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Tending Minnesota's Rural Economy

July 2, 2007

Over a dozen Minnesota groups have sent a letter to state Congress members involved in writing the new farm bill, asking them to make rural economic development a priority. Spokesman Dan Owens with the Center for Rural Affairs says it's a great opportunity to create jobs and boost local economies.

“Many people consider the farm bill as only to do with farming. But, in fact, the farm bill contains many provisions that have to do with all of rural America.”

He notes it can include things like technical assistance to small businesses and help getting new businesses started.

“In rural Minnesota, the vast majority of jobs are created by micro-enterprise businesses. That would be businesses with five or fewer employees. And, these programs will support the type of job creation that has been proven to work in rural communities throughout the Midwest.”

Owens adds that the farm bill is also a good opportunity to level the "economic playing field."

“In past years, federal dollars have really flown towards urban areas, to support small business and urban development programs. And, while those are worthwhile, rural areas need to receive an equal amount of funding in rural economic development programs as well.”

He says the Center for Rural Affairs got involved in the Minnesota effort because the state's Congressional delegation will have a big say in how the new farm bill is shaped.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN