Center for Rural Affairs September and October newsletter

Note from the editor:

This edition of our newsletter focuses on STEWARDSHIP of the natural environment upon which all of us – current and future generations – rely. 

Lowell and Milissa Osborne, who live on the Omaha Indian Reservation, know what it’s like to be stewards of the land. Bees moved onto their land, so they gave the bees a home and a chance to be productive. They study companion planting and treat the land with care, so the land will take care of them.

The next farm bill is featured in our executive director’s essay and in a fact sheet. We outline our priorities which protect the land, encourage diversified farming, and drive change in rural, small towns. As Brian says, “Stewardship of our land and water for future generations is a core tenet of our work at the Center.”

We hear from Dianne and Joe Rotta in Iowa whose family has farmed the same land for 132 years. They recently installed a clean energy system and now act as their own energy provider. The couple even banks energy to use during the harvest season, when their electricity is in higher demand.

Lastly, we learn that the number of older Americans is expected to double by 2050. The Center for Rural Affairs is forming a task force on aging in rural areas to explore the opportunities, challenges, and needs that are unique to rural elderly residents and the communities they call home. This will provide for future generations.

Stewardship is just one of the values showcased across our work. We believe these values reflect the best of rural America.

Inside this issue:

Smart policy creates sunny outlook – The Iowa legislature created the Iowa Solar Energy System Tax Credit in 2012. Designed to encourage local investment, the credit offsets up to 15 percent of the cost of a new installation. Legislators included limits of $5,000 per home or $20,000 per business to ensure accessibility. This incentive led to 2,524 new solar projects between 2012 and 2016.

There’s a buzz about Outhouse Honey Farm – Along a gravel road on the Omaha Reservation is a white house surrounded by gardens and fruit trees. On one side of the property is an aging outhouse – the namesake of the small operation, Outhouse Honey Farm.

Outhouse Honey Farm is one of 220+ Gardens on the Omaha Reservation – Members of the Omaha Tribe are working to improve access to fresh food, starting with growing produce in their own communities. The Center for Rural Affairs has worked alongside them during the last four years.

From the desk of the executive director: farm bill renewal is in sight – Congress is in the process of writing another farm bill. Political distractions are running high in Washington. But distracted or not – the current farm bill expires in September 2018. 

Number of older Americans expected to double by 2050 – Rural America, and the nation as whole, has entered a phase of significant demographic change. As of the last decennial census, there were more than 40.4 million Americans over the age of 65, composing 13.1 percent of the total population.

Farm bill priorities – Agriculture remains an important source of economic opportunity for people in rural areas. The farm bill can support small towns by crop insurance reform, conservation, beginning farmers, and rural development.

Ensure your legacy and impact by contributing to the Granary Foundation – Did you know the Center for Rural Affairs has an endowment? We do! It’s called the Granary Foundation, and it exists to ensure the Center can continue doing our important work in rural America for generations to come.

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