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PNS Daily Newscast - August 7, 2020 

The State Attorney of NY moves to dissolve the NRA; an update on the potential wave of pandemic evictions.

2020Talks - August 6, 2020 

Iowa's governor has restored the right to vote for people with past felony convictions via executive order; and Tennessee has a primary election today.

Federal Help Keeping Beginning Farmers on the Land

July 13, 2009

Lyons, Neb. – Are farmers and ranchers age 35 and younger becoming an endangered species? The Center for Rural Affairs says there has been a significant farmer decline in the past 15 years, the most dramatic drop of the last century.

According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average age of South Dakota farmers and ranchers is 55-plus, a figure that is prompting the federal government to grant assistance to attract a new generation to farming professions. Traci Bruckner, a policy analyst and rural policy program assistant with the Center for Rural Affairs, says the new U.S. Farm Bill contains provisions to help beginning agricultural producers, as well as individuals who want to start other types of rural businesses.

"Through the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill, there are special set-asides for beginning farmers and ranchers. The Value-Added Producer Grants program, which is currently ready for applications, also has special provisions set for beginning farmers and ranchers. And the Rural Micro-Enterprises Assistance program is one where organizations can apply for a grant to provide business planning, technical assistance and low-interest loans to people who want to start a small rural business."

Bruckner believes providing federal assistance to new farmers is crucial, particularly in today's economy, because of the serious credit squeeze.

"There is a drastic need out there for people to have access to credit, and small businesses are actually seeing the most profound impact because they don't have as many assets to secure their debt as larger businesses or larger farms. So, for the beginning farmers there are credit programs available through the Farm Service Agency as well. We want to make sure they're aware of those provisions."

The Center for Rural Affairs and Dakota Rural Action team up this week to host a series of Farm Bill workshops in South Dakota. Representatives of both organizations will meet with would-be farmers and ranchers, and others who may have ideas for small, rural businesses. Two workshops will be held on Tuesday, July 14, at the Yankton Area Arts/G.A.R. Hall in Yankton (10:00 a.m.-noon) and at the Cottonwood Bistro in Brookings (6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.); and one on Wednesday, July 15 in Sioux Falls at the Landscape Garden Center, 26971 Minnesota Ave (noon-2:00 p.m.).

David Law, Public News Service - SD