8 Rural and Small Town Trends for 2017
Becky McCray, Small Business Trends
A few trends for rural and small towns for 2017:
Three of CFFP’s core guiding principles are rural community resilience, social equity, and family wage job creation. Understanding business trends in the rural communities where we engage is crucial in realizing these goals and making sure that rural communities do not get left behind. The trends listed above point to an expansion of markets for local and differentiated foods, which is encouraging for the investments we’re pursuing.
"Rest break, bonus pay still disputed in Washington"
Dan Wheat, Capital Press
While we gradually become familiar with the world of production through Ecotrust’s Market Research, there is another parallel universe we must get to know: that of the laborer. This article highlights the conflicting and sometimes contradictory issues faced by farm workers as they advocate for living wage and safe working conditions.
Many farm workers are paid by piece rate (quantity harvested) rather than by hourly rate. While legal precedent has established paid rest regardless of wage type, Washington State is still ambiguous whether or not piece rate farm workers should be paid minimum wage during breaks. For this reason, hourly wages and planned bonuses are easier to regulate, but some farmworkers prefer piece rate – fast workers can often make more through piece rate than hourly rate wages. Both sides recognize a need for education and compromise on the part of both stakeholders, but the outcome is still unclear.
Site link: USDA New Farmers
A declining agricultural workforce is evidence of lack of profitability in the sector, resulting in social inequity and a lack of family wage jobs among farmers. The resilience of rural communities can be greatly impacted by investments and policy change that support new farmers.
The majority of farmers in the United States are near or past age of retirement, and there are no new farmers to fill their shoes. The number of beginning farmers decreased by 20% from 2007 to 2012 (USDA Census of Agriculture). Local programs in the PNW have provided training, technical assistance, and incubator programs to beginning farmers for years. The USDA has launched an site for new farmers – with particular focus on youth and women – that walks through expectations, stories from other new farmers, planning, resources, and making connections.
As part of its own research, CFFP regularly illuminates educative research, media, and resources related to our work. This page contains public versions of our synopses.