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Rural News

To Cut Drug Prices, Academy of Sciences Tells the Government to Negotiate With Manufacturers

The New York Times | Posted on December 2, 2017

The National Academy of Sciences called Thursday for sweeping changes in the pricing, sale and promotion of prescription drugs to make lifesaving treatments more affordable without discouraging the development of new medicines. The federal government should negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, the academy said, an idea pushed by Democrats for years, embraced by President Trump during the 2016 campaign, but opposed by congressional Republicans. The government, it said, should also deny tax deductions for drug advertising aimed at consumers and set annual limits on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.“Consumer access to effective and affordable medicines is an imperative for public health, social equity and economic development,” a panel of 17 experts said in a report issued by the academy. “However, this imperative is not being adequately served by the biopharmaceutical sector today.”

American farm towns, with changing priorities, reject industrial agriculture

Wall Street Journal | Posted on November 30, 2017

Rural Americans are turning their backs on the industry that made the U.S. the biggest meat-exporting country in the world. Residents of Tonganoxie, a 5,300-person town in northeast Kansas, spent part of the fall hanging white-and-red placards that say “No Tyson in Tongie” on fenceposts and pickup trucks. Their efforts were part of a public push against Tyson Foods Inc., TSN 0.10% the largest U.S. meat processor by sales, which trumpeted in early September its plans to build a $320 million chicken-processing complex just south of town.The investment, Tyson said, would bring 1,600 jobs to the area and deliver $150 million annually to the Kansas economy, in part because it would pay local farmers to raise chickens and buy locally grown grain to feed them. “Kansas will be an outstanding home for this Tyson complex,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who joined Tyson staff and local elected officials in Tonganoxie when they unveiled the plan.Many residents, including farmers, disagreed. Online, they raised alarms about groundwater pollution, infrastructure burdens and noxious smells. With a relatively strong economy, and job flexibility that comes from proximity to the Kansas City metropolitan area, many weren’t persuaded by the promised economic benefits. Critics railed at Tyson’s proposed plant on radio shows and in local newspapers, and crowded into city council and county board meetings by the hundreds.

Opioid crisis affects farmers harder than their rural neighbors

Bloomberg | Posted on November 30, 2017

The U.S. opioid crisis that’s sweeping through America’s heartland has hit farmers harder than the wider rural population. Almost three-quarters of U.S. farmers and farm workers say they have been directly affected by opioid dependence, either from taking an illegal dose or dealing with a habit themselves, or by knowing someone who has used. That compares with about 45 percent for the rural population as a whole, according to a poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, the two biggest U.S. farmer groups.

MN:Grants available to keep wolves away from livestock

Duluth News Tribune | Posted on November 30, 2017

Minnesota livestock producers have until Dec. 15 to apply for grant money to help prevent wolf attacks. The deadline was extended three weeks due to a late harvest that kept farmers in the fields longer than average, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said.The Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grants are a new program funded by the 2017 Minnesota Legislature with $240,000 available over the next two years.

Rural Case on Net Neutrality

DTN | Posted on November 30, 2017

The neutrality debate pits major internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Mediacom -- just to name a few -- against a growing industry of internet content providers such as Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Caught in between are rural residents who lag behind urban residents in quality internet service, but also have growing demands for internet content.The FCC created the net neutrality rule in 2015 when Democrats controlled a majority of votes at the commission. The rule essentially classified high-speed internet as a public utility that should provide equal access. The FCC said Tuesday that the commission will return to "a light regulatory touch" that had been the FCC strategy for more than a decade leading up to the 2015 rule.Defenders of net neutrality argue internet companies could block websites or throttle down their speeds, especially if entertainment providers are unwilling to pay for faster access. Companies could potentially favor search engines they own. Verizon Communications, for instance, owns Yahoo.Another potential concern is that internet providers will start splitting various high-traffic websites into bundled packages, much like cable providers do with television stations. People would then be forced to pay higher fees to view other websites or find the speeds for those unbundled websites throttled down or shut off altogether.

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty

Roll Call | Posted on November 22, 2017

About two months after federal funding lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, state officials still don’t know exactly when they’ll run out of money or when Congress will renew funding — leaving families that depend on the program increasingly anxious about their benefits. At least a few states say that they could exhaust funds as soon as next month. States are growing more concerned about the program with just a few days left on the congressional calendar until December and no signs that lawmakers plan in the immediate future to renew funding. 

Opioids and their impact on our rural counties

Farm and Dairy | Posted on November 22, 2017

Our series shares stories from three rural counties with high rates of drug overdose deaths. But they are just an illustration of the opioid epidemic that’s hitting your county, too. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to solving the opioid epidemic, but these solutions are from Ohio and around the country. Some are personal action items, some can be accomplished by organizations and others require local, state or federal governments to act. Which ones are at work in your community, and which ones can you work to put in place?

Concentrated Poverty Increased in Both Rural and Urban Areas Since 2000, Reversing Declines in the 1990s

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on November 21, 2017

The number of nonmetropolitan counties with high poverty rates increased between the 2000 Decennial Census and 2011–2015 (hereafter 2013) American Community Survey (ACS), and so did the share of the rural population residing in these disadvantaged areas. Over this time period, the percentage of rural counties with poverty rates of 20 percent or more increased from a fifth to nearly one-third, and the share of the rural population living in these places nearly doubled to over 31 percent. Levels of concentrated poverty increased substantially both before and after the Great Recession in rural areas, while increases in urban areas occurred mainly during years affected by the economic downturn. Increases in county-level poverty rates were also concentrated in rural areas with small cities, and the share of the population residing in high-poverty counties increased much more among the non-Hispanic white and black populations in rural areas than among the rural Hispanic population.

NY: Cuomo offering free admission at state parks on Black Friday

New York Daily News | Posted on November 21, 2017

Gov. Cuomo is offering New Yorkers a less costly way to spend Black Friday than shopping — visiting a state park. Cuomo announced Friday that state parks will have free admission on the day after Thanksgiving and will host various family friendly events and programs throughout the holiday weekend.

Florida let hepatitis C go untreated in prisons. Now it may cost taxpayers millions.

Miami Herald | Posted on November 21, 2017

The state of Florida may have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment costs to as many as 20,000 sick inmates after a federal judge ruled that prison officials had failed to properly care for felons infected with the hepatitis C virus. The ruling, by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker, requires the Florida Department of Corrections to immediately treat a significant portion of the state’s 98,000 inmates who test positive for the viral infection with direct acting antiviral drugs, a 12-week treatment that now costs about $37,000 per patient.