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Call to Refocus Farm Bill on Rural America

February 26, 2007


As Congress debates the 2007 Farm Bill, some feel strongly that a new direction for U.S. farm policy is the last chance to turn rural America around.

Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs agrees. He feels farm legislation has shortchanged smalltown Iowa for many years by placing so much attention on mega-farms.

"What we are proposing is that the next Farm Bill change that, by making a fundamental commitment to invest in our future by supporting small business, beginning farmers and value-added agriculture."

Hassebrook says if Congress would eliminate subsidies for mega-farms and put those savings into rural development, it would help. However, he adds, time is getting short.

"This is a critical time to do it. If we just let the current trends in rural America go another decade, it may too late to change it."

Hassebrook says Nebraska's "Rural Entrepreneur and Microenterprise Partnership Assistance Act," introduced ten years ago, has worked well and is a good example of how the federal government could encourage rural development.

Dick Layman/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - IA