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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Building Hope for a Better Future

Building Hope for a Better Future in a Challenging Age

Center for Rural Affairs 2005 Annual Report - Part I

Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs,

Our Mission: Establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and future of their communities.

Our Vision: Become the leading force engaging people and ideas in securing a better future for rural America.

Fighting the Good Fight for Policy Change

We gained a partner in the fight for limitations on federal farm program payments that subsidize mega farms to drive smaller operations out of business. Oxfam – one of the world’s largest international development organizations – wants big payments stopped because they are undermining Africa’s small farmers. Too often, family farmers around the world are pitted against each other. We’re helping them join forces.

Congress did not pass payment limitations, but we continue to build strength. Payment limitations gained the support of another major state commodity organization – the Iowa Corn Growers Association – thanks to the efforts of committed family farmers speaking out. And a Kellogg Foundation poll found voters in Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota favored payment limits over other spending cuts by nearly three to one.

We fought to hold our key gains in the last farm bill – the Conservation Security Program, which rewards farmers and ranchers for good stewardship, and the Value Added Producers Grant Program, which helps family operations build new higher value markets. The Conservation Security Program survived an attack on its budget, but lost some funding. The Value Added Program emerged unscathed.

We helped fix some biases in the Conservation Security Program against farmers who rely on legume-based rotations for nitrogen. And we helped steer one-third of the Value Added Producer grants to projects specifically aimed at small and midsize farms or sustainable agriculture.

We joined with a coalition of conservation and rural development groups to work together in shaping the next farm bill to support family farms, conservation, and rural development. We hired a new organizer to build a National Rural Action Network – tens of thousands of people across the nation speaking out for rural America on critical issues before Congress.

In the Nebraska Legislature, we had our best year ever. With our friends and allies, we won $850,000 for grants to family farmers and ranchers for value added initiatives, $250,000 in grants to rural communities for entrepreneurial development, a doubling of funding for microenterprise development (businesses with five or fewer employees), and the nation’s first ever microenterprise investment tax credit.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs

Values. Worth. Action


  • At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I find it ironic that your post on "What if Rural Mattered?" is followed immediately by a post about losing a tough battle for payment limits, barely holding onto conservation and barely winning and getting the value added program back. Perhaps winning more of these battles is what it would look like if Rural Mattered.


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