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Plan Earmarks Rural Economy

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 By Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Contact
March 8, 2007

A Midwest rural advocacy group says the farm bill being written in Washington offers a great opportunity to give outstate Minnesota an economic boost. Chuck Hassebrook, with the Center for Rural Affairs, says a plan under consideration would provide loans and training to jumpstart the economy.

"It would invest $50 million a year in the small businesses and the rural entrepreneurs that have long been the backbone of the rural Minnesota economy."

Hassebrook says the proposal includes technical and financial assistance. He adds funding is available if Congress would shift priorities from corporate farms to rural areas, which need and deserve the investment.

"In rural Minnesota, most of the new jobs come from very small businesses, those with five or fewer employees. And, the rates of self employment are higher in the rural areas of Minnesota than they are in metropolitan Minnesota. But, so often, economic development strategies, economic development policies, overlook small business."

Hassebrook believes funding rural economic development through the new farm bill would provide a diversified business climate and a strong economy.

The proposed legislation, SF566, is sponsored by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

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