Gov. Bill Lee's first executive order calls for accelerated development in Tennessee's distressed rural counties, a priority he emphasized throughout his campaign for governor. The executive order, issued Wednesday, requires all state executive departments to provide recommendations for how they can better serve rural Tennessee through a "statement of rural impact." His office says the order is a first step by his administration to move forward with plans to spur improvements in 15 rural distressed counties in Tennessee, meaning they are among the 10 percent most economically challenged counties in the nation by the Appalachian Regional Commission, which prepares an annual index.The 22 departments involved in the review have until May 31 to issue their rural impact statements to explain how they serve rural Tennessee. By June 30, each department must release its recommendations for improving service to rural areas.
In December, two nearby hospitals, one almost 40 miles away, the other 60 miles away, closed their doors for good. The closings were the latest in a trend that has seen 21 rural hospitals across Texas shuttered in the past six years, leaving 160 still operating.Lyle, who is CEO, can’t help wondering whether his Falls Community Hospital will be next.“Most assuredly,” he replied when asked whether he could envision his central Texas hospital going under. “We’re not using our reserves yet, but I can see them from here.”It’s not just Texas: Nearly a hundred rural hospitals in the United States have closed since 2010, according to the Center for Health Services Research at UNC Chapel Hill. Another 600-plus rural hospitals are at risk of closing, according to an oft-cited 2016 report by iVantage Health Analytics. Texas had the most hospitals in danger of closing (75), the health metrics firm said. And Mississippi had the largest share of hospitals at risk (79 percent).Neither state has expanded Medicaid eligibility to more of its low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In fact, the closures and at-risk hospitals are heavily clustered in the 14 states that have not expanded.Those state decisions not to expand have deprived rural hospitals, which already operate with the slimmest of margins, of resources that could be the difference between survival and closure.
A couple in northeast Nebraska is the first to find housing through the state's rural housing program, which aims to help rural communities increase housing opportunities to better retain workers.The state's $7 million Rural Workforce Housing Fund gives nonprofit development organizations matching grants to construct or rehabilitate housing in rural parts of the state. The goal is to create housing options for middle-income workers who don't qualify for other housing assistance programs but don't have enough for a down payment.
State veterinarians in North Dakota are continuing testing cattle after a total of seven beef cows in a herd from Sargent County tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) in recent months. The TB strain – Mycobacterium bovis – has not previously been identified in U.S. cattle and is most similar to cases that have been identified in Mexican cattle, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture noted on its website. The agency also warned that the strain of TB can be transmitted from animals to humans and from humans to animals.
Sen. Carol Blood withdrew her original proposal, Legislative Bill 14, earlier this week and introduced LB 594, which would add a clause to the state’s existing Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The clause would place in violation of the act anyone who "advertises, promotes, labels, represents, illustrates, displays, for sale, offers for sale, attempts to sell, or sells an insect-based, a plant-based, or a lab-grown food product as meat."
The future availability and price for veal in the state of California is cloudy following the passage of a law mandating space requirements for raising food animals, according to the American Veal Association (AVA).The organization is warning that the passage of Proposition 12 in California last year will force farmers in the Golden State to raise about 66 calves in a barn that was designed to hold 200 calves because of the act’s space requirements. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, veal intended for sale in California will need to come from barns that offer 43 square feet per calf, regardless of size or age of the calf.AVA President Dale Bakke called the regulations “unnecessary … and excessive” and notes that “no milk-fed veal raised anywhere in the world” meets the new floor space requirements. He also notes that AVA members already provide between 16 and 20 square feet of space per calf depending on the size of the animal.
Governor Brown signed SB 1192, which is the California Healthy-by-Default Kids’ Meal Drinks bill! The bill requires restaurants in the state that market children’s meals to offer only water or milk as the default beverage for the children’s meals. This is a big step towards reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by children and creating a healthier food environment.
A Nebraska farmer looking to add chickens to his operation, in order to supply Lincoln Premium Poultry with broilers for Costco’s rotisseries, has been denied the permits to do so. he spate of chicken farms being built in an area traditionally known for cattle and crops has spurred opposition from neighbors concerned about pollution, traffic and pests.
From a recent finding of unconstitutionality in Iowa, to an award of attorney’s fees in Idaho, to a new legal challenge in Kansas, “ag gag” laws have continued to be in the news recently. “Ag gag” laws are generally designed to prohibit a person from entering an agricultural operation without permission or by fraudulent means and obtaining video or photographs of the operation. Although nearly half of the states have attempted to pass this type of provision, only eight have done so. Those states are: IA, ID, KS, MO, MT, NC, ND, and UT.Although each state’s law differs, generally, two types of provisions are present. First, most laws prohibit entering an ag operation and obtaining unauthorized video or photographs of the operation. Second, some laws prohibit an applicant from making false statements on a job application in order to gain entry to an agricultural operation with the intent to video or photograph.Just this month, an Iowa federal court held the Iowa statute unconstitutional. The court took a three-step approach to analyzing this legal challenge.First, the judge held that this statute did apply to “speech.” Because the statute requires speech–either false or misleading statements–it falls within the definition of speech. Next, the court considered whether the false statements prohibited by the statute are protected speech. Not all falsehoods are protected; only those that do not cause a “legally cognizable harm” or provide “material gain” to the speaker fall within the protections of the First Amendment. The court found the falsehoods at issue under the statute do neither, meaning the First Amendment is applicable.
Governor Larry Hogan has announced several items in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Included is level funding support for the Rural Maryland Council (RMC), Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF) and the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF). The Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund is included in the budget for $ 6 million for targeted investment to promote economic prosperity in Maryland’s traditionally disadvantaged and underserved rural communities by sustaining efforts to promote rural regional cooperation, facilitating entrepreneurial activities and supporting key community colleges and nonprofit providers.In Fiscal Year 2019, RMPIF also received $6 million in funding. Since Fiscal Year 2017, funds for RMPIF have been included in the State’s Operating budget.For Fiscal Year 2019, 36 grants were distributed to 33 organizations throughout the State.