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Rural News

Florence’s Floods Reveal Exposure of Rural Areas to Climate Change

Scientific American | Posted on September 20, 2018

The severity of Hurricane Florence’s destruction caught some residents here by surprise, and they said local officials are overwhelmed, too. The storm’s devastating flooding is a sign that coastal states should prepare for future hurricanes to hit harder—and differently—than they have in the past, according to experts who study climate change. For now, few cities or counties have begun adapting to storms that promise to be wetter, from rain and higher seas, because it’s hard to believe such extreme conditions could be common enough to plan for, said Sarah Watson of the Carolinas Integrated Science & Assessments and the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. Florence’s rainfall hit especially hard because the region was already saturated by an unusually wet summer. North and South Carolina broke their annual rainfall records, joining Texas and Hawaii to make four new state records in the past year, according to The Washington Post.“Our challenge is trying to manage the everyday [weather] that suddenly seems completely out of character,” Watson said. “The afternoon thunderstorm that sits over a localized area and drops 6 inches of rain in two hours—you can’t adapt to that. You can’t build infrastructure to manage that. Even if you could, you couldn’t afford it.”

Bureaucracy could be death of famous porker

Toronto Sun | Posted on September 13, 2018

Esther the Wonder Pig’s two dads have a new crusade to make all companion animals equal in the eyes to the government. The social media darling who is Esther – and has 1.4 million followers on Facebook – recently had been diagnosed with cancer and late last month had an operation to remove a breast tumour.She may need further treatment such as chemotherapy but bureaucracy could be the death of Esther.The Canadian Food Inspection Agency doesn’t consider her a companion animal, but a pig which is or potentially could become part of the food chain and is therefore denied a whole host of life-saving drugs or treatments.Dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walker are going to petition the government to recognize Esther and others in her situation as a companion animal and entitled to the veterinary care offered to any pet cat or dog.

She Grew Up Poor on a Kansas Farm. Her Memoir Is an Attempt to Understand Why.

The New York Times | Posted on September 13, 2018

Sarah Smarsh’s memoir, “Heartland,” opens with a perplexing ode to an imaginary baby. “I’m glad you never ended up as a physical reality in my life. But we talked for so many years that I don’t guess I’ll ever stop talking to you.” Throughout the book an apparition of the author’s unborn child pops into the prose like Ally McBeal’s Baby Cha-Cha, inducing the otherwise sage Smarsh to write in the inexorably sentimental second person.Smarsh escaped poverty, she believes, because, unlike her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she didn’t become a teenage mom. In part, she says, this was because she was among the first generation of her family to have at least one constant home, dating to when her maternal grandmother, Betty, married her seventh husband, Arnie. (By contrast, Smarsh’s mom, Jeannie, moved 48 times before starting high school.) Such is the reality of poverty. The memoir flickers to life at that home, a humble farmhouse on 160 acres of wheat fields outside Wichita.

Nebraska checking elk carcasses for chronic wasting disease

News Press Now | Posted on September 13, 2018

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is asking for elk hunters' cooperation in testing for chronic wasting disease.The commission's Todd Nordeen says staffers at check stations will be asking hunters to allow removal of lymph nodes from elk carcasses to test for the disease.The tests have about a two-week turn-around, and staffers will notify hunters if their animals tested positive. All test results will be posted to links at the bottom of the commission's website page on the disease.

About 1,300 dogs, roosters seized in western Wisconsin

tmj4 | Posted on September 13, 2018

About 1,300 dogs and roosters have been seized from a property in western Wisconsin after authorities say they uncovered evidence they were used in organized fighting.The Pierce County Sheriff's Office says the animals were living in deplorable conditions. They say the dogs were tied to heavy chains and had injuries and scars associated with fights. The roosters also showed evidence of fighting. Authorities say paraphernalia used in dog and cockfighting was found on the property in the Town of Gilman.

Declines in Child Poverty Continue in 2017

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on September 13, 2018

The official poverty measure indicates that child poverty declined by 1.1 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, according to analyses of the latest American Community Survey data released today. By 2017, child poverty across the nation was still 0.4 percentage point higher than before the Great Recession. Child poverty remained higher in cities and rural places than in the suburbs. For the first time, rates in cities dipped below the pre-recession level, although poverty is still slightly higher in rural and suburban places than in 2007. 

The "S" word: how suicide is devastating Amador County and rural communities

Capital Public Radio | Posted on September 13, 2018

Mental illness isn’t visible. It doesn’t mottle flesh, shrivel muscles or cause a limp. It grows slowly and silently, chipping away at one’s vitality and sense of purpose. And if left unattended for too long, it can cause unbearable pain that drives people to end their own lives. That’s happening with alarming frequency in California’s rural communities, where economic downturn, slim mental health resources, transportation barriers and high rates of substance abuse are creating breeding grounds for suicide.There’s also a culture of silence. In Amador County, a former gold-mining community about an hour southeast of Sacramento, some people don’t even like to say the word suicide. Depression and other mental health issues are considered taboo, shameful. The stigma keeps many people from seeking help.Amador has the third-highest suicide rate of any county in California — nearly three times the state average and twice that of Sacramento. The actual number of suicides is pretty small, and so the rate can fluctuate year-to-year. Despite that, the risk is clear: The top 20 counties on the list are some of the state’s most remote and least populous places.

Rural businesses see high costs, slow internet speeds

Harvest Public Media | Posted on September 13, 2018

Gary Smith has worked at the grain elevator at Okaw Farmer’s Co-op in Lovington, Illinois, for 40 years. On his desk sit two computer screens, where he tracks corn and soybean prices online at the Chicago Board of Trade. As he explained, trade moves fast: “Just bam bam bam, and within a few seconds it could change a nickel or a dime against your favor.”A slow internet connection could mean a loss of hundreds of dollars for a farmer trying to sell his crop. Smith said their internet connection used to be so slow, they’d often just pick up the phone to report the grades and weights of grain they were buying. “Well, you know how a telephone conversation can go,” he said while watching the prices change on the screen. “Well that was just a half-cent now we would have lost on soybeans just by this little conversation right here.”That changed when they got high-speed internet over fiber optic cables a year ago.“Speed is what we’re after, and fiber optic is a lot better,” he said.But fiber or many other high-speed internet options are expensive to bring to rural towns like Lovington, with a population of about 1,100.

Participation in SNAP Varies Across States But Is Generally Decreasing

Amber Waves - USDA | Posted on September 13, 2018

In 2017, the shares of State residents receiving SNAP benefits ranged from 22.1 percent in New Mexico to 5.7 percent in Wyoming. Among seven USDA-defined regions, the Southeast region had the highest average share of residents receiving SNAP benefits at 15.1 percent and the Mountain Plains region had the lowest at 9.6 percent.

USDA Partners with Communities to Support Opioid Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Opportunities in Rural America

USDA | Posted on September 13, 2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with rural communities in 22 states to support opportunities for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery. “With its impact on workforce, quality of life and the economic vitality of rural communities from Maine to California, the opioid epidemic is more than just a matter of public health – it is an issue of rural prosperity,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in planning and building local responses to this monumental challenge.”USDA is investing $10.7 million in 85 projects in 22 states through the Community Facilities program.