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  • The hard truths of trying to 'save' the rural economy | The New York Times

    There are 60 million people, almost one in five Americans, living on farms, in hamlets and in small towns across the landscape. For the last quarter century the story of these places has been one of relentless economic decline. This is, of course, not news to the people who live in rural and small-town America, who have been fighting for years to reverse this decline. But now, the nation’s political class is finally noticing. The election of Donald Trump, powered in no small degree by rural voters, has brought the troubles of small-town America to national attention, with an urgent question: What can be done to revive it?Rural America is getting old. The median age is 43, seven years older than city dwellers. Its productivity, defined as output per worker, is lower than urban America’s. Its families have lower incomes. And its share of the population is shrinking: the United States has grown by 75 million people since 1990, but this has mostly occurred in cities and suburbs. Rural areas have lost some 3 million people. Since the 1990s, problems such as crime and opioid abuse, once associated with urban areas, are increasingly rural phenomena.These days, economic growth bypasses rural economies. In the first four years of the recovery after the 2008 recession, counties with fewer than 100,000 people lost 17,500 businesses, according to the Economic Innovation Group. By contrast, counties with more than 1 million residents added, altogether, 99,000 firms. By 2017, the largest metropolitan areas had almost 10 percent more jobs than they did at the start of the financial crisis. Rural areas still had fewer.

    Post date: Tue, 12/18/2018 - 16:16
  • Pandora's pill bottle: Opioids in rural America | DTN

    Pandora's box was a large jar given to Pandora that contained all of the world's evils. She unleashed it all when she opened the jar. Only hope was left inside the jar.Communities across the country are looking for hopeful approaches to combat what has spilled out of pill bottles: The scourge of opioid addiction that has become the modern-day Pandora's box.Putting the problem back in the jar -- or bottle -- may be impossible.Victims of opioid addiction often appear faceless and nameless in a national tragedy that buries families in stigma.The victims can be any family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker, of any generation, in urban as well as rural America, lost to a crisis still on the rise nationally.DTN is launching this special series for a closer look at the impact of opioid addiction on rural America, how it became such a big problem, and what is being done about opioids.Ultimately, is there still hope left inside Pandora's pill bottle?Rural America is a key battlefront where the crisis is growing. At the same time, the agriculture-based economy continues to struggle and lacks the resources to support needed healthcare infrastructure improvements and growth. Agriculture-based rural America is the center of a perfect opioid storm -- the risk of injury and need for pain relief may be greater while working on farms than in any other occupation."In rural areas, people are more likely engaged in occupations prone to injury," Kolodny said.He said doctors across the country have become increasingly likely to prescribe opioids rather than non-addictive alternatives to patients.

    Post date: Tue, 12/18/2018 - 16:14
  • Miners replaced by machines | Charleston Gazette Mail

    Around the world, in all types of mining, automated machines are replacing human diggers. Forbes magazine calls them “the robots that will mine in hell.”The magazine described a 7,000-foot-deep Arizona copper mine where temperatures are 175 degrees Fahrenheit and warm water drizzles constantly. Caterpillar and Komatsu are building “custom electric loaders, excavators and other robotic gear, equipped with thousands of sensors” to work in the hellish hole.“The machines will find the ore, mine it, and transport it to the surface under the watchful eye of technicians hundreds of miles away,” the business magazine said.Another report says China National Coal Group is using “completely deserted coal mining technology” at two mines. And Australia’s BHP (once Broken Hill Proprietary) is pushing a Next Generation Mining program that “includes autonomous drills and autonomous trucks.”An NBC News report says: “From robotic drills to self-driving ore trucks, automation is bringing a new measure of safety to mines.” Human miners can’t be killed on the job if there are no human miners. Mining professor Bernard Jung predicts “fully automated ‘man-less’ mines that are completely operated by machines.”

    Post date: Tue, 12/18/2018 - 14:41
  • An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It | NPR

    A multiyear investigation by NPR and the PBS program Frontline found that Smith and Kelly are part of a tragic and recently discovered outbreak of the advanced stage of black lung disease, known as complicated black lung or progressive massive fibrosis. A federal monitoring program reported just 99 cases of advanced black lung disease nationwide from 2011-2016. But NPR identified more than 2,000 coal miners suffering from the disease in the same time frame, and in just five Appalachian states.And now, an NPR/Frontline analysis of federal regulatory data — decades of information recorded by dust-collection monitors placed where coal miners work — has revealed a tragic failure to recognize and respond to clear signs of danger.For decades, government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures, the kind that can cause PMF, as they were happening. They knew that miners like Kelly and Smith were likely to become sick and die. They were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it. But they didn't."We failed," said Celeste Monforton, a former mine safety regulator in the Clinton administration who reviewed the NPR/Frontline findings.

    Post date: Tue, 12/18/2018 - 14:40
  • Despite Uncertainty After Court Ruling, Medicaid Expansion Likely to Proceed | Pew Trust

    The three red states — Idaho, Nebraska and Utah — that bucked their own Republican legislatures last month and approved Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act are likely to proceed, despite Friday’s ruling by a federal judge in Texas that the entire federal health care law is unconstitutional. Even in Montana, where voters last month defeated an extension of the temporary Medicaid expansion approved in 2015, legislative leaders predict that lawmakers will make the expansion permanent, since it is politically unpopular to take coverage away from people once it has been extended.Voter-approved Medicaid expansion would extend health care benefits to 91,000 low-income people in Idaho, nearly 90,000 in Nebraska and 150,000 in Utah.

    Post date: Tue, 12/18/2018 - 14:38

Ag and Rural Leaders

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is dedicated to promoting and fostering cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators that are passionate about agriculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, to provide and promote educational opportunities for state officials and others on technology, policy, processes and issues that are of concern to agrculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS produces the national agriculture and rural enewsletter - Ag Clips, webinars, white papers and the annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is managed by an elected board of state and provincial legislators.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is where state leaders find the answers they need on agriculture and rural policy issues.

Gleanings

Talk to your governor about the Opportunity Zones in your state

30 January, 2018

Qualified Opportunity Zones in the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017

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Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  

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