Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents; Illustrations

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC), in Lincoln, Nebraska, conceived of and supported the Roots of Change project with three primary goals in sight: to assist groups in applying for grants and communicating with interested parties; to encourage entrepreneurs to start value-added businesses; and to...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

In 1996 Kimball-area producer JoAnn Mueller was looking for help in starting up a hay-marketing cooperative that would provide economic opportunities for people in western Nebraska. Little did she realize that she would have to travel to North Dakota...

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1. Grow Nebraska

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pp. 6-10

The success of value-added products depends on the ability of communities or businesses in rural areas to develop markets for entrepreneurs who may or may not be physically located near a sufficient customer base. Since 1995 the Holbrook-based Grassroots Resources Opportunities for Winners—or grow Nebraska—...

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2. Shepherd’s Dairy

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pp. 11-16

One of the country’s premier sheep dairies first opened because its owners had a simple desire to supplement the family income. Kim and Larry Curtis of Anselmo decided to raise sheep to provide extra money. Little did they know that in ten years their small operation would become Shepherd’s Dairy, one of central...

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3. Wolf Den Market

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pp. 17-21

In 1997 the only grocery store in Arthur, Nebraska, closed its doors, leaving residents in this ranching community with the prospect of a seventy-five-mile round-trip to Ogallala every time they needed groceries. So when a cooperative grocery store opened for business in Arthur three years later, it had no shortage of dedicated...

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4. Year-Round Market Cooperative

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pp. 22-26

John Ellis, owner of Libby Creek Farms west of York, tested these waters by developing a thirty-member marketing cooperative that sold products through grocery markets and gift stores as well as at farmers’ markets and convenience stores. He also established a presence for the cooperative’s product line in Lincoln’s...

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5. Ash Hollow Market

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pp. 27-31

When the town’s only grocery store burned to the ground in November 2000, the residents of Lewellen lost an important piece of their community. The store’s owners had purchased the Lewellen Market just a year earlier. After dividing the insurance proceeds from the fire with the previous owners, they were unable...

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6. St. James Marketplace

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pp. 32-35

St. James is an old northeast Nebraska river settlement. It was established in 1856 just a short distance from the bend in the Missouri River that separates Nebraska from South Dakota, and Nebraska from Iowa a few miles downriver. The town is located in a scenic area of hillsides, lush valleys, and breathtaking views...

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7. Small Farms Cooperative

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pp. 36-39

A cooperative that consisted of eight families in 1999 now represents dozens of family farms across Nebraska thanks to its success marketing hormone-free cattle. Small Farms Cooperative members produce and sell grain-fed beef to European markets. After an opportune discussion in 2001, the cooperative now has...

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8. Nebraska Farmers Choice

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pp. 40-43

Incorporated in 2000, Nebraska Farmers Choice was founded on the belief that adding more value to the product and controlling its marketing and distribution were critical to the survival of family farms. While the average producer already does a great deal of value adding (for example, by feeding corn and soybean meal...

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9. North Star Neighbors

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pp. 44-47

In a picturesque central Nebraska farm community called North Star, a half-dozen families are tending the emergence of a natural meats cooperative known as North Star Neighbors. The cooperative’s simple goal is to make more money from their agricultural produce using methods that protect the environment. North Star...

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10. Family Quality Pork

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pp. 48-52

That same year members of the Family Quality Pork cooperative began raising funds for a processing plant and initiated a study authorized by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA). A pork equity task force studied the options of packer ownership of the pork product and producer-owned processing....

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11. Prairie Farms Marketing Alliance

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pp. 53-55

The changing American diet, whether prompted by health concerns or demographic trends, is bringing new and diverse opportunities to American agricultural producers. Goat meat, for example, is a popular food source among many new immigrant populations. Lower in cholesterol, fat, and calories than chicken,...

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12. Nebraska Sandhills Yellow Perch Cooperative

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pp. 56-61

The inhabitants of Nebraska’s Sandhills region are an innovative bunch. They take what most people see as a problem and turn it into an opportunity. Consistently low cattle prices and high taxes have now forced this innovative group to produce an unlikely cash crop: yellow perch. Native to freshwater lakes, yellow perch...

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13. Southeast Nebraska Alternative Crops Association Cooperative

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pp. 62-67

This isn’t a picture of Napa Valley but of the rolling hills northeast of Nebraska City, Nebraska. It is a scene that is becoming more and more familiar to Nebraskans as the state continues to rapidly develop a grape and wine industry, taking advantage of growing conditions that many experts compare favorably to traditional...

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14. Nebraska Farmers’ Market Association

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pp. 68-74

Farmers’ markets had many homes in Lincoln until 1986, when one finally settled in the city’s historic Haymarket district. The location was particularly appropriate because the Haymarket has been home to many wholesale and retail food businesses over the years....

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15. Rural Ranchers

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pp. 75-79

Rural Ranchers is a youth program that goes beyond identifying the struggles facing young people today by teaching students to take responsibility when facing life’s challenges. According to sixth grade teacher Dave Berens of Abraham Lincoln School in Hastings, Rural Ranchers is the successful marriage of...

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16. Kearney Area Ag Producers Alliance

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pp. 80-84

The experience of the Kearney Area Ag Producers Alliance (KAAPA) in developing value-added opportunities demonstrates that when the time isn’t right for one project, another may be waiting in the wings, ready to take flight....

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17. Flatwater Biologics

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pp. 85-87

Among the several initiatives aimed at building new ethanol plants in Nebraska in 2002 was Flatwater Biologics LLC. Doug Samp, a telephone company executive from Benkelman, Nebraska, got the idea of opening an ethanol plant from a cattle feedlot operator. Samp thought he could finance the project with venture capital...

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18. Ethanol Power Partners

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pp. 88-89

In January 2002 a group of producers from the Imperial area, encouraged by new state incentives, considered investing in a local ethanol plant. Ethanol Power Partners raised more than $24,000 in contributions primarily from producers but also from local businesses. With an additional $10,000 grant from the Nebraska...

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19. Oregon Trails Ethanol Coalition

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pp. 90-92

Ninety-two investors privately raised $976,000 to help make the Oregon Trails Ethanol Coalition (OTEC) a reality. In uncertain economic times, their efforts are a healthy testament to the resolve of these Thayer County–area farmers to find added income for their corn commodity. But even before the investors raised...

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20. NC Organic

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pp. 93-97

Today the farmers’ cooperative, NC , is a seed company with years of research, marketing, and solid experience behind its name. It is the fifth largest seed corn company in Nebraska and the tenth largest in the United States. Yet once again this farmerowned cooperative is going out on a limb to see if it can’t accom...

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21. Bloomfield Soy Products

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pp. 98-101

During the fall of 2000 soybean farmers in the Bloomfield area were determined to pull themselves out of the downward spiral of commodity pricing. Duane Schlote remembers sitting in a line at the local elevator, waiting to unload a good harvest, knowing that he wouldn’t see a good profit from his product.

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22. Partners Hay Marketing Cooperative

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pp. 102-106

Having doubled its membership tally since its inception in April 1999, Partners Hay Marketing Cooperative of Kimball is quickly establishing itself as an essential marketing tool for western Nebraska hay producers. The cooperative provides members with hay market price discovery and the assurance that it will obtain

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23. Heartland Natural Fibers

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pp. 107-110

From the stacks of freshly washed wool to the various spinning wheels in the store, Heartland Natural Fibers of Arlington was a living, breathing embodiment of a cooperative dedicated to adding value to its product while building clientele through product marketing, school networking, and community classes....

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24. Niobrara Valley Wood Products

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pp. 111-114

From a stand of trees and logging to a sawmill and crafting finished wood products, Niobrara Valley Wood Products has made quite a journey in little more than a decade. “They have come a long, long way,” said Gene Lehnert, program coordinator for the North Central Resource Conservation and Development Council...

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25. Ritz’s Restaurant

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pp. 115-118

With a friendly atmosphere and great customer service, Ritz’s Restaurant may appear to be like any other small town restaurant, but this Ord eatery is unique because its owners, Eric and Lara, raise all of the beef and chicken that is served in the restaurant....

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26. Uncle Buck’s Lodge

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pp. 119-123

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the north-central Nebraska region was known as a hunter’s paradise to those searching for game birds for their customers in Chicago. “Great-grandfather came to this country at the turn of the century as a market hunter, hunting prairie chicken and grouse,” explained...

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27. Alternative, Sustainable Crops

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pp. 124-127

Located one and a half miles northwest of St. Edward, the 160-acre farm of Tom and Deb Larson is something of an anomaly. Their modest-sized operation isn’t considered big enough by today’s standards of farming, but instead of looking at yields and production based on current popular standards, the Larsons have...

Resource Information

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pp. 128-139

Image Plates

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pp. 143-148