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Agriculture needs the Grange to remain vital and relevant

By Jennifer Dugent, National Grange Press Release

  NOVEMBER 16, 2009 --

Frank Fear, Michigan State University Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, told an audience gathered for the National Grange's 143 rd Convention Host Banquet in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, that agriculture and rural America need the Grange in order to remain vital and relevant during these days of budget cuts and rearranged government priorities.

Dr. Fear revealed that a 44% budget cut is forcing the dismantling of extension service at Michigan State University. "When the University President called, I at first thought he said four-percent or even 14%, but, no, it was 44%," Fear stated. He explained that the extension service simply could not be sustained under that drastic of a budget cut. He did not blame anyone for the cuts, pointing out that the state of Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate and that one of eight Michigan residents has needed food bank assistance at one time or another. But given the rearrangement of government priorities, "Will rural America be left behind?" he questioned.

As the advocacy organization for Agriculture and rural America, the Grange has an important role to play in keeping agriculture and rural America vital parts of our society. The Grange's commitment to developing responsible leaders, its grassroots presence and policy development, and its non-partisanship are all "intelligent, timely, and relevant" attributes. "We need the Grange," he declared. The Grange can make sure that rural America is not left out when priorities are being set.

Dr. Fear harkened back to his days growing up on a farm in western New York. He spoke of how, because of land-grant colleges, he was able to get the education that his parents were not able to obtain. He also spoke of the important role the Grange played in protecting and nurturing rural America. The land-grant college system established in 1855 and the Grange established in 1867 are "tied together and dedicated to rural America and its people," he stated. "We inherited the legacy. Now it is our responsibility to sustain it," he concluded.

The National Grange is the nation's oldest general farm and rural public interest organization. Originally founded in 1867, today the Grange represents nearly 200,000 grassroots Grange members affiliated with 2,700 local, county and state Grange chapters located in 40 states. Grange members provide service to agriculture and rural communities on a wide variety of issues, including economic development, education, family endeavors, and legislation designed to assure a strong and viable rural America.



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