Why does AFBF have this blog?
This blog is intended to offer resources for county and state Farm Bureaus and other groups that want to enhance the quality of life in rural communities so that future generations will want to stay on the farm. Tom Johnson, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri, and a member of the Making American Agriculture Profitable and Productive committee said, “Farmers need rural communities more than rural communities need farmers.” Farmers are tied to their land and cannot move away so it is up to the people who live in each commuity to help create a better place for themselves and their children.
Why does American Farm Farm Bureau have a rural affairs team?
American agriculture is a key component of rural communities, yet agriculture as an industry is becoming more reliant on the greater rural economy than rural communities are dependent on farmers. Averaged across all farms, 89 percent of farm income now comes from off-farm sources. Legislative, civic and business leaders must continue to seek ways to stimulate rural jobs and economic growth to sustain rural communities and the farms that surround them.
The landscape of rural America is changing. The average age in rural communities is increasing while these same communities are experiencing an outbound migration of younger generations in search of better educational and job opportunities. Many communities that once were vibrant now need assistance to maintain quality schools, medical facilities and essential infrastructure.
What are the priority issues for the AFBF rural affairs team?
Strengthening rural communities is a priority for Farm Bureau. Areas of outreach focus are entrepreneurship, local food systems, rural philanthropy, community leadership, community infrastructure, off farm job opportunities, value-add agriculture and agritourism.
Farm Bureau believes the following initiatives will maintain and revitalize rural America:
Economic Development – Value-added agriculture, competitive tax and regulatory incentives, expansion of the renewable fuels industry, and USDA rural development programs all offer opportunities to stimulate job creation and enhance rural incomes.
Strengthening Education - Rural children deserve equal access to the educational opportunities afforded their urban and suburban counterparts. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act should be reauthorized and adequately funded. Farm Bureau also supports other initiatives, such as long-distance learning, to strengthen the foundation of rural educational systems. Farm Bureau is working in collaboration with national educational organizations to assure that rural communities are accounted for.
Rural Infrastructure - Rural communities face significant challenges in handling their infrastructure needs and adapting to new technologies. Maintaining essential infrastructure, like roads, utilities, waterways, and competitive rail systems, is critical. Broadband – Broadband Internet access must be extended to rural areas. Farm Bureau also supports the Universal Service Fund to assist in providing affordable communication services.
Health Care - More doctors and medical facilities are needed to serve residents of rural America. Farm Bureau supports initiatives, including telemedicine, to provide better access to medical professionals and facilities in rural areas.