It’s that time of year, when pundits across the country share their thoughts on what 2011 might bring. Rural America’s resolutions should be considered as well.
Avoid taking two steps forward, one step back ... USDA’s long-awaited GIPSA rule offers fairness to family farmers and ranchers by breathing life and competition into their livestock markets. USDA should stand their ground, ignore the “sky is falling” hyperbole from the meatpackers, and move the rule forward.
Likewise, the Affordable Care Act addresses many of the unique health care challenges that America’s rural communities face. It would be tragic to undermine reform of America’s dysfunctional health care system when family farmers, ranchers, mainstreet businesses and rural communities are beginning to see the positive impacts the Act will have on their business, their employees and their communities.
Invest in the future while living within our means... Government at every level - federal, state, local - is grappling with tough budgetary decisions. We understand the need to tighten belts in tough times, but we must avoid being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Investments in entrepreneurship and small business development, for example, provide economic opportunities in our rural communities that create jobs and grow the economy (and tax revenues).
Remember that not every investment need impact the budget... A strong, federal renewable electricity standard – twenty percent of electricity from wind and other renewable sources – doesn’t depend on taxpayer dollars to create rural jobs, economic benefits for farmers and ranchers, and a better energy future for rural America.