About IATP

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

Founded in 1986, IATP is rooted in the family farm movement. With offices in Minneapolis and Geneva, IATP works on making domestic and global agricultural policy more sustainable for everyone.

IATP Web sites

About Amy Stratton

Amy StrattonAmy Stratton is the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Rural Communities Organizer. She works to find viable solutions to economic and environmental challenges rural communities face. "In the Field" is Amy's blog from her travels throughout the Midwest.

For more, visit IATP Rural Communities.


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Monday, April 07, 2008

We're growing at Rural Communities

Not only is it spring and time for crops to grow, but the Rural Communities Program at IATP is also growing.  Welcome Garat and Christopher!

Garat Ibrahim, Rural Somali Organizer, will build connections among rural Somali communities in the upper midwest and work toward strategies for their long-term success in this region. IATP's newest rural organizer, Christopher Mosel, will work with youth in Midwest communities and assist with rural community organizing.

Watch for future blog posts from our new Rural Communities staff.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Taking Leave...

I am taking a short leave from my work at IATP.  During this time, I have invited the staff at our Rural Communities program to provide guest contributions if they desire.

We'll connect again in a few months. May your New Year be filled with exciting entrepreneurial ideas and revitalized rural communities. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hometown success

I was talking with a friend from my rural hometown the other day.  We conversed about who was still there and what they were doing in our small town.  Most of our friends have moved away, including the both of us.  Why is there still a stigma that says to be successful you must leave your small rural town in search of a better life? 

The town of Brookfield, Missouri decided that telling youth to move away and be successful did nothing to support their town. They chose instead to connect with the high school students to find out what they wanted from their community. And at their graduation they each received a gift: a mailbox with their name on it and a letter reminding them that Brookfield will always be their home.  Read more.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What's "natural" to you? Voice your comments to USDA.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Services is taking comments on the voluntary label "naturally raised."  You can find more information on the USDA AMS News Release or at the Federal Register.  Comments must be submitted to USDA by January 28th for consideration. 

Recently, other voluntary labels, such as antibotic free, have come under scruntiny.  USDA revoked Tyson's use of the claim "antibiotic free" based on definiations of specific feed additive.  'Organic' has federal regulations, 'antibotic free' has specific definitions, and now, is your chance to comment on the development of a "naturally rasied" definition at the federal level.

Link to Federal Register Notice

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Yesterday at E3, an energy conference hosted by the University of Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Xcel Energy President Dick Kelly, Eileen Claussen and numerous other renewable energy experts and civic leaders, I heard similar messages about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because we are experiencing global warming.

At the global scale, we are experiencing hot extremes, cyclones, droughts and abrupt and possibly irreversable conditions though global warming, Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change reported. Over 170 nations have agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by signing the Kyoto Protocol. The agreement expires in 2012 and negotiations to update the treaty are beginning. The United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. 

Claussen believes businesses will be a major player in the next step toward addressing global warming.  Businesses realize that greenhouse gas reduction policy will soon be created and it will impact them. They want a seat at the table. 

Additionally, many businesses recognize that reducing emissions is good for business, according to Xcel President Dick Kelly. Xcel uses electricity from solar, wind, hydro, biomass, nuclear and coal sources for their customers.  Xcel has over 23,000 Minnesotans signed on as Wind Source customers, demonstrating the public's committment to renewable energy. They are expanding their renewable sources by adding a wind farm near Austin, MN too. 

Senator Kloubchar noted that little is being done on a federal level to address greenhouse gas emissions, however, states are making bold decisions and taking action (see States Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets). Senator Klobuchar noted that 31 states are in discussions about creating regional carbon registries and trading systems.

It's refreshing to see civic leaders, businesses and organizations all recognize the imminent need to make changes in our nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More news from the Summit, youth seek rural life

Rural youth in attendance at the Rural Youth Summit and 2007 National Summit on Agriculture and Rural Life talk about their desires to live and work in rural communities in a Brownfield Network audio piece.  Many are looking for a way to return to, or move to, rural areas to begin farming, but face a lack of access to capitol and high land prices. 

At the Summit, youth discussed these and other challenges, and they worked together to identify sustainable solutions for youth to create a life and a living in rural communities. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Presidential Candidates Address Rural Youth Summit

Presidential Candidates Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Cox addressed Rural Youth Summit and 2007 National Summit on Agriculture and Rural Life participants on Saturday. They were asked to address rural issues and how they, as President, will strengthen rural communities. This discussion ranged from healthcare to job creation,farming to country of origin labeling and everything in between. You can read more at Daily Yonder, The Ames Tribune or My Main Street News.Rural_youth_summit_064

The day before the Presidential candidates arrived, the conference focused on youth concerns in rural areas. Participants discussed how to create a youth-friendly climate in rural areas and discussed successes and challenges of rural living. Andy Larson, an Iowa State University graduate student, gave the opening talk and spoke of growing up on a rural Illnois dairy farm. He plans to go back to his home town after college. He talked about the sense of community he grew up in, long standing relationships and the challenges of being a young professional and making plans to move back. He left youth with the message that you can move forward by going back. More information and the program agenda can be found at Rural Youth Summit.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What are you doing October 2nd?

What are you doing October 2nd?  That's the question individuals, farmers and groups who organized a mass candlelight vigil to support Indian farmers are asking you.  Farmers in India feed a large population, yet often cannot provide meals to their own families due to enormous debts. This crisis has led to farmer suicides in many regions of India

You can voice your support for farmers and find more information at Our Farmers, Our Food - Indian Agriculture.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rural Opportunities - just open your computer and connect

These days more and more people are turning to the Internet for work, social activities and starting new businesses.  The Internet levels the playing field so to speak.  People living on a western short grass prairie near a town of 300 have access to the same web-based information as a Wall Street Investor from the Big Apple, thereby opening opportunities for folks everywhere. 

Internet access is especially important to rural youth.  They use it as a tool for work and play; it's truly become a necessity for many folks.  Ever Young Entrepreneurs, a Boston Globe article, highlights stories of young folks creating business opportunities using their computer.

To keep web-based information open to all, rural places need broadband access.  A memo Rural Broadband Internet Use (2/06), reports that only 24 percent of rural adults have high-speed Internet access while 39 percent of urban/suburban adults have this access. This disparity adds to the challenges rural people face, and must be resolved as rural development polices and laws are created.

Related Links:

Rural Broadband Coalition

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees

The US Rural Broadband Crisis

Rural U.S.: Doomed to Dial-up?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Local politics for bigger change

One can find politics everywhere: the county board, state legislature, Presidential races and even the  local church council.  In a Common Dreams article, Russell Mokhiber writes about using local politics and local civic engagement as part of change on a larger scale. 

Morgan County USA is a great example of one county using the web as a tool to organize, share resources, and increase engagement in a local area.  As Mr. Mokhiber writes, if every county did something similar the country would improve.