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Farm Bill Meeting - "Littler is Better" for Small Towns

December 7, 2006

Boise, ID - When it comes to Idaho's small towns, bigger is not always better. That was the conclusion this week during a meeting about prospective content for the next U.S. Farm Bill. It's a massive and complex piece of legislation that deals not just with agricultural issues, but with rural economic development.

Kathie Starkweather with the Center for Rural Affairs, believes previous policies of trying to lure big companies to small towns is "backwards." She says instead, small businesses should be the focus.

"What we've found through the research is that businesses that have five employees or less are the foundation on which rural community and economic development can survive and thrive."

According to Starkweather, the "big business" state of mind doesn't work for farming and ranching towns.

"In the past, we've traditionally tried to build rural communities by bringing businesses in; sometimes that works, but more oftentimes it doesn't."

Congress is expected to start drafting the Farm Bill next month.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ID