Tuesday, April 12, 2016

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Rural America a Solid Business Investment, Iowa Farm Bureau President Says

WASHINGTON - Iowa Farm Bureau President and American Farm Bureau Federation Board Member Craig Hill addressed the importance of boosting rural economies in testimony before a Senate subcommittee today.
Vibrant rural economies play a critical role in helping farmers and ranchers offset the challenges of today's farm economy since "the vast majority of farm families rely on off farm income to diversify risk and keep the family economically viable," Hill said. "With lower commodity prices farmers will have to find new and innovative ways to remain profitable and continue farming in future years."
Iowa Farm Bureau has been active in developing and promoting rural businesses through its Renew Rural Iowa program, which provides education, mentorship opportunities and funding for rural business startups. According to Hill, "This investment by the Iowa Farm Bureau has grown over the years to a total of $32 million invested across 13 companies making an impact in rural Iowa."
AFBF's Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge also highlights innovative rural businesses across the country, and for the last two years, the competition winners hailed from Iowa.
Hill emphasized the importance of Agriculture Department programs in helping rural communities, and noted ways USDA can make the programs more accessible.
"While USDA has been a great partner for our rural businesses, the complexity of the application process and length of time for approval are a hindrance to business development and harm the viability of the programs," Hill said. To that end, AFBF is analyzing data from a recent survey it conducted to evaluate USDA programs.
"Through the efforts of organizations like the Farm Bureau and USDA Rural Development, we can continue to improve the health and vitality of rural America," Hill said.

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