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Rural News

Why do people leave, and what helps bring them back?

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 30, 2018

U.S. Census data shows that many of those leaving rural Montana are the young people, the high school graduates who leave to pursue post-secondary education and don’t come back. “If you can marry a superior and superb quality of life with the reliability and convenience of strong infrastructure, including internet connections and fiber connections, places like Choteau and Fairfield and Cut Bank and Shelby, become far more relevant and attractive for business development than they would be otherwise,” Tuss said.

Proposal would tie Oregon wolf compensation to population

Capital Press | Posted on January 29, 2018

Oregon House Bill 4106 would directly correlate the amount of compensation ranchers receive for wolf attacks on livestock with the overall wolf population statewide. House Bill 4106 requires the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to prepare a report each biennium detailing the change in wolf population over the preceding two years. Legislators would then allocate money from the general fund to the Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program based on the change.The bill is spearheaded by Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, who represents northeast Oregon where the majority of wolves live, including Wallowa County. Co-sponsors include Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass.

Immigration Crackdown Raises Fears of Seeking Health Care

Roll Call | Posted on January 29, 2018

Many people get nervous any time they need to go to the doctor. But in the past year, some U.S. residents became more concerned than usual. Immigrants around the country who are on edge about broader enforcement under the Trump administration have been skipping appointments, questioning whether enrolling in government-funded health care coverage could undermine their immigration applications and showing anxiety about visiting unfamiliar physicians, according to nearly two dozen medical providers and lawyers interviewed recently. Isaura, an undocumented mother of two children living in the Washington, D.C., metro area, described the deep apprehensions some immigrants feel about venturing out in the current political climate.

Cuomo to internet providers: Observe 'net neutrality' or no NY state contracts | Posted on January 29, 2018

New York state will require internet providers to observe net neutrality or risk losing eligibility for state contracts under an executive order issued Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The new policy aims to protect consumers by using the state's lucrative information technology contracts as leverage over internet companies. It's similar to one enacted through executive order Monday by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and comes as states consider how to respond after the Federal Communications Commission last month repealed its own net neutrality policy.Attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia also have sued to block the repeal of the federal policy, which had banned companies from interfering with web traffic or speeds to favor certain sites or apps. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is leading the lawsuit.

Forces that will shape the U.S. rural economy in 2018

CoBank | Posted on January 25, 2018

In rural America, however, economic conditions are considerably more challenging. Persistently low commodity prices have hurt U.S. agricultural producers, depressing farm income and eating into farmers’ working capital. There is continuing uncertainty about the direction the Trump administration will take with regard to NAFTA and other international trade agreements that are vitally important to agriculture. Rural utilities face growing pressure to consolidate in the face of high regulatory costs, technological change and the loss of population across many rural areas

Washington legislature passes bill to settle water use dispute

Wahkiakum County Eagle | Posted on January 25, 2018

One of the year’s most important legislative battles in Washington state came to a surprisingly quick conclusion last Thursday evening when a water-use bill passed both chambers and went to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed it into law the next day. In 2016, the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision essentially halted development across the state when it determined that counties were not adequately examining impacts on stream and river flow levels.The decision weighed heavily on last year’s legislative session when Republicans refused to reach an agreement on a state capital budget until Democrats could devise an appropriate Hirst fix. The capital budget pays for state-funded development, and the stalemate put a delay to a number of projects across Washington, including efforts to improve schools.Inslee and party leaders were vocal heading into this year’s session that solving the Hirst/capital budget issue was a major priority, and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program that a fix was agreed upon late Jan. 17 when leaders from each chamber met with the governor.“I appreciate that the complexity of this issue required several months of negotiations by many legislators,” Inslee said in a Jan. 18 press release. “While far from perfect, this bill helps protect water resources while providing water for families in rural Washington.”

Food leads the manufacturing pack in Southern Nevada

Las Vegas Review Journal | Posted on January 25, 2018

Nevada’s manufacturing industry is heating up. But it’s not the type of manufacturing you might think. “It’s a multi-step process. Corn is cooked, washed and ground, then pressed out into tortilla chip shapes,” said Allan Perkins, director of manufacturing at Las Vegas tortilla chip manufacturer R.W. Garcia. “They are first baked at about 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Then they are lightly fried in corn or sunflower oil at about 330 degrees Fahrenheit.”Perkins said R.W. Garcia added 35 employees between its two 65,000-square-foot facilities last year, contributing to Nevada’s roughly 23,498 employees in manufacturing in 2017. That’s up 16 percent, or 3,218 jobs, from 2011, according to data from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.A December report on Southern Nevada by Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis said, “Employment in the manufacturing and logistics industry has outperformed the national average in each of the past six years. And, since 2011, industry employment has grown at two and a half times the national rate.”

Hog farm fight going to MN Supreme Court | Posted on January 25, 2018

The fight over a patch of farmland in Goodhue County near Zumbrota is going to the Minnesota Supreme court. Concerned residents are contesting an appeals court ruling that allows construction of a proposed hog farm to go through.Opponents argue the farm would violate county zoning ordinances. They also say it will create problems like possible sinkholes and the release of a gas they say is hazardous.The farm has the needed permits, but construction is on hold while the legal battle continues.The farm owners say what they're trying to build has been used by livestock owners for fifty years.

The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem

The New York Times | Posted on January 25, 2018

You might think that the kind of extreme poverty that would concern a global organization like the United Nations has long vanished in this country. Yet the special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, recently made and reported on an investigative tour of the United States. Surely no one in the United States today is as poor as a poor person in Ethiopia or Nepal? As it happens, making such comparisons has recently become much easier. The World Bank decided in October to include high-income countries in its global estimates of people living in poverty. We can now make direct comparisons between the United States and poor countries.According to the World Bank, 769 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013; they are the world’s very poorest. Of these, 3.2 million live in the United States, and 3.3 million in other high-income countries (most in Italy, Japan and Spain).The Oxford economist Robert Allen recently estimated needs-based absolute poverty lines for rich countries that are designed to match more accurately the $1.90 line for poor countries, and $4 a day is around the middle of his estimates. When we compare absolute poverty in the United States with absolute poverty in India, or other poor countries, we should be using $4 in the United States and $1.90 in India.Once we do this, there are 5.3 million Americans who are absolutely poor by global standards. This is a small number compared with the one for India, for example, but it is more than in Sierra Leone (3.2 million) or Nepal (2.5 million), about the same as in Senegal (5.3 million) and only one-third less than in Angola (7.4 million). Pakistan (12.7 million) has twice as many poor people as the United States, and Ethiopia about four times as many.

Washington Legislature passes Hirst bill on wells

Capital Press | Posted on January 23, 2018

The back-to-back votes ended a yearlong standoff created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling. Some Democrats said new wells will trample tribal treaty rights. Some Republicans complained lawmakers were turning over millions of dollars to unelected watershed-restoration panels. Still, Senate Bill 6091 received bipartisan support in both chambers. “This bill provides a path forward for the people who just want to build on their few acres,” said Moses Lake Sen. Judy Warnick, the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee.The court’s decision was based on the assumption that each new well draws water from streams and harms fish. The ruling left individual landowners in the position of having to prove otherwise.