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Rural News

Kentucky Milk Processing Plant to Close, Eliminating 52 Jobs

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on May 8, 2018

A Kentucky milk processing plant is slated to close next month, resulting in the loss of 52 jobs.The Paducah Sun reports the general manager of the Prairie Farms Dairy plant, David Atchley, notified the Kentucky Division of Workforce and Employment Services on Tuesday. His letter indicated employees will receive severance pay and benefits after the plant closes June 30.Fulton County Judge-Executive Jim Martin says the closure was not unexpected, as the company had raised the possibility several years ago.Martin says milk production in the area has decreased, and the county has seen more job loss than creation over the last decade. He says he hopes the skilled workforce will attract potential investors. Prairie Farms will continue to operate a distribution operation employing about 12 in Fulton.

Alaska bill to protect spawning habitats could affect rural development

Webcenter 11 | Posted on May 8, 2018

House Bill 199, also known as the "Wild Salmon Legacy Act" updates "Title 16, an older fish habitat protection and permitting law. According to the updated bill a broader definition of what constitutes salmon spawning environments, or "anadromous fish habitat" is the aspect of the legislation that is causing so much debate. According to HB 199, "anadromous fish habitat" includes any "naturally occurring permanent of intermittent season water body, and the bed beneath, including all sloughs, backwaters, portions of the floodplain covered by the mean annual flood, and adjacent riparian area, that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the spawning, rearing, migration, or overwintering of anadromous fish." 
Supporters of the legislation argue people will say anything to distract from the real issues at hand. They say HB 199, was proposed to update an older Alaska fish habitat protection permitting law.  "The two tier permitting program that the initiative sets up really creates a streamlined and efficient process for people who are looking to do projects in the salmon habitat areas, whether they are large or small there are guidelines to follow. It gives business the certainty it needs to move forward," said Director of Stand for Salmon, Ryan Schryver.
Opponents of the bill say the definition used to define 'Anadromous fish habitat' is so broad that it will impair community and resource development - potentially hurting Alaskan communities. 

Illinois counties declare 'sanctuary' status for gun owners

Chicago Tribune | Posted on May 8, 2018

Several rural Illinois counties have taken a stand for gun rights by co-opting a word that conservatives associate with a liberal policy to skirt the law: sanctuary. At least five counties recently passed resolutions declaring themselves sanctuary counties for gun owners — a reference to so-called sanctuary cities such as Chicago that don't cooperate with aspects of federal immigration enforcement. The resolutions are meant to put the Democratic-controlled Legislature on notice that if it passes a host of gun bills, including new age restrictions for certain weapons, a bump stock ban and size limit for gun magazines, the counties might bar their employees from enforcing the new laws."It's a buzzword, a word that really gets attention. With all these sanctuary cities, we just decided to turn it around to protect our Second Amendment rights," said David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board. He said at least 20 Illinois counties and local officials in Oregon and Washington have asked for copies of Effingham County's resolution. Co-opting the sanctuary title is also a way of drawing attention to the rural-urban political divide that was so stark in the last general election, when "downstate" areas of Illinois backed Donald Trump, who remains popular with those voters, while the Chicago backed Hillary Clinton, who grew up in the suburbs.

Net neutrality is vital – but so is rural broadband

Anchorage Daily News | Posted on May 4, 2018

Most issues look different from rural America, but that's especially true of net neutrality.No one doubts that net neutrality policies to keep the internet open and free for all users is vital. No internet provider or tech company should be allowed to block websites, censor or discriminate against viewpoints, manipulate cyberspace to shut out competition or otherwise interfere with our online experience.But for many activists and tech advocates in high-connectivity urban areas, that's all that net neutrality means. In rural America, however, effective net neutrality means much more.Most fundamentally, net neutrality policies must also accelerate the deployment and build out of new high speed networks to rural areas. A neutral internet doesn't mean much if you don't have network access in the first place and almost 40 percent of rural Americans still lack high-speed broadband.This is a key issue often overlooked in the debate. Policies that slow down the national effort to connect rural areas actually set net neutrality back. That may not be obvious in connected meccas like Silicon Valley or Washington DC, but it's painfully true on the ground in places like McGregor, Minnesota or Duckwater, Nevada, where access is spotty and incomplete.And this is how the current debate in Congress over competing proposals on net neutrality so frequently misses the point.

As they pick peaches and pine straw, S.C.'s 3,000 migrant farmers rely on advocates and legal aid

The Post and Courier | Posted on May 4, 2018

Before Charleston chefs can mine local crops for inventive seasonal recipes, thousands of migrant farm workers will descend on South Carolina's farms to pick and prune this year's peaches, tomatoes and berries.   Last year, about 3,000 foreign workers arrived in the Palmetto State through the H-2A visa program, a federal initiative that provides farmers and growers with temporary labor where domestic labor is inconsistent.The state agencies and organizations working to protect these workers by ensuring they have access to legal aid, medical services, fair wages and proper housing will meet Friday to strategize how they can most effectively serve this summer's workers.

Pulling water from Lake Michigan for Foxconn plant approved

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on May 4, 2018

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has approved a request to pull millions of gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan to serve a new Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing plant, helping the Taiwanese electronics giant clear a major regulatory hurdle. Foxconn expects to begin construction on a $10 billion flat-screen plant in Mount Pleasant within weeks. The city of Racine filed a request with the DNR in January to withdraw 7 million gallons of water daily from the lake to serve the plant. The city's application estimated about 2.7 million gallons will be consumed daily by plant operations and evaporation. The rest will be treated and returned to the lake.

Let public schools sell whole milk again, says GOP lawmaker

Washington Examiner | Posted on May 3, 2018

A House Republican is pressing the Trump administration to change federal regulations so public schools can sell unflavored whole milk to kids again. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., introduced the Whole Milk Act, along with Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., to codify that change.Under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Agriculture changed federal nutrition standards by allowing schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to sell only unflavored 1 percent milk, not whole milk. But Marino said that change didn't have the effect that regulators hoped

Every state but Missouri has opioid drug tracking. Why are senators against it? | Posted on May 3, 2018

Missouri is among the 20 worst states for drug overdose deaths, but it was the only state left without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. This week, the Missouri Senate attempted to defund one set up by Gov. Eric Greitens.Greitens ordered the creation of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, last year amid a growing opioid crisisaffecting Missouri and the U.S.

In Rural Areas Hit Hard by Opioids, a New Source of Hope

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on May 2, 2018

Like many rural areas in the United States, central and southern Delaware had no place for people to get withdrawal management services before the Harrington clinic opened in 2015. It quickly saw there was high demand. When the center looked for money to expand, it found an unexpected partner: the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using a $1 million low-interest loan from the agency, the center is adding space for counseling, family therapy and primary care. The agency this year says it will dedicate at least $20 million of a $49 million rural telehealth and distance learning fund for projects related to opioid addiction. It also has committed to spending $5 million of a $30 million grant program that pays for buildings and equipment in rural areas for projects related to opioids.The Harrington project, which came before the announcement, is an example of the type of work the USDA wants to support. A provision in the House version of the 2018 farm bill would allow the secretary of agriculture to declare a rural health emergency, allowing the agency to move more quickly than usual and requiring it to reserve money to address the problem.

City upbringing, without pets, boosts vulnerability to mental illness

Science Daily | Posted on May 2, 2018

Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research. The research also suggests that raising kids around pets might be good for mental health -- for reasons people might not expect.