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Rural News

Fed: Local food movement can spur job growth

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has released research examining how the growing popularity of locally sourced food can be harnessed to boost economic opportunities for both rural and urban communities. Regional food systems are a promising avenue for economic growth through creation and enhancement of jobs and businesses, Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in a foreword to the research. Those opportunities can advance the financial security of low- and moderate-income households and communities, they said.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose

Voluntary pet insurance on an upward trajectory

Benefit News | Posted on August 15, 2017

Employees with pets are happy employees — data shows that pet ownership reduces stress levels and the risk of heart attacks and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels — and employees who don’t have to worry about coming up with money to pay for their furry friends’ often-costly medical bills are happier still. Hence the rise of the pet insurance benefit, which is steadily gaining ground on the voluntary menu. In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%.

Modern small scale farming- could it sustain us?

Strong Towns | Posted on August 15, 2017

Could any of our communities actually survive on local food alone? Could we ever get to a point where local food makes up most of our diets and where local farmers are successfully supplying that? The more I study this, the more I realize it would be pretty darn tough, if not impossible. But, being an apartment dweller who hasn't had the opportunity to spend much time on farms, I wanted to talk to some real farmers to find out if this rang true from their perspective. Were they supporting themselves with their farm income? Could their harvest (and the harvests of their neighboring farmers) feed a community? I interviewed six farmers from around the country (as well as two people who serve in roles supporting local farmers) in both urban and rural settings, growing both produce and animals. All of them opened their farms in the last twenty years and most started in the last ten years. Between the high start-up costs, physical labor required, a regulatory environment geared for corporate farms and the public’s expectations about how much food should cost, it’s very hard to make it as a small-scale farmer. This was clear in my conversations with farmers and it bears out in the statistics as well. Mark and Kena Guttridge opened their family farm, Ollin Farms, in Longmont, CO, just over a decade ago. They spoke honestly about the economic challenges of their profession, even ten years after getting started: Kena: We do have other jobs because economically we cannot survive with the farm. It sounds beautiful and amazing but if we do just that, the farm would probably close.

CA: Cap-and-trade extension included fire fee repeal

Capital Press | Posted on August 10, 2017

The bill to extend California’s cap-and-trade program through 2030, which was signed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown, included the repeal of a controversial fee charged to rural landowners for fire protection.

Broadband economic benefits: why invest in broadband infrastructure?

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 10, 2017

The long-term economic benefits of providing broadband access to every rural community exceed the cost of building that infrastructure. And it isn’t even close. A 2017 study by Ohio State University Swank Program on Rural-Urban Policy estimated the economic benefits of providing broadband access to unserved households in Ohio. To calculate these estimates, the Ohio State study used customer surplus– what a consumer is willing to pay for a service compared to what they are actually paying. In other words, consumer surplus is the average amount of value a consumer receives from Internet service above and beyond the price. In non-metropolitan counties, about 6.2 million households (35.4 percent) lack access to 25/3 fixed broadband. These rural residents are missing out on $11.6 billion per year in economic benefits or $113 billion over fifteen years assuming full coverage and adoption.On the other hand, the most conservative of scenarios, which assumes full access but only 20 percent adoption, would generate an impact of $4.5 billion per year or $43.8 billion over fifteen years in the U.S. In non-metropolitan counties, this same scenario would yield $2.3 billion annually or $22.7 billion over fifteen years.

SNAP plays outsized role in the economy of rural grocery stores

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 10, 2017

As a new report shows that rural households are about 25% more likely than urban ones to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rural grocers say the federal nutrition program is an important part of the revenue that keeps their stores in business. “The way I see it, SNAP is one of the best government programs out there,” said Kip Yoss, who owns and operates two independent grocery stores in rural West Missouri. “It really helps us pay our utilities, our workers, and keep the doors open.” Yoss said his stores earn about 11% of sales from SNAP, which provides a cash-like benefit to low-income Americans that can be spent only on food items. Other stores Yoss works with in harder-hit rural areas earn as much as 20-30% of their revenue from SNAP, he said. SNAP accounts for 9% of grocery sales nationally, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Sixteen percent of nonmetropolitan households used SNAP (formerly called Food Stamps), according to a new study from the Food Research & Action Center using American Community Survey data for 2011-15. The metropolitan rate was 3 points lower, at 13%. (If you’re interested in seeing SNAP usage in your county, the report includes an interactive map as well as state-by-state information.)

Outdoor Recreation Now the Largest Sector of Montana’s Economy

Wild Montana | Posted on August 9, 2017

Governor Bullock's Office of Outdoor Recreation now makes more sense than ever, as does taking good care of our public lands.

Rural families rely more on food stamps than those in metro areas

New York Daily News | Posted on August 8, 2017

Rural Americans are increasingly reliant on food stamps to make ends meet each month — and their usage outstrips that of urban residents, a new study found. Nationally, food stamp participation is highest overall among households in rural areas (16%) and small towns (16%) compared to metro counties (13%).In 23% of rural counties, at least 20% of households participate in the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, meaning they get monthly food stamps to help them purchase certain types of food.

Assemblymen reach across aisle for agriculture

Lodi News | Posted on August 8, 2017

On paper, Assemblymen Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Elk Grove representing California’s 9th District and Heath Flora, a Republican from Ripon representing the 12th District should be political adversaries. Despite their opposing party affiliations, the two found common ground in both their history as public safety employees and their commitment to advocating for California’s agriculture industry.Cooper, a second-term assemblyman, served in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years, reaching the rank of Captain, and spent 14 years as Elk Grove’s founding mayor and councilman before joining the Assembly in 2014.Flora, who is in his first term, is a small business owner from a farming family, served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years in Ripon, where he lives to this day, before joining the assembly in 2016 with Cooper’s endorsement.“I met Heath and thought he was a good fit. His family is in farming, and he was a firefighter, so we have that bond from our histories working in public safety, where you get used to working with other folks. All that matters to cops and firefighters is getting the job done, (political) parties and race don’t matter” said Cooper.In addition to Cooper’s law enforcement background, Flora was impressed by the Elk Grove Democrat’s dedication to learning as much as possible about agriculture.“Jim didn’t know anything about agriculture when he first started, but nobody else in the Assembly educated themselves like he did. We want to take his model and educate other Democrats as well,” said Flora.The two were quick to work across party lines to represent the Central Valley’s needs, including water conservation and agriculture, which Cooper says are different from the rest of California.