now the Legislature must work diligently to create new corporate farming policies that will again level the playing field for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” commented John Crabtree, Development Officer at the Center for Rural Affairs.

In 1982, by a vote of the people, the constitution of Nebraska was amended to include a provision that prohibited corporate farming, with crucial exceptions for family farm and ranch corporations, commonly known as Initiative 300.

Initiative 300 has been part of an agricultural climate in Nebraska that has helped the state retain more family farmers and ranchers than most states while also retaining agricultural production, livestock production in particular.

For more information on Initiative 300, visit:

“We will now turn over attention to the Nebraska Legislature, and immediately to LB 516 and whatever type of study or task force on corporate farming issues that comes from that bill currently pending in the Agriculture Committee of the Unicameral,” said Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs Rural Research & Analysis Program Director.

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs

Values. Worth. Action.

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