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

Monday, January 09, 2006

What if Rural Mattered? - Part II

What if Rural Mattered? - Part II

The response to the question that I posed is a previous post (actually, a small series of posts)regarding what rural America would look like if rural mattered - What If Rural Mattered? - - created such quality dialogue that I am compelled to follow-up.

One theme that ran throughout that discussion was, "...of course rural America matters, the question should be, how to we make sure rural America matters as much as it should..."

OK then, that is the question, how do we ensure that Rural Matters - not more, nor less than we deserve? What needs to change to create that reality and how do we make that change happen?

What needs to change to ensure that Rural Matters?

How do we make that change happen?

For the sake of reminder, I am including the original post here as well. Please feel free to post any ideas that you want. Legislation is important, but certainly not the only thing that needs to change - so do not limit yourself. And do not worry if you think you ideas might differ than mine, that is the whole point of this dialogue, to exchange ideas and challenge each other to think as broadly as possible about how to achieve our vision of the future of rural America.

What if Rural Mattered?

The question itself is presumptuous. And it depends on ones point of view, I guess. In pop culture, in New York City and Los Angeles, and on Wall Street, not many concern themselves with rural people. In Washington, the same is often true.

So, what if rural mattered? Would mega farms be allowed to use unlimited farm payments to drive beginning farmers and smaller operations out of business? Would rural development always be the last farm bill programs funded and the first cut? Would rural poverty and economic hardship be as enduring and persistent as they are now?

If you read what I have written in these pages, you know what I think. But what do you think? What is the value of rural America? What makes it worth fighting for? What would it look like, if rural mattered – not more than we deserve, not less – but if we just truly mattered?

Send me an e-mail, write me a letter or post a comment here - because I want to know, we all need to know, what it would look like if rural mattered.

John Crabtree,
Box 136
Lyons, NE 68038
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The next Farm Bill needs to be based on what is best for rural communities and rural people (like farmers and ranchers), not what is best for agribusiness. That Washington perspective needs to change - what is best for Cargill, ADM and Smithfield is not what is best for small towns and family farmers. Congress needs to understand the difference.

  • At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with the last post about the Farm Bill, but I also think that in addition to that, Washington ought to care about the non-farming people that live in the Midwest. I think there ought to be some sort of incentives for businesses to be able to pay their employees better wages and offer benefits to their employees. I think that the government needs to provide better funding to schools so that we can compete with larger schools so that we can keep our teachers from leaving. I think with some of those things happening, that would provide a better economy which would sustain businesses and would encourage young people to want to stay in Rural America. It wasn't that long ago that John posted an article about how young people WANT to come to Rural America to start businesses. But in reality how do they afford to do that?

    I don't know what the answers are, but I think that if Washington would just value Rural America a little more, that would at least get the ball rolling.

  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Robert Wirgau said…

    What Rural America Could Be!

    A local food producer, where communities would get all basic nutrition from growers within 50-100 miles of their homes.

    An organic food and fiber producing system, made up of numerous small producers with off-farm-inputs approaching zero.

    A major energy producer that compliments the organic system.

    A showcase of small permaculture farms using otherwise marginal lands.

    A well managed system of watersheds that contribute to water, wildlife and soil conservation.

    Populated by well-planned, vibrant, caring and prosperous communities made up of culturally diverse neighbors.

    A haven for locally owned and controlled small businesses where NO chain store exist.

    A poverty release system for large urban areas by attracting large numbers of persons looking for an opportunity to be productive and successful.

    How Do We Get there?

    Implement all the policies/programs of CFRA nation wide

    Expand the CFRA and its activities as follows:
    + Have one division focus only on nation wide issues
    + Divide the country up into regions with similar rural characertistics and set up a division of CFRA in each region
    + Have a division of CFRA in each state, sized according to its needs, which are not covered by the other divisions
    Educate rural people that voting for America first, progressive political leaders is in their own best interests. The multinationals and their politicians are NO friends of America and that includes rural America.

    Promote truly worker/producer owner companies, which grow beyond family owned and operated enterprised.

    Return to the community banking concept and limit non-local bank ownership.

    Develop widely used, creative marketing systems and networks which support small size businesses. This should include small-to-small global trading.

    Set up system for community based investing in businesses, limiting ownership of preferred stock to people within 100 miles of the enterprise.

    Use distant learning technology to help keep small schools open while providing quality education


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