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Rural News

Rx Drug Death Rate Grows Fastest in Rural

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 12, 2016

Rural counties have seen a disproportionate jump in deaths from prescription-drug overdoses in the past 15 years, increasing at a pace three times that of the nation’s most urban counties. About three-quarters of all U.S. deaths caused by prescription drugs in 2014 were from opioid pain killers, making prescriptions a major part of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Rural – or “noncore” – counties saw an average increase in prescription drug deaths rates of about 9 percent per year from 1999 to 2014. Central counties of large metropolitan areas (1 million residents or more), on the other hand, saw the death rate climb by less than 3 percent per year on average over the same period. Rural counties started with lower prescription-drug death rates than cities, so smaller increases in raw numbers of deaths in rural places can mean a sharper growth in the death rate. But by the end of the study period, rural counties’ prescription-drug death rates equaled or exceeded the rates in metropolitan areas.

Poll: Most voters say US infrastructure getting worse

The Hill | Posted on August 12, 2016

Nearly half of Americans believe the nation’s infrastructure has deteriorated over the last five years, according to a new poll from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.  The survey of 2,000 registered voters found that 46 percent think the state of U.S. infrastructure has gotten worse and nearly 90 percent believe that roads, bridges and energy grids require extreme repairs.  The AEM is hoping that the poll, which was released Monday, will guide lawmakers and candidates as they craft their long-term visions for infrastructure.  “Americans across the political spectrum understand the dire state of U.S. infrastructure and believe that the federal government should do more to improve our infrastructure,” said Dennis Slater, president of the AEM. “Voters recognized that increased federal funding for assets such as roads, bridges, and inland waterways will have a positive impact on the economy, and they are looking to the federal government to repair and modernize.”  The country is projected to face a $1.4 trillion infrastructure investment gap in the next decade, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Urban-Rural Divide: Deep Roots In American History

Huffington Post | Posted on August 11, 2016

Anyone observing America’s ongoing culture wars, especially as they surface in the current presidential election cycle, is forcefully reminded that we are not a country divided by red and blue states; it’s an urban-rural divide that represents the political and cultural fault lines in the nation. The difference is no longer where people live, it’s about how people live: in widely-dispersed, open rural areas with plenty of privacy or in high population density, diverse urban areas where tolerance becomes almost mandatory among its residents. But how far back does the urban-rural divide go? Before the Civil War, our political and cultural differences fell mostly along state and regional borders. Worldviews and politics followed a mostly north-south direction. But even in the early 19th century, one can spot the primitive origins of the town-country, urban-rural divide that has become so pervasive in modern America.

Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study

The Guardian | Posted on August 11, 2016

Agriculture and the overexploitation of plants and animal species are significantly greater threats to biodiversity than climate change, new analysis shows.  Joint research published in the journal Nature found nearly three-quarters of the world’s threatened species faced these threats, compared to just 19% affected by climate change.

Tired of Waiting for Corporate High-Speed Internet, Minnesota Farm Towns Build Their Own

Yes Magazine | Posted on August 8, 2016

A unique community-owned broadband cooperative will free dozens of tiny towns and farms from reliance on slower corporate providers. Today, in this sparsely populated swath of Minnesota, a grassroots, member-owned cooperative spanning more than 700 square miles and four counties is poised to expand high-speed broadband access—without relying on federal funding. After seven years of development led by local leaders and volunteers, RS Fiber, now in its first phase of construction, is expected to deliver high-speed broadband internet to more than 6,000 rural households by 2021. And unlike companies like Mediacom, the co-op is owned by local customers who have a say in rates and how it’s operated. Attracting investors to build a high-investment network in low-density communities wasn’t easy. To help raise seed funding, ten local governments issued bonds that covered half of the approximately $16 million required for the project’s first phase. This model got local banks interested. As long as local demand meets projections, revenue from the broadband network will more than repay government loans, and taxpayers won’t owe a dime. 

Turning Iowa farmland into butterfly, bee habitat

Des Moines Register | Posted on August 8, 2016

Over the past four years, Iowa farmers have enrolled 127,005 acres in a federal conservation reserve program designed to sustain butterflies, bees, wasps, birds and bats — with all but 15,000 acres being added in the past year, according to the Iowa Farm Service Agency.  In fact, Iowa has about 40 percent of the nation's total acres of pollinator habitat, the agency said. The federal contracts require the land to be set aside for habitat for 10 or 15 years, with penalties for ending them sooner.  Part of Iowa's adoption comes from a big state and national habitat push.

State report says immigrants boost Michigan economy

Detroit Free Press | Posted on August 8, 2016

A report released by the state says immigration boosts Michigan's economy, helping the state emerge from a lengthy recession, and suggests many of the estimated 126,000 undocumented immigrants in Michigan should be made legal.The report "Contributions of New Americans in Michigan" was released by the Michigan Office for New Americans, which Republican Gov. Rick Snyder created in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The state office said it partnered in the release of the report with the bipartisan Partnership for a New American Economy's "Reason for Reform" campaign, which is pushing for immigration changes and a less-restrictive federal immigration policy.  “Immigration has proven to be a driver of job creation and economic growth in Michigan,” Snyder said in a news release.

A new brand of doctor targets the unhealthy in rural Tennessee

The Tennessean | Posted on August 8, 2016

Brent Staton, a primary care physician in Cookeville, heads an organization called Cumberland Center for Healthcare Innovation, a network of affiliated, independent doctors in small towns and rural counties around the state.  But what it is, is a band of primary care doctors in about 50 counties across Tennessee who want to collaborate as a way to sustain their independence in changing the health care system — and as a path to making their patients, and communities, healthier. It’s an operational umbrella that provides lots — and lots — of data, contracting support and ideas on how to comply with increasingly complex quality standards facing physicians. It’s doctor-run, which is part of the appeal to insurers who are trying to control costs, as well as to patients who are looking for a doctor-patient relationship. It’s also one of the reasons why the organization has a shot at being successful at a model that others have struggled to make work.

Rural Electrical Cooperatives Turn to the Internet

New York Times | Posted on August 8, 2016

"This is the New Deal" saud Sheila Allgood, a manager of Bolt, the broadband subsidiary of the Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooeprative. "Now we are doing what cable and telecom companies don't want to do, just like we did for electricity when the big private power companies didn't want to come here."

Rural areas pay more for health insurance | Posted on August 5, 2016

Colorado's rural areas can't escape higher health insurance costs because it costs more to deliver health care. That's the conclusion Monday from the state Division of Insurance, which was ordered to study the problem of higher insurance prices on the Western Slope and in other rural areas. The Division looked at Colorado's nine geographic rating areas for health insurance. State lawmakers from rural areas have said it's unfair that folks along the Front Range have lower costs for health insurance.  They wanted to see Colorado adopt a single price for health coverage in all parts of the state.