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Rural America shortchanged
By Chuck Hassebrook
The decisions we make in this time of economic and budget crisis -- about what is cut and what is cast off -- define who we are as a nation and shape our future.
Policy makers in Washington are about to make cuts in farm and rural spending. The question is how they will cut and whether their choices reflect the values of rural America and the interests of most rural Americans.
Congress must choose whether to put real, effective, and meaningful caps on big payments to the nation’s largest farms -- payments they use to drive smaller operations out of business. If Congress decides not to restrain excessive subsidies to these wealthy and powerful interests, it will inevitably be forced to instead cut support for family-sized farms and shortchange investments in the future of rural America.
Rural development programs that support small business and small towns have already been cut by close to one-third. Programs to support beginning farmers are in jeopardy. And in the cross hairs are conservation programs that reward farmers and ranchers who protect America’s land and water.
Cutting these investments in rural America’s future is not the right path. Times of budgetary crisis call for setting priorities that reflect the common good of Americans and help secure our future.
It’s time to stop mega subsidies for mega farms. We cannot afford them, and they harm rural America. No budget legislation that protects them and instead cuts investments in rural America’s future deserves our support or our respect.
Chuck Hassebrook is the executive director for the Center for Rural Affairs. The center was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and works to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.
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