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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Focus on Critical Ethanol Issues Now

Focus on Critical Ethanol Issues Now: Profit, Conservation, Hunger

by Chuck Hassebrook,, Center for Rural Affairs

Now is the time to ask critical questions and set farsighted strategies to develop ethanol production in a way that serves the common good. High oil prices are driving a dramatic increase in ethanol production that will reshape agriculture and rural economies (see article front page). We need to steer it in the right direction.

>> PROFIT – We should help beginning farmers, family farmers, and workers in ethanol plants become the owners. Keeping the profits in rural America in many hands will increase the benefit to rural communities.

Ethanol production is capital intensive. Small and beginning farmers struggle to come up with the capital to share in the ownership. Meanwhile, potential profits are attracting capital from large investment funds.

One solution would be to provide the 51 cent per gallon ethanol tax credit only to plants that are majority locally owned and provide assistance to workers and small farmers to buy in.

>> CONSERVATION – If land is removed from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to feed ethanol plants, will the conservation benefits be maintained? There should be incentives to leave parts of fields in contour grass strips, grass windbreaks, grass waterways, and buffer strips.

Ethanol production will eventually come from biomass – grasses, crop residues, etc. That could encourage stripping land of crop residue and widespread destruction of wildlife habitat. But with forward thinking public policies, it could enhance the environment.

We should focus some research on producing ethanol from alfalfa, to give farmers a market for a resource conserving rotation crop. We should condition tax credits on leaving sufficient crop residue to maintain organic matter and prevent erosion. And we should develop new approaches to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that allow grass to be harvested for ethanol production only if timed to maintain wildlife and erosion control benefits.

>> LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION – Ethanol production has already contributed positively to the reemergence of farmer cattle feeding in states like Iowa, prompted by availability of feed byproducts.

However, one proposed model for ethanol production would do just the opposite. Some propose co-locating ethanol plants with big feedlots and using the manure to power the ethanol plant while feeding the byproducts on site. Publicly funded research institutions should focus on developing models that integrate ethanol production with dispersed family farm based livestock production.

>> FOOD SECURITY – There is no direct tradeoff between hunger and ethanol production. Hunger is largely not the result of insufficient grain supplies. Nonetheless, extreme shortages prompted by increased ethanol production could contribute to world hunger. USDA projects much more volatile markets in which a severe drought could prompt severe shortages.

Congress should consider reestablishing farmer-owned grain reserves and other policies to hold grain off the market for use at times of severe shortages.

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

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seniors Increasing in Rural Communities

Number of Senior Citizens Increasing in Our Rural Communities

The elderly often end up segregated from the community – instead we should embrace their experience and desire to contribute

by Michael Holton,, Center for Rural Affairs

Last month we looked at the assets seniors bring to small rural communities and how we don’t use their skills and experience in meaningful ways to help our communities grow. Let’s look at some demographic trends to bring the picture into clearer focus.

Currently, over 70 percent of the nation’s counties are considered non-metropolitan. While the definition of rural includes towns of 2,500 or less, remember we have over 15,000 communities in our country this size. And over 25 percent of all older people in the United States live in or around them. More than a quarter of elderly Americans reside in rural areas.

The Midwest is home to a good portion of settled seniors. Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska have upwards of 20 percent or more senior residents. Another factor to consider, the population base of senior citizens continues to grow and does not appear to be anywhere close to stabilizing yet.

What does this mean in terms of how we work in community development? With rural areas suffering depopulation of all ages, health care becomes an issue for seniors. When economically the community begins to lose health care facilities, pharmacies, doctors, dentists, and other providers, the real victims become the increasing population force of senior citizens.

Much like youth, we often fall into the trap of trying to figure out what we can do for the senior population. What we really need instead is open dialogue. Rather than building senior citizen housing, assisted living facilities, hospice care, and more senior citizen centers to segregate our most prized assets, why don’t we ask them what they would like to see done?

More often than not, the biggest request from the elderly is a wish to contribute to the community in a meaningful way rather than to be segregated. Through years of experience, they have answers to all sorts of community problems. As we advocate for our communities and their survival for the future, let’s ask the people who live in the communities what that survival may look like!

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

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Top 10 Reasons Small Schools Work Better

Top 10 Reasons Small Schools Work Better

Participation, belonging, personalization just a few of the findings from a new Rural Schools and Community Trust report

from the Center for Rural Affairs newsletter regarding a report from the Rural Schools and Community Trust authored by Lorna Jimerson

With the start of each new legislative session, small school supporters across the nation wonder what attempt will be thrown at them to cease their existence. Whether it is through some “tweaking” in a state aid formula to tighten and restrict their funding or outright disassembly, small schools know how to educate their students and can do it with greater results than their larger counterparts.

A report recently released by the Rural School and Community Trust reiterated what the Center for Rural Affairs and many other small school advocates have been saying for some time. Lorna Jimerson, Ed.D, author of the report The Hobbit Effect: Why Small Works in Public Schools offers her top 10 research-based reasons why small works for schools.
1. There is greater participation in extracurricular activities, and that is linked to academic success.
2. Small schools are safer.
3. Kids feel they belong.
4. Small class size allows more individualized instruction.
5. Good teaching methods are easier to implement.
6. Teachers feel better about their work.
7. Mixed-ability classes avoid condemning some students to low expectations.
8. Multi-age classes promote personalized learning and encourage positive social interactions.
9. Smaller districts mean less bureaucracy.
10. More grads in one school alleviate many problems of transitions to new schools.

The report goes into detail about each of these 10 reasons and can be found on the Rural School and Community Trust’s website, . Contact Lorna Jimerson, Ed.D (author) at 802.425.2497 or Marty Strange, Center for Rural Affairs co-founder, at 802.728.4383 for more information regarding this report.

Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rural Maine Publication Highlights Rural Entrepreneurs

Publication from Rural Maine Highlights Rural Entrepreneurs

Report illustrates that unique culture and character, combined with creativity and talent, can lead to a successful business venture

by Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs,

Readers of this newsletter know that the Center for Rural Affairs has long advocated for rural policy based on entrepreneurship and small business development. We have witnessed in Nebraska how rural policy based on entrepreneurship can transform individuals, families, and communities through our REAP program.

We have witnessed the strength of the rural entrepreneurial spirit in our studies of the economy of the Great Plains and the Midwest. Now, another example of the entrepreneurial spirit in rural America has come our way, and we are honored to recommend it to our readers and anyone interested in how rural policy should look.

Telling Their Stories: Women Business Owners in Western Maine is a new publication of the Western Mountain Alliance, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., and the University of Maine at Farmington’s Women’s Studies Program. Telling Their Stories looks at 14 different rural entrepreneurs, their businesses, their motivations, and the risk-taking and perseverance required to make a success of each venture. Just as important, the publication also discusses the community, culture, and character of rural western Maine and how that influenced the success of each business.

While Telling Their Stories focuses on entrepreneurs in and the character of rural western Maine, it is a symbol of all of rural America. All rural areas have unique cultures and characters that can inspire entrepreneurs. And all rural communities have creative and talented residents who – often with a little assistance – can transform those ideas and talents into their own successful business ventures.

What is needed is a realization in rural communities that the kinds of businesses highlighted in Telling Their Stories are important and a vital part of the future of those communities. What is needed is a new rural policy that allows that realization to become reality by focusing resources on approaches to take advantage of rural character, culture, creativity, and talents.

Telling Their Stories is an important addition to pointing us down the path of that realization and a new rural policy. As debate begins on the 2007 farm bill and the kind of rural policy and the kind of rural communities we want to create, anyone interested in the future of rural America should read the inspiring stories in Telling Their Stories.

You can download a copy at the Western Mountain Alliance website, , or contact them at 207.778.3885 to request a copy.

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

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

North Dakota Study Places Price Tag on Outmigration

Study Places a Price Tag on Outmigration

Research estimates a loss of nearly $1 billion in North Dakota’s net taxable income.

by Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs,

A new report from North Dakota shows that outmigration is not only bad for rural communities and their social and civic institutions, but it costs money. According to the North Dakota State Center, outmigration cost North Dakota nearly $1 billion in net taxable income from 1993 to 2005.

The report shows that people moving into North Dakota during the 13-year period brought about $1 billion less in net taxable income than the people leaving the state took to their new states of residence. During the period in question, North Dakota had a net outmigration of 44,000 people (people leaving the state minus people who moved into the state).

The income levels of people moving into the state also contributed to the decline in taxable income. In some of North Dakota’s largest population centers, an increase in population was accompanied with a loss in net taxable income, suggesting that those moving in had lower income levels than those moving out.

Only two of North Dakota’s 53 counties had increases in net taxable income during the 13-year period – one a small, rural county and the other the home of Bismarck, the state capitol.

This report not only places a price tag on outmigration that could be useful in demonstrating impacts on rural communities, but it also suggests that public policies and initiatives that seek to address outmigration in rural communities could have a net financial benefit to the community and to taxpayers. Significant outmigration in rural areas is eventually a cost to the society – infrastructure stills needs to be maintained and upgraded, institutions like schools still need funding, and the population left in many rural communities – often the very young, the very old, and the poor – need more services.

Rural outmigration renders communities less economically self-sufficient and places a greater burden on the rest of society to maintain the community. Investing in programs like the New Homestead Act and community development initiatives like HomeTown Competitiveness that have addressed rural outmigration as a goal may eventually prove to be a cost-effective response.

Rural communities are in need of public policy and local initiatives that work together to address the issues of outmigration and youth attraction. Society and taxpayers also need efficient responses to enhance the economic self-sufficiency of rural communities.

Solutions to these issues and needs exist – will and action are necessary to push them forward.

The coming 2007 Farm Bill debate provides an opportunity to demonstrate both. As rural issues are pushed to the forefront of legislative action during the 2007 Farm Bill debate, we will all have opportunities to reveal costs of the past and display potential rewards of the future.

Contact: Jon Bailey, for more information.

Disagree? Agree? Contact Jon Bailey, for more information, post a comment here or contact John Crabtree, Sign our Strengthening Rural America petition and join the National Rural Action Network, tens of thousands of rural voices standing up for rural America.

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats Can Thank Rural Voters

Democrats, on verge of Senate control, can thank rural voters

from the University of Kentucky Rural Blog (see link under title)

If Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate, part of the reason will be better appeals to rural voters. That paid off for the victor in Missouri, a state with demographics and a voting history that closely reflect those of the nation -- and was a key element of the Democratic campaign in Montana, where challenger Jon Tester led Republican Sen. Conrad Burns by 1,729 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting and at least one recount under way. Democrats could regain the Senate with a Tester victory.

In Missouri, Republican Sen. Jim Talent lost to, Democrat Claire McCaskill, "who narrowly lost a race for governor in 2004 because of weak support in rural areas, traveled in an recreational vehicle through small towns, reminding voters that she was 'a daughter of rural Missouri,' born in Rolla, Mo., and raised, for part of her childhood, near her family’s feed mill," writes Susan Saulny of The New York Times. (Read more)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited McCaskill's rural efforts: "Credit for McCaskill’s victory goes in part to her success in garnering more votes from Republican-rich rural turf. For example, in southwest Missouri’s Greene County, which includes Springfield, she captured more than 40 percent of the vote — a strong performance for a Democrat in such solid Republican country. McCaskill had campaigned for months in rural communities, in an attempt to chip away at the traditional Republican edge that has been dooming many Democratic statewide candidates in recent elections," writes Deirdre Shesgreen.

An election recap from the News-Leader in Springfield ran the headline "McCaskill's rural strategy works in Greene County." Tracy Swartz reports, "After her loss in 2004, McCaskill vowed to spend more time in southwest Missouri. She made dozens of trips to the area, including a last-minute campaign stop Tuesday afternoon at Delaware Elementary School in Springfield." (Read more)

The Missouri race first gained national notoriety when Republican radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, a native of Cape Girardeau, Mo., criticized an ad McCaskill ran last month featuring actor Michael J. Fox, who offered an endorsement because of her pro-stem cell research stance. "The Missouri race also was seen by some as a reflection of the nation’s political leanings. That’s based on Missouri’s unmatched record of voting with the presidential victor in all but one election since 1900," reports Shesgreen. (Read more)

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

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Impacts of Increased Ethanol Production

Impacts of Increased Ethanol Production

Tripling of corn for ethanol and more reliance on yield enhancing seeds and chemicals

by Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs

USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins recently presented analysis projecting some dramatic impacts from future growth in ethanol production. Below are some highlights, summarized in our words.

- The share of the US corn crop committed to ethanol will have tripled, from 6 percent in 2000 to nearly 20 percent for the 2006 crop.
- Corn ethanol alone cannot greatly reduce US dependence on crude oil imports. In 2006, it will account for the equivalent of just 1.5 percent of US crude oil imports.
- Oil prices have a greater effect on the profitability of ethanol production than corn prices. Crude oil prices would need to fall by more than half from their current $70 per barrel for ethanol to no longer be competitive with gasoline. With continued relatively high oil prices, ethanol plants can make money at much higher corn prices. Higher corn prices will not likely halt the ethanol expansion.
- Corn prices could set new record highs over the next 5 to 6 years in response to growing ethanol production. Corn usage will likely shift from exports to domestic ethanol production. Brazil and Argentina will produce more corn to take up the reduction in US exports.
- Corn acreage will increase in response to growing ethanol production. Higher corn prices may bring some land back into production from expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. Higher corn prices may also prompt Congress to reduce CRP enrollments in the next farm bill.
- Corn stocks will be tight and markets volatile. A drought or increased demand by a major player like China could cause dramatic corn price increases.
- Cellulosic ethanol production appears to be the best renewable alternative for reducing crude oil imports, but it will be some years into the future before the technology is developed and its impact is felt.
- Recent analyses by Citigroup of New York City mirror USDA projections. Citigroup projects ethanol profit margins of over 20 percent for the next 10 years and a tripling of production. Increased ethanol production is projected to use 31 percent of US corn supplies, raising corn prices to $2.90 a bushel or higher. Growing demand for corn will likely cause shifts from soybean acreage to corn and lead to big increases in use of yield enhancing seeds and chemicals.

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

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Monday, November 06, 2006

47% of Rural Voters Still Persuadable

An Associated Press-AOL News poll conducted Oct. 20-25 found that 38 percent of voters consider themselves persuadable (as reported on Friday, November 3, 2006)

Almost half of rural voters _ 47 percent _ said they were persuadable, the largest group of persuadable voters among demographic groups tested - suburbanites ranked second with 40% considering themselves persuadable.

Among persuadable voters, 91 percent say that economic issues are the top concern, labeling economic issues as either extremely or very important. 88 percent of persuadable voters said the war in Iraq is extremely or very important.

As mentioned in previous posts, rural voters continue to figure prominently in the outcome of this midterm election. Post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Rural Vote and the Future of Rural America

The Rural Vote and the Future of Rural America

by John Crabtree,, Center for Rural Affairs

As Election Day approaches and campaign advertising thickens, interesting developments are appearing on the horizon. Despite the divisive, hyper-partisan tenor of this election and the vitriol of many congressional races, there is a growing interest in participating in this midterm election, especially among rural voters.

Rural Americans will decide the outcome of a number of highly competitive congressional races. And rural voters may, in the end, determine which political party will be handed the reigns of Congressional leadership – at least for the next two years.

Rural voters in this election have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity, on Election Day and beyond. Congress is scheduled to rewrite the farm bill next year. The 2007 farm bill must not continue the status quo in farm and rural policy. Not if we hope to revitalize family farms, ranches and rural communities.

We must stop subsidizing farm consolidation by limiting farm program payments that mega farms use to drive smaller operations out of business and bar beginning farmers from getting started. And the farm bill must be refocused on real solutions to the challenges faced by rural Americans – conservation on working lands, support for beginning farmers and ranchers, and investment in entrepreneurship on farms, ranches, and rural main-streets.

Rural Americans can and should make their voices heard on every Election Day. But the farm debate and the future of rural America will hinge on whether they continue to stand up for rural America during all the other days, from this election to the next.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Center Releases Analysis of Initiative 423's Impact on Education

Center for Rural Affairs Releases Analysis of Initiative 423 Impact on Education

Lyons, NE – The Center for Rural Affairs released a report today, entitled False Choices and Bad Choices: Initiative 423 and Public Education in Nebraska, which analyzes the effects of Initiative 423, a proposed initiative to the Nebraska Constitution that will be voted upon at the November 7th general election.

“Initiative 423 has the potential to place school districts, communities, Nebraska families, and Nebraska children in a public financing box from which there appears to be limited escape routes - ask taxpayers to increase school property taxes, adjust school property tax limits upward, or accept some of the more poorly funded public schools in the nation,” said Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs Program Director and author of the report.

The Center’s report estimated that had Initiative 423 existed for the 2006-07 school year alone, Frontier, Red Willow and Hitchcock County school districts would have lost state aid as follows:
Maywood Public Schools - $16,594 loss
Eustis-Farnam Public Schools - $29,712 loss
Medicine Valley Public Schools - $62,896 loss
McCook Public Schools - $274,573 loss
Southwest Public Schools - $78,725 loss
Hitchcock County Unified School System - $21,578 loss

“Residents of school districts and local officials can, of course, accept their fate and take a significant decrease in state aid and make the best of it. This is precisely the choice Initiative 423 will force all school districts to consider: poorly funded schools or higher property taxes,” added Bailey.

Independent analyses (Center for Rural Affairs and Legislative Fiscal Office) reached the conclusion that if Initiative 423 had existed since 1996 General Fund appropriations in FY2006-07 would have been from $542 million less to $643 million less. The Center’s further analysis shows that such a reduction would likely have meant reductions in state aid to local school districts – with expenditures per student dropping from 8% to as much as 25% below current levels, which consequently would have dropped Nebraska’s ranking among other states from 21st in per student expenditures to 30th under the best case scenario to as low as 48th. Likewise, the percentage of local school funding received from state aid would have dropped to 35% under the best case scenario to as low as 20%, driving Nebraska’s ranking among other states to as low as 47th or 50th.

“It is important for Nebraskans to realize that Initiative 423 will be part of the Nebraska Constitution and will have real, long-term, cumulative effects. Over time, no matter the scenario, Initiative 423 would place Nebraska at or near the bottom of states in terms of state government support of K-12 public education,” Bailey explained.

“Adoption of Initiative 423 will start the slow, steady march of declining state investment in K-12 education that could land Nebraska at or near the bottom of national rankings,” Bailey asserted.

According to the Center’s report, negative impacts on public policy would likely include: increased school property taxes up to allowable levy limits; increased requests for school property tax override attempts; pressure to consolidate schools; downward pressure on academic performance; and pressure to reduce academic offerings, academic programs and extracurricular activities.

The appendix to the Center for Rural Affairs’ report includes the dollar value of the estimated 5.7% state aid reduction for the 2006-07 school year in each school district in Nebraska if Initiative 423 had been implemented in 2006. To view a full copy or determine what your school could stand to lose, go to or contact Kim Preston at the Center for Rural Affairs ( or 402-687-2100).

Based on the report’s predicted spending lid of 3.8% growth (3.2% inflation and 0.6% population) that would exist if Initiative 423 became law as well as projected General Fund appropriations for the next two years, Initiative 423 would require that the General Fund budget be reduced by $60.4 million for FY07-08 (from FY06-07) and by another $115.7 million for FY08-09. That means adoption of Initiative 423 would require General Fund budget cuts totaling over $175 million over the next two years.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Global Free Trade Talks Risk Total Failure

WTO Chief Warns of Risks to Global Free Trade

Global free trade talks risk total failure and their collapse would erode faith in the multilateral system on which international commerce depends, warned Pascal Lamy head of the World Trade Organization in an editorial published Friday in The Wall Street Journal.

The WTO's Doha round was suspended in July after nearly five years of negotiations because of seemingly insurmountable differences over agriculture and that suspension could become permanent without progress by early next year, added Lamy.

"There comes a time in every negotiation where the prospect of failure looms. For the Doha round of global trade negotiations, that time has nearly arrived".

Although accounting for less then 8% of world trade, agriculture remained the 'Gordian Knot' that had to be cut for a deal to be reached across the talks, which range from industrial goods to services and new rules on the environment and dumping.

The United States must offer further cuts in farm subsidies, while the European Union and Japan and leading developing countries such as Brazil, India and China would have to make trade concessions too, according to Lamy, who is currently in Washington to meet top U.S. trade and agriculture officials.

Reforming agriculture was always politically difficult but what separated them was not that much, just a few billion dollars of farm subsidies and a few percentage point cuts in average farm and industrial tariffs. "Compare that to what we all stand to gain," Lamy said.

What had already been agreed since the WTO talks were launched in Qatar in 2001, in agricultural and industrial reform, services, cuts to environmentally harmful fishing subsidies and slashing red tape and corruption was already more than achieved in any previous trade round, he said.

The successful conclusion of the round offered an "insurance policy" against protectionism and economic nationalism of the sort that helped trigger World War Two, he added.

"Like a progressive malady, a failure in the global trade talks will erode the multilateral trading system that has underpinned the global economy for nearly 60 years. Time is short and the stakes are high"

But the WTO had only a "few months left" to rescue the talks before the U.S. Congress turns its attention to two pieces of legislation that -- depending on which way they go -- could sound the death knell for the global negotiations.

The U.S. legislature must review farm budget spending. It must also decide whether to extend special powers allowing President George W. Bush to reach trade deals.

Without those powers, it becomes almost impossible for the United States to negotiate international trade pacts because Congress can demand to be consulted every step of the way.

However US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns admitted differences in world trade talks are so great it is doubtful World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy could come up with a draft plan to bring parties together.

"There's some pretty fundamental differences here" said Johanns said before meeting with Lamy. " Just in agriculture, there's a big difference. I just think it would be very, very difficult for Lamy to put together a text to bridge that kind of gap," he added.

Johanns conceded that while "talks are on life support" the United States remained committed to Doha and restarting trade negotiations.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vote on November 7th

Vote on November Seventh
By Elisha Greeley Smith,, Center for Rural Affairs

Voting is the most cherished right of American citizenship and a crucial responsibility for rural Nebraskans. You have a chance on November 7th to help create a future for rural Nebraska with thriving family farms and ranches and vibrant rural communities

Here are three votes you can cast for the future of rural Nebraska.

Vote “No” on Initiative 423. Initiative 423 will increase property taxes for farmers, ranchers and other rural business and property owners. Initiative 423 will force rural schools to choose between higher taxes or drastic budget cuts that will harm education and limit our children’s futures. Initiative 423 will force rural communities to cut police, fire and rescue services; and reduce investment in economic development and critical infrastructure.

Vote “Repeal” on Initiative 422 (repeal of LB 126). LB 126 mandates the assimilation of all Class I districts (elementary only schools) into K-12 districts. School consolidation should be a local decision based on local circumstances. Given the economic and social importance of schools to rural communities, citizens deserve a voice in the future of such a vital institution.

Vote “Yes” on Amendment 5. Amendment 5 would allow the use of the school lands trust fund, already dedicated to public schools, for early childhood education programs. Amendment 5 will give children from vulnerable families a better opportunity to do their best in school – without increasing taxes. Investing in early childhood education helps children in school and throughout their lives and increases the likelihood they will attend college.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wellstone: "The future belongs..."

“The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Senator Paul Wellstone

Paul Wellstone was a friend of mine. I was fortunate to have met him, worked with him and spent time with him. Paul Wellstone cared deeply about rural America, and more importantly, he cared deeply about rural Americans.

If Senator Wellstone were alive today, he would be challenging all of us to stand up, to prepare for the long battle ahead for the future of rural America. He would tell us that the next farm bill needs to be about more than farms. He would tell us that the next farm bill must create a future for all of rural America, for family farmers and ranchers; for the next generation of farmers and ranchers; for rural communities; rural mainstreets; rural small business owners; rural working families; and everyone who calls rural America home.

And he would be right once again.

I am writing to ask you to avoid waiting for our first 2007 appeal letter and help us save mailing costs by making an online contribution at – – just click on the Donate Now button and make your contribution, quickly, easily and securely.

$500, $250, $100, $50 – or whatever you can afford – it has never been more important to stand up for the future of rural America.

If we are to break the stranglehold that the some of the most powerful political and economic forces in America have over Congress, the farm bill and rural policy, then we must work together, and we must start now.

Donate Now – – for rural America, for your future…our children’s future.

Beginning farmers and ranchers, small business owners, rural entrepreneurs and rural communities – these are the people that we stood up for last year. We stood up to preserve what is best about rural America – family farming and ranching, yes, but also rural schools and the quality of life in rural communities.

For 33 years, the Center for Rural Affairs have stood steadfast in defense of rural America, not just when it was easy, not just when it was popular, but more importantly when it was difficult, unpopular, even controversial – and when powerful political and economic forces aligned against us, because that is what rural America needs most.

We will stand up for rural America again this year. But we cannot do it alone.

Donate Now – – by joining with thousands of other rural Americans, every gift – be it $500 or $25 – speaks louder than any of us could alone.

Rural America faces stern challenges. We need your support so that, together, we can rise to meet those challenges and continue the fight for rural people and places that you have been reading about in our newsletter and elsewhere.

If you prefer to send a contribution directly, instead of online, please send a check to:

Center for Rural Affairs 145 Main St PO Box 136Lyons, NE 68038


John Crabtree
Center for Rural Affairs

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.