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Recent posts by Brian Depew

Demand for small business capital is strong

The unexpected passing of Jeff Reynolds, long-time director of the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), made 2017 a year of change and transition for our small business development work. 

Jeff was committed to rural small business development, and to each and every small business owner we ever worked with. Since becoming program director in 2000, Jeff led a dramatic expansion of our small business lending, training, and technical assistance work. 

He fundamentally believed in small business development as a strategy for small towns. He helped design, campaign for, and win both state and federal programs that now provide resources to other small business development organizations. His impact extends far beyond Nebraska.

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. 

If Congress fails to act, key farm bill initiatives that support beginning farmers, local and regional market development, and rural small businesses will come to a screeching halt. An opportunity to reform federal crop insurance and improve conservation programs also hangs in the balance. 

Our policy platform for the new farm bill stands around three pillars. 

From the desk of the executive director: people powered capital

Almost weekly, I read surprising new statistics about capital concentration.

The eight richest people in the world now control as much capital as half of the world’s population. The richest 158 families in the United States were the source of more than 50 percent of early cash in the last presidential campaign cycle. The world’s largest company is worth half a trillion dollars.

Corporate Farming Notes

Farmland owned by foreign interests on the rise

A recent report from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that foreign holdings of U.S. farmland doubled between 2004 and 2014. Foreign investors now control 27.3 million acres of farmland.

Among the leading foreign owners of domestic farmland is the Chinese firm Shuanghui. The same firm purchased pork giant Smithfield Foods in 2013. Shuanghui owns more than 146,000 acres of farmland in the U.S.

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