Hubbard County joins rural advocacy organization

Hubbard County becomes the 35th county to join the only state organization that advocates specifically for rural county concerns.

The Hubbard County Board voted Tuesday to join Minnesota Rural Counties (MRC), an organization that advocates specifically for rural county concerns at the state Legislature.

Dan Larson extolled the virtues of MRC at a board work session earlier this month. Established in 1997, MRC is within the Association of Minnesota Counties. It currently has 34 members, including Becker, Mahnomen, Todd and Wadena counties. Each member has a delegate on the MRC board.

“As anybody knows, any issue that comes down the hallways of the state Capitol these days is as likely to split rural as they are along party lines. The rural message is getting lost,” Larson said.

Rural culture and economy – farming, ranching, timber – was more deeply understood prior to the mid-1990s, he said.

“We make the case that agriculture and timber are huge contributors to the state economy and the culture. We always make that distinction,” Larson continued.


During the 2020 legislative session, MRC’s priorities were funding for roads, bridges, critical mental health needs and rural broadband, among other issues.

Energy is another MRC initiative, Larson said, with MRC applauding the foresight of developing a long-range, coordinated plan through the Clean Energy First proposal that recognizes reliability, affordability and flexibility are the three most important components to any new plan, and that any new plan must address critical transmission bottlenecks.

Wind power is stalled right now, he said, because they lack the transmission lines to power plants.

“The message is, you can make a difference if you have a coordinated and ready response. This organization has been in existence for 23 years. We have great leadership and a great communications network,” Larson said, inviting Hubbard County to join.

The membership fee is based on the county’s population. Larson said, with a population of 21,000, Hubbard County’s membership rate would be $2,300.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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