Biggest race in rural America Tuesday was in Nebraska • Why people moved in to rural Minnesota • Senators push Farm Bill • Deere reports record profits
The Washington Post called state Sen. Deb Fischer’s win in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Nebraska a “big upset.” It was certainly the biggest election in rural America on Tuesday.
Fischer will run against former governor and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey for the seat being left by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat.
She won against Attorney General Jon Bruning, who was the overwhelming favorite. The Omaha World-Herald said Fischer ran a “stealth campaign.” She raised only $440,000 opposed to Brunings $3.6 million.
In fact, the main conflict in the race was between State Treasurer Don Stenberg and Bruning. Stenberg got some support from Tea Party activists. Meanwhile, the anti-tax group Club for Growth ran $725,000 worth of ads criticizing Bruning.
Fischer, however, received the endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Fischer is a rancher.
• Minnesota Public Radio asked people why they moved to rural Minnesota. These are worth a read. Here are some answers:
Meeting people when I first moved here was very difficult. A lot of people have lived here their whole lives and have established friendships, so breaking in to that was difficult. But the friends I have made are wonderful. And the easy access to nature and outdoor activities is nice. We have a house on two acres and it’s nice to have that kind of space.
-Erica Ellis, moved to Bemidji 14 years ago
My community is nothing like I expected and everything that I had hoped. Growing up in a huge city like Philadelphia, I had no idea what to expect from a small (REALLY small) town. What I have found is that it is one of the most artistically creative places I have ever been. To be able to participate in a molten iron pour or attend a barn dance or string quartet performance with your neighbors is so inspiring. I have been more artistically energized here in this town of 750 than any of the “big cities” I have lived in. People seem actually more open-minded than in the metropolitan areas in which I have lived. Since you know everyone, suffering is more real, as is joy.
-Adrienne Sweeney, moved to Lanesboro 10 years ago
I am moving back to the cities. The decision is partially social and partially financial. I cannot sustain myself financially (the cost of living is not really that much different moving to a rural area. My rent is a lot less, but heat is more (I have a larger residence), and all the other bills stay the same). Rural communities don’t have the same type of salary ranges as cities for nonprofit workers (not just in the arts), so as a single person, I just can’t justify staying here for the job. I am also missing the creative outlets that I had in the city, and want to get back to pursuing my own creative work. I will be returning to the cities in June.
-Cynthia French, moved to Little Falls 16 months ago
• Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, contends that female farmworkers in the U.S. are sexually harassed and assaulted, largely because their immigration status makes it difficult for them to call police.
“Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: Sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworker women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work,” said the report.
There are an estimated 630,000 female migrant farm workers in the country.
• Deere & Co. posted a 17 percent rise in second quarter profits and boosted its outlook for the rest of the year.
The company predicted record global demand for its tractors, harvestors and seeders.
Much of Deere’s optimism is based on predictions that U.S. growers will produce a record corn crop this year of 14.8 billion bushels.
• A bipartisan group of farm state senators pressed their leaders to move ahead with the Farm Bill. The Des Moines Register reports:
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa joined a group of 42 other senators in a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that urged the pair to bring the farm bill to an open debate on the Senate floor. A Democratic aide said Reid hopes to act on the farm bill in June.
“We believe there is strong support in the full Senate to consider the bill in a fair and open manner that allows senators the opportunity to offer amendments,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers said in a letter sent on Tuesday.
“We need to act soon to complete a farm bill in 2012 and provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and other stakeholders, and all Americans,” they said.
• Lisa Song at InsideClimate News finds that new federal rules on fracking look good in comparison to state regulation only because the state rules are so weak.
The rules would apply only to drilling on public lands. They are now open for public comment.
• Here’s another report describing the recent Rural Futures Conference at the University of Nebraska:
Gov. Dave Heineman and others said leadership in rural communities is key. “We know communities in Nebraska that have great leaders, and they’re going to move their communities forward no matter how small they are.”
A few of those young leaders participated in a panel discussion and wove their own experiences of returning to their Nebraska roots after leaving them for a time.
Anne Trumble, executive director of Emerging Terrain in Omaha, remembers the mantra when she moved from her family farm to UNL. “Oh, you’ve got to get out of here, you’ve got to move away. And I did that,” she said.
Fifteen years later, in New York City, “it just dawned on me É they were wrong. It was hard for me to find a place there,” Trumble said. She moved back to Nebraska.
Others addressed that theme, too — that finding one’s place in the world is leading more and more natives of rural America back to their roots.
Caleb Pollard, executive director of Valley County Economic Development in Ord, said young people want to “live in places where they can have meaning and purpose,” and rural America can offer that.
“I have a very strong sense of place. I appreciate where I came from,” said Amanda Crook, a Nebraska City native who’s now a graduate assistant at UNL. Echoing Pollard’s comments, she said rural America can be a place where “people find where their strengths and their passions meet.”
• S.M. True, Jr., the former Texas Farm Bureau president, died this week in an accident at his farm near Plainview. He was 88 years old.
True was working on his tractor when the accident happened.
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