WKKF News Archive February 2005

President’s Proposed Budget Cuts at the Heart of Rural America

President’s Proposed Budget Cuts at the Heart of Rural AmericaThe Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, and other rural development programs are on the chopping block in the budget proposed by President Bush today, raising questions about the future of rural America.

PRESS RELEASE

NEWS from the Center for Rural Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs
Phone: (402) 687-2100
Email: jonb@cfra.org

February 7, 2005

President’s Proposed Budget Cuts at the Heart of Rural America

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, and other rural development programs are on the chopping block in the budget proposed by President Bush today, raising questions about the future of rural America.

“The President’s budget would doom many rural Americans and many rural communities to permanent status as members of America’s underclass.” according to Jon Bailey, director of the Rural Research and Analysis Program at the Center for Rural Affairs, a non-profit rural advocacy group.

The new ‘Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative’ proposal actually weakens rural communities, says Bailey. "It would kill worthwhile programs and remove a third of the funding they provide for economic and community development.”

Center researchers contend the elimination of the CDBG and other programs will make it more difficult for rural communities to provide the necessary infrastructure needed for their future viability.

"The drastic cuts to programs that encourage the development of small businesses and rural housing will not allow low- and moderate-income rural Americans to become part of President Bush’s ‘Ownership Society," says Bailey.

The President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2006 federal budget slashes funding for the programs that offer a future to Rural Economic Development.

Cuts Striking Rural America Hardest

A nearly 10% cut is proposed for The Department of Agriculture, and an 11.5% cut is proposed for Department of Housing and Urban Development. The USDA and HUD are two federal agencies with significant programs devoted to rural economic and community development. They are the targets of the largest reductions in discretionary spending. 

Abandoning Rural Development

The President’s budget is also the beginning of the abandonment of the federal role in rural development. Cash-strapped local and state governments will have an even more difficult time meeting crucial needs for rural economic and community development. The diminishing of this endangered financial environment does not promote the future of rural places.

The following programs are among those being consolidated into the new “Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative” program in the Department of Commerce:

  • Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program (RBEG – USDA)
  • Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program (RBOG – USDA)
  • Enterprise Zone/Enterprise Community Program (USDA)
  • Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG – HUD)
  • Rural Housing and Economic Development Program (HUD)

Limits on Farm Payment Program

The Center lauded the President’s proposal to tighten payments to mega farms, says Executive Director, Chuck Hassebrook. “The single most effective way to strengthen family farms is to stop subsidizing mega farms to drive smaller farms out of business.” 

But the Center is calling on the president to go further.  The proposal reduces the payment limit cap for individuals to $250,000 for commodity payments, including all types of marketing loan gains, while removing the three-entity-rule.

"Aggressive payment limitation reform could achieve 3-4 times the savings of the President’s proposal," said Hassebrook, and significantly reduce the need for the damaging cuts in USDA farm and rural programs.

Environmental Programs Ravaged

Bush would take over half the funding from the Conservation Security Program, which rewards environmentally sound farming and ranching and impose a 5% across the board cut in farm program payments, which will hit hard on small- and medium-size farmers.

Where is the Money Going?

The budget proposal lists an increase in discretionary spending of 18 billion dollars.

The Defense budget is up 19 billion dollars. The Department of Commerce is being offered a nearly 50% increase in funding. And the legislative branch is to receive a 13.1% increase in its budget.

“The President’s Budget devastates rural communities," said Bailey.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.


High Rocks Teaches Leadership, Develops Confidence in Teens Girls

A group of 20 ninth through twelfth grade students in southeastern West Virginia now have a greater appreciation, and more developed skills, for math, art, writing, engineering and design, thanks to High Rock’s “Camp Steele,” a ten-day project-oriented academic summer camp for high school girls.

The girls spent several days at the High Rocks campground and worked on a project –nicknamed “The Chair Challenge” – that required the girls to work in groups of two or three to create a chair out of cardboard that would support at least 170 pounds, that was a least 12 inches off the ground and was beautiful enough to be considered a work of art.

To prepare for the project, the girls took classes in math, art and philosophy that explored ideas about geometry, design and beauty. They also participated in daily building “labs” to help spark creativity and practice engineering skills. The project, with support from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, was designed to teach the girls leadership as they developed personal confidence and academic skills, including critical thinking, planning and problem solving.

The chairs are now part of a traveling exhibit on display throughout the year at various locations in West Virginia, including the West Virginia Women and Creativity Conference and the Covenant House Gallery in Charleston, W. Va. The chairs also have been featured in the Charleston Daily Mail.

For more information about High Rocks and its programs, visit www.highrocks.org.


Learning Clusters Prove Successful for Entrepreneurial Center

The Shoals Entrepreneurial Center (SEC) has seen tremendous results in its Commercial Culinary Center (SCCC), a shared-use commercial kitchen, after participating in a food sector learning cluster sponsored by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

The learning cluster provided SCCC the opportunity to gather useful information about successful operations of Farmers’ Market’s and Farm-to-Cafeteria initiatives, and motivated the SCCC to implement its plan of a Farmers’ Market, ultimately resulting in a substantial increase in sales for SCCC’s clients. The learning cluster also assisted the SCCC in gaining support from the Alabama Department of Agriculture, and members of the learning clusters provided the SCCC with ideas for the launching of its new e-commerce Web site. “I have found that my experience with the learning clusters has been most beneficial. The networking is has provided is beyond my expectation,” said Sherry Campbell-Foster, food service administrator for the SCCC. The food sector learning clusters, with support from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, convenes rural and urban micro-enterprise development organizations to discuss innovative practices, increasing market access and policy issues.

For more information about the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and its learning clusters, visit www.microenterpriseworks.org.


W.K. Kellogg Foundation Announces Rural Entrepreneurship Development Systems for Rural America Finalists

BATTLE CREEK, Michigan, February 8, 2005 — The W.K. Kellogg Foundation today announced the six finalists to receive a visit from the Foundation to discuss their ideas regarding the establishment of Rural Entrepreneurship Partnerships to catalyze economic development. They are in the final round of a process, which started with a Request for Proposals from the Corporation for Enterprise Development and will conclude when final grant decisions are made in a few months. This $8 million grant program is designed to encourage the advancement of rural regional entrepreneurship development systems, as part of a special initiative to commemorate the Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary (1930-2005).

The six finalists are:

  • Northern New Mexico Entrepreneurship Development System, serving Northern New Mexico counties, pueblos, and tribes. 
  • Connecting Oregon for Rural Entrepreneurship Collaborative, serving Lake County, Lincoln County, Northeast, Southwest, and North Central Oregon. 
  • Oweesta Collaborative, serving Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations of South Dakota (Lakota Sioux), and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe). 
  • Home Town Competitiveness Collaborative, serving 15 counties in Nebraska and the Winnebago, Omaha, and Santee Sioux Indian reservations. 
  • Advantage Valley Entrepreneurship Development System Collaborative, serving eight counties in West Virginia, Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky, and Lawrence county in Ohio. 
  • North Carolina's Rural Outreach Collaborative, serving 85 rural counties of North Carolina, including seven rural Indian Tribes.

The collaboratives selected will receive grants of up to $2 million each to promote entrepreneurial activity in their region, produce entrepreneurial models for other communities, leverage significant investment, and stimulate national and state interest in rural entrepreneurship policies and strategies.  More than 180 groups responded to a Request for Proposals issued by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, DC-based organization.

The Request for Proposals required that applicants be collaborations of groups and entities capable of integrating policy, education, training, technical assistance, financing, networks, culture, and social entrepreneurship strategies – all necessary to successfully organize and lead a rural entrepreneurship development system for their region.

“The Foundation’s Food Systems and Rural Development programming area helps local people capitalize on their strengths and develop new networks and partnerships to restore the vision and economic vigor of rural communities. By requiring collaboration, we hope the process and the final awards will produce models that will show how a region’s often-limited resources can be brought together, through collaboration, to stimulate and encourage entrepreneurship,” says Caroline Carpenter, Kellogg Foundation Program Director for Rural Development.

More detailed information about rural regional entrepreneurship development systems and the process used to select grantees can be found at www.wkkf.org/ruralentrepreneurs.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is funding this project as part of a special initiative to commemorate its 75th Anniversary (1930-2005). Grants made during the 75th celebration will support traditional areas of emphasis – health, food systems and rural development, youth and education, philanthropy and volunteerism – as well as new opportunities that build on the Foundation’s current programming.  Each of these efforts will broadly reflect the Foundation’s historical commitment to “help people help themselves.”  Through their innovation and potential impact on society, they show special promise for continuing the Foundation’s legacy. For more information about the Foundation and its programs visit its Web site at www.wkkf.org.


Climate Change May Affect Farming

"It will be important to devise more resilient agricultural production systems that can absorb and survive more variability," argues Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. At his own family farm in North Dakota, Kirschenmann has struggled with two years of abnormal weather that nearly eliminated one crop and devastated another. Diversified farms will cope better with drought, increased pests, and a range of other climate-related jolts. And they will tend to be less reliant on fertilizers and pesticides, and the fossil fuel inputs they require. Climate change might also be the best argument for preserving local crop varieties around the world, so that plant breeders can draw from as wide a palette as possible when trying to develop plants that can cope with more frequent drought or new pests.

For abstract of article and link to purchase full PDF version, please see:
http://www.worldwatch.org/press/news/2005/02/03/

June 20, 2005

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