shares views on rural Idaho
Express Staff Writer
to breaking out of rural Idaho’s economic doldrums must come from
individual communities, Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, said.
can’t just be the same as you used to be," he said.
didn’t attend the Andrus Center for Public Policy’s rural Idaho
conference in Caldwell last week, but, as a legislator, he wrestles with
potential solutions to rural Idaho’s decline on a regular basis.
the keys to helping rural Idaho overcome this transitional time, is for
the state legislature to allow local taxation, Stennett said.
we as a Legislature need to do is allow for funding mechanisms, home rule,
so communities can fund the projects they need to," he said.
pointed out, "local control ends at the Boise Capitol steps,"
for many of the state’s political leaders.
rule has proven itself all over the country. You just have to trust local
people to make good decisions and tax themselves based on their unique
also said the commercialization of agriculture, including moves to
concentrated dairy and hog farm operations, is dealing a heavy blow to
small, rural farmers and ranchers.
industrialization and this concentration of power has killed rural
Idaho," he said. "If we are really going to create a sustainable
food system, long-term, we have got to forge a stronger connection between
farmers and consumers. When people know where their food comes from, they’ll
pay more for it, and they’ll support rural Idaho farmers and
said Idaho’s small number of organic farmers have established a model
that seems to work.
Fairfield, two cities in Stennett’s legislative district, are also
moving in the right direction, he said.
acknowledged that it is a bedroom community between two resorts, Sun
Valley and Craters of the Moon National Monument, and is developing plans
to take advantage of that, he said.
A group of
farmers in Fairfield is working to develop an industrial kitchen to
process and sell sustainable crops, so they "won’t be at the whim
of the market."
need to encourage education among producers and consumers and do whatever
we can, lead collaborative processes," he said. "We need to get
people talking about what they want their communities to look like."