One of the last hurdles in Nebraska's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is helping veterinarians find a way to participate to help prevent people from abusing narcotics prescribed for animals.The program was set up to prevent abuse of prescription painkillers and sedatives that can cause addiction, misuse and death from overdose. Nebraska was one of the last states to implement a functional prescription drug monitoring program, with the Legislature getting it done last year. On Jan. 1, dentists, pharmacists, some doctors and anyone else who dispenses prescription drugs began reporting each day all narcotic drug prescriptions dispensed within the state or to Nebraska addresses. The monitoring program stores the information in a secure database and makes it available to health care professionals. Veterinarians, who can be authorized by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to dispense certain narcotic painkillers, were exempted from that requirement until Jan. 1, 2018. But the Nebraska Veterinary Medicine Association sought to have participation delayed to 2019, and Omaha Sen. Bob Krist introduced a bill to do that earlier this month.
Like many small communities, Keota, Iowa, faces some challenges. But the idea that they aren’t big enough to take on large projects isn’t one of them. At least not any more. Business operator Melinda Eakins describes what it took for her community to “Get It Done.”
Chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain condition, has been detected in Texas free-ranging white-tailed deer for the first time. The white-tailed buck that tested positive for the disease was found in Medina County, Texas - just west San Antonio.
Americans are killing themselves at an alarming rate. Nationwide, the mortality rate from drug poisoning, alcohol poisoning, and suicide increased by 52 percent between 2000 and 2014. Most of this increase was driven by a surge in prescription opioid and heroin overdoses, but overdoses from other drugs, suicides by means other than drugs, and alcohol-induced deaths also increased over this period. Between 2010 and 2014, drugs, alcohol, or suicide were the underlying cause of death for 537,000 people and were contributing factors in an additional 133,000 deaths. Especially striking is that mortality from drugs, alcohol, and suicide has increased during a period of declining mortality for other major causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, most cancers, and motor vehicle accidents.
“All of a sudden, rural is on everyone’s mind,” said Kai A. Schafft, director of the Center on Rural Education and Communities at Penn State, adding that November’s vote amplified the plight of people who had heretofore been “pretty systematically ignored, dismissed or passed over.” That’s partly because, while the federal government labels 72 percent of the nation’s land area “rural,” it is home to only 14 percent of the population, and rural schools educate just 18 percent of the nation’s public school students. Locales designated as rural have higher poverty rates and lower education levels than those labeled urban, suburban or town.
To college administrators, rural students, many of them the first in their families to attend college, have become the new underrepresented minority. In their aim to shape leaders and provide access to the disadvantaged, higher education experts have been recognizing that these students bring valuable experiences and viewpoints to campuses that don’t typically attract agriculture majors. Rural students, said Adam Sapp, admissions director at Pomona College, have “a different understanding of complicated political and social issues,” offering “one more lens through which to see a problem.”
"We were able to reduce the numbers of bird fatalities on communications towers by simply extinguishing those nonflashing lights," she says. "Those fatalities were reduced by as much as 70 percent." Exactly why isn't yet clear, but she has a theory. "Some research has documented that when birds are exposed to long wavelengths of light such as red or white that it actually interferes with their ability to use magnetic fields for navigation," Gehring says. She says that's especially true on cloudy nights when birds can't navigate by the stars. The towers' steady red lights seem to confuse them. Flashing red lights don't. In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration changed regulations on new towers, requiring that they all be built with only flashing lights. Gehring, who now works for the Federal Communications Commission, spends much of her time contacting people who run towers built before 2015 and encouraging them to switch to blinking lights.
Community banks across America are disappearing at astonishing rates due to pressure from the rising costs of doing business. In an AgDay exclusive, stockholder-owned lending company Farmer Mac is releasing the results of its study on the health of the farm economy. The lender says more than 10,000 community banks have ceased to exist since 1984, largely due to failure, mergers and acquisitions. Farmer Mac economists are quick to point out that many of these banks were smaller with a limited number of employees and were gobbled up by larger banks. The benefit of community banks, in rural communities, are their emphasis on what they call “relationship banking,” which is important in supporting small businesses, like farmers. However, rising costs like increased regulations and compliance, as well as greater capital requirements are constraining these smaller banks to the point of forcing some out.
A federal court has ordered Wisconsin lawmakers to redraw the state’s legislative district lines by Nov. 1, saying the current lines are unconstitutional and should be replaced in time for the November 2018 election. "Under the prevailing view in this court, the people of Wisconsin already have endured several elections under an unconstitutional reapportionment scheme," wrote Judges Kenneth Ripple, Barbara Crabb and William Griesbach in an eight-page court order. "If they are to be spared another such event, a new map must be drawn in time for the preparatory steps leading up to the election."
Small business drives the rural economy. Rural areas that don’t have the infrastructure and population to draw in big business, support thriving small businesses. Over the last 30 years small businesses created over eight million new jobs. Fifty-five percent of all U.S. jobs are with small businesses. In Ohio, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry has an 87 percent small business employment share. Mom’s diner and Pop’s bait shop create a sense of place for community members. Each time we visit my dad’s hometown he points to an old diner that served the best turkey gravy commercial sandwiches back in his day. Many of our sweetest memories are memories made in mom n’ pop shops. When you are tempted to pass by small businesses because they have higher prices, are out of the way or an extra stop, remember that the economic future of your hometown depends on your support. Money spent on Main Street is always money well spent.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has been working to ensure that Tennessee is the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs and succeeding. In the past two years, TNECD has received nearly 50,000 job commitments from expanding or relocating businesses that have committed nearly $11 billion capital investment in our state. Tennessee has also been recognized as first in the nation for advance industry job growth, first in foreign direct investment job creation, and second in the household median income growth. But there’s a critical piece to continuing this momentum — broadband. Broadband, high speed internet, is critical not just for economic development but also for education, health care, agriculture and quality of life. Too many Tennesseans (around 800,000 people including 34 percent of all rural areas) are living without the connectivity they need for growing businesses and thriving communities, and our neighboring states and others across the country continue to launch new broadband initiatives. Governor Haslam has rolled out his plan to increase broadband access through targeted investment, deregulation and education. The main barrier to the availability of broadband is the high cost of getting it to areas with low population density. That’s why Governor Haslam’s plan includes a targeted investment of $45 million over three years to provide grants and tax credits to offset the capital costs in the hardest to reach areas. Ten million dollars in grants will be available each year to provide broadband for unserved areas. In addition, business tax credits of $5 million will be available to providers that deploy broadband in target areas.