Center for Rural Affairs

Center for Rural Affairs

Tyler Vacha grew up on a farm in Nebraska, and he learned a lot of valuable lessons there. In a recent essay for the Center for Rural Affairs, Tyler wondered if the important lessons he picked up would be foreign to children of the twenty-first century.

Tyler wrote that he’s recently become aware that he’d taken his experiences on the farm for granted. How, he wondered, will he teach his kids to be responsible without asking them to feed and water livestock?

The Center for Rural Affairs is celebrating the “Dog Days” of summer with a canine-focused fundraiser. Send a photo of your pup to, and the Center will feature the picture on their website and social media. The CFRA is hoping to raise $10,000 by the end of August.

Elisha Smith of the Center for Rural Affairs recently attended the Midwest Farm to School Conference and brought back a report.

Native grasslands are being cultivated into cropland faster than at any time since before the Great Depression, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. Between 2011 and 2012—the most recent years data is available—nearly 400,000 acres of US grassland was converted to cropland. Nebraska topped the list of US states with more than 85 square miles of land being converted from native prairie to farmland in that single year.

Center for Rural Affairs

Over the past six years rural hospitals have been closing at a rate of nearly one per month, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. A hospital closure can be very hard on a rural hospital. But it doesn’t have to be this way, says the CFRA.

The closings have been especially widespread in the 18 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. Those states include Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

The Center for Rural Affairs has announced a new program to promote rural leadership. The announcement was made in conjunction with The University of Nebraska Omaha. It’s called the Virtual Leader Development Program. The initiative hopes to attract those in rural Nebraska who are relatively new to leadership experiences in their work.

ElliotPhotos / Flickr Creative Commons

A movement has been growing across the nation over the past decades—an interest in building an agricultural system that benefits family farms and rural communities. A system that isn’t controlled by large, corporate interests. Nine states have passed laws restricting corporate farming, says the Center for Rural Affairs. Oklahoma has the oldest corporate farming law in the nation, dating back to the state’s inception in 1907.

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Researchers at Princeton University have discovered a disturbing trend. This century is witnessing an increase in mortality of middle-aged white men and women, according to The Center for Rural Affairs. The news comes after decades of progress in white mortality rates.

Center for Rural Affairs

As the holiday season ends and many of us settle back into our routines, we often take a collective sigh of relief. Christmas can be a stressful time for so many of us. It means hectic travel, crowded stores, family squabbles. But John Crabtree at The Center for Rural Affairs recently received a reminder of the importance of the season. Kolt Smith, the six-year-old son of one of John’s colleagues at the Center for Rural Affairs, wrote John an essay.

Remembering the Important Things on a Family Farm

Dec 26, 2015
deanfotos66 / Flickr Creative Commons

Elisha Smith of the Center for Rural Affairs recently moved her family a few miles down the road to the family farm where her husband was born and raised. One thing she looks forward to in the new home is having less. During the moving process it became painfully apparent that the Smith family had way too much unnecessary stuff. Elisha says it’s her quest this holiday season to find ways to buy less materialist items and give from the heart … and support her local rural community.

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The Center for Rural Affairs has long heard complaints from small- and mid-sized farms that the federal crop insurance program unfairly benefits large corporate farms and causes land values to rise. So the Center decided to investigate. Their research determined that subsidized crop insurance indeed has an impact on land values.

In the US, Rural Schools Remain Vital

Oct 13, 2015
John Vachon, FSA photo / Public Domain

The Center for Rural Affairs turned back time this week to one of their favorite posts. The blog entry, dating from the year 2000, was entitled “The Case for Small Schools,” and the essay’s findings are still relevant 15 years later. Some of the important points from the article:

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In the face of growing income inequality on the rural Great Plains, the Center for Rural Affairs has published four ways to address the problem.

First, rural people should be given more opportunities to obtain higher education. Research shows that people with college degrees earn almost 80 percent more per year than degreeless residents.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The average age of American farmers has been climbing for decades, and many say rural towns are at-risk without new blood. There are enough people who want to farm, but there’s trouble connecting beginning farmers and the communities that need them.