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Rural News

Rural businesses feel ripple effect of farming struggles

Gazette Extra | Posted on March 18, 2019

Market forces have afflicted farmers in practically every commodity. Some farmers have drawn from their bank accounts and tried to persevere. Some have sold their animals and switched to other types of farming. Others have left the industry. As farms evaporate—Rock and Walworth counties have lost dairy farms every year since at least 1975—rural businesses that rely on farmers are feeling the impact.“I think it’s simple as driving down the road,” McMahon said. “Count how many dairy farms used to be a dairy farm. Right now, there might be horses in that pasture. It’s obvious that was a barn. There’s nothing there now. It is that simple.“How has it affected? Well, they’re just gone.” Even some of Beeler’s farmer customers who have no debt are struggling. They’ve had difficulty competing with enormous operations that have indirectly forced small farms out of business, she said.Those massive farms, some of which have out-of-state owners, often aren’t buying from local feed stores or implement dealers. They aren’t having a beer and burger at the tavern down the road, Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden said.“The bigger issue is the number of dollars leaving communities when small farms disappear. They’re not spending those dollars locally anymore,” said Von Ruden, whose union district covers Rock County. “That farm is probably banking out of the area or maybe even out of the state. And buying a lot of their commodities directly out of shipping terminals instead of buying from a local supplier.”


Wolves lead, dogs follow -- and both cooperate with humans

Science Daily | Posted on March 17, 2019

The statement is a bold one, especially as wolves have received a lot of negative attention in recent years. A recent study conducted by behavioral researchers, however, shows that dogs and wolves both work equally well with humans, albeit in different ways. The allegedly unequal brothers are thus much more similar than often assumed.


Why Broadband is a Better Bet than Coal for Rural America

Electric Light & Power | Posted on March 17, 2019

In my years as CEO of two different power-supply electric coops, one in Kentucky and the other in Colorado, I came to deeply appreciate the hardworking coal miners whose tough jobs had always been so indispensable to power generation. I felt for those miners as the forces of regulation and economics shifted our coal-powered industry toward natural gas. Across coal country, proud and vibrant small towns suffered enormously as mines closed and good-paying jobs faded. They suffer still.The truth is that no amount of political rhetoric can alter a fundamental reality of the U.S. energy system: Coal has no chance of competing with natural gas.  Fortunately, a movement is growing that actually could make a real difference for overlooked rural communities. According to a report published this past January by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), more than 100 electric co-ops now aim to provide broadband to rural communities in which this infrastructure is desperately needed. 


Existing census obstacles made worse for rural, immigrant communities

Peoria Journal Star | Posted on March 17, 2019

With up to two Illinois congressional seats and $1 billion or more in federal funding on the line if Illinois’ population is not correctly counted in the 2020 census, not-for-profit groups warn that changes to the census format this year could exacerbate an undercount in already hard-to-reach communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16 percent of Illinoisans live in “hard to count,” or HTC, communities, which require greater resources for the Census Bureau to reach and are the most likely to be undercounted.While HTC communities can be found across the state, they each have defining characteristics that make an undercount likely, and include rural, low-income, high-immigrant and homeless populations, as well as children, renters and ethnic or racial minorities.These communities are prevalent in large pockets of Chicago and surrounding Cook County; urban centers around the state, including Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Decatur and Metro East; and more rural areas, especially in southern Illinois, such as Carbondale, Cairo and various southern counties


Pot for pets: Here's how vets and others say it can help

Detroit Free Press | Posted on March 14, 2019

Misty is just one of an untold number of customers in a relatively new, but growing market — pot for pets. These aren’t the edibles or oils that contain THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that provides the “high” in humans — although there are some products being sold that contain low doses of THC. These are hemp-based products that provide relief for all sorts of doggie ailments, from arthritis to cancer to anxiety.And in an industry where pet owners spend an estimated $72 billion a year in the United States on supplies, veterinarian bills and medications, according to the American Pet Products Association, some experts believe the next big thing for doting dog owners is cannabis.


Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows

Los Angeles Times | Posted on March 14, 2019

In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history.A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss and other coastal threats across California. These factors have been studied extensively but rarely together in the same model.


Review of noise impacts on marine mammals yields new policy recommendations

Science Daily | Posted on March 14, 2019

Marine mammals are particularly sensitive to noise pollution because they rely on sound for so many essential functions, including communication, navigation, finding food, and avoiding predators. An expert panel has now published a comprehensive assessment of the available science on how noise exposure affects hearing in marine mammals, providing scientific recommendations for noise exposure criteria that could have far-reaching regulatory implications.


Mental Health Trails Metal Detectors in School Safety Dollars

Pew Trust | Posted on March 14, 2019

After a gunman shot and killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to make the state’s public schools safe for students and teachers. “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” he said at a news conference following the May 18 shooting. “It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas.” In August, Abbott issued a school safety action plan. And in his State of the State address in January he declared the issue an emergency item for the state’s biennial legislative session.ut Abbott, a Republican, also made it clear that in gun-loving Texas, school safety measures won’t include taking guns away from people considered a danger to themselves or others, known as “red flag” laws.Instead, the debate is over how much state money to invest in metal detectors, alarm systems and surveillance cameras versus school counselors and mental health assessments.


Canada says improving internet and cellphone service in rural areas is a priority

CKRM | Posted on March 14, 2019

The federal government says improving internet and cellphone service in rural areas is a priority. The Minister of Rural Economic Development, Bernadette Jordan spoke Tuesday at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention in Saskatoon. “It’s a huge issue, it’s an expense if one. there’s no question. But we recognize that internet now is like highways as well because you have to have it in order to grow.”Jordan says the government is in the process of developing a preliminary plan, which should be ready by June. “We will make sure that we continue to work with our partners to see the best way forward, to make sure that we do provide a business case to be able to put in the backbone that we need in order to do that.”“We know that in rural areas it’s really hard to grow a business, to upscale, to export, to expand if you don’t have that critical piece of infrastructure that is internet and also cell phone coverage,” she adds.


Representative Wills:He wants to keep fighting for Iowa’s smallest towns

Northwest Iowa | Posted on March 14, 2019

I believe we are facing a critical juncture in our state. Are we going to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the shrinking populations of rural Iowa or are we going to finally put forth serious efforts toward tackling the issue head on? I have been working on a piece of legislation that identifies communities in rural Iowa that don’t need a handout but instead need to be treated fairly. Rural Iowa should have an opportunity to compete for the same or similar benefits that seem to always land in our largest cities and counties.House File 468 is a bill that requires half the state’s economic development tax credits to be used in rural Iowa. It targets communities meeting the following criteria: population under 15,000, proximity to a four-lane highway or interstate road systems, contain a community college within it to train a workforce.These communities too often can’t compete with the big cities when it comes to applying for incentives or wooing business and industry. Some of that is due to economic development strategies that don’t focus on our areas of state. I envision a system where our state has regional hubs of economic development that serve as economic generators for the towns, communities and counties surrounding them.


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