Larry Winkelmann has never seen flooding like he has seen this spring. The 68-year-old cow/calf producer from Burton, Texas, located halfway between Houston and Austin, saw about 400 acres of his grassland under water earlier this month. Flooding has been an issue in the region for several months now. Corrie Bowen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Wharton County, said heavy rains in mid-April caused the Colorado and San Bernard Rivers in his county to flow out of their banks.
Crops along those rivers were destroyed and livestock in these areas had to be moved. Wharton Livestock Auction Barn provided their facility as a large animal shelter for horse and cattle owners needing a place to relocate their animals out of potentially flooded areas, he said. Then another roughly 20 inches of rain fell in the Brenham area around Memorial Day, which flooded the Brazos River and created flooding downstream into Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. Brazoria County just began staging down livestock relief efforts in late June, he said.
Disciplinary action taken against Jan Pol, DVM, star of Nat Geo Wild'sThe Incredible Dr. Pol, by the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Association (LARA), in regard to an administrative complaint filed against him in 2014, has been overturned on appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals found 3-0 in favor of Pol, overturning the $500 fine and year probation. The complaint, filed by Eden Myers, DVM, who was concerned about the treatment of a patient featured on the television show, resulted in charges of negligence and incompetence at the administrative hearing. The patient in question, a Boston terrier named Mr. Pigglesworth, had been hit by a car and suffered from lacerations, a broken pelvis and an eye that was hanging from the socket.
During surgery to remove the eye, suture the eye socket closed and suture a cheek laceration, Pol didn't wear sterile surgical attire, according to Myers’ complaint. Also at issue was the fact that Pol’s unlicensed son, Charles, assisted in the surgery and that Pol did not provide intravenous therapy to the dog during the surgical procedure or a warming support in the dog’s postoperative kennel, according to the complaint.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant awards to help provide treatment for the growing opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. Vilsack made the announcement as he hosted a town hall in Abingdon to address the opioid crisis in rural America, the first in a series. In January, President Obama tasked Secretary Vilsack, who is chair of the White House Rural Council, with leading a federal interagency effort focused on rural opioid use.
The announcement is the first part of a new round of DLT projects that are to be announced this summer and includes nearly $1.4 million for five projects in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia to help rural areas address the opioid epidemic.
Prestage Foods of Iowa LLC named Wright County for its new, state-of-the-art pork processing facility. Construction is set to begin in the fall of 2016, pending finalization of county and state approvals, with completion and first shift operations beginning in mid-2018. Initially operating one shift, the plant will employ more than 900 people with a total capital investment of more than $240 million.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by June 2019 whether to protect Monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, per a court settlement reached with conservation groups.The settlement is the result of a federal complaint filed by the Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, which have petitioned the agency to protect Monarch butterflies. The groups say populations have fallen by 80 percent in 20 years and could be wiped out if the government doesn't act. In March a study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that the eastern monarch butterfly population could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate that there is between 11 percent and 57 percent probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years. In April Cornell researchers published a paper indicating that in addition to loss of summer milkweed, monarchs are threatened during the fall migration by multiple factors including habitat fragmentation, drought and insecticides.
This story is part of Divided America, AP's ongoing exploration of the economic, social and political divisions in American society.
From where Peggy Sheahan stands, deep in rural Colorado, the last eight years were abysmal. Otero County, where Sheahan lives, is steadily losing population. Middle-class jobs vanished years ago as pickling and packing plants closed. She's had to cut back on her business repairing broken windshields to help nurse her husband after a series of farm accidents, culminating in his breaking his neck falling from a bale of hay. She collects newspaper clippings on stabbings and killings in the area — one woman's body was found in a field near Sheahan's farm — as heroin use rises. "We are so worse off, it's unbelievable," said Sheahan, 65. In Denver, 175 miles to the northwest, things are going better for Andrea Pacheco. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the 36-year-old could finally marry her partner, Jen Winters, in June. After months navigating Denver's superheated housing market, they snapped up a bungalow at the edge of town. "There's a lot of positive things that happened — obviously the upswing in the economy," said Pacheco, a 36-year-old fundraiser for nonprofits. "We were in a pretty rough place when he started out and I don't know anyone who isn't better off eight years later." But then, she doesn't know Peggy Sheahan, and that makes sense: There are few divides in the United States greater than that between rural and urban places. Town and country represent not just the poles of the nation's two political parties, but different economic realities that are transforming the 2016 presidential election. Cities are trending Democratic and are on an upward economic shift, with growing populations and rising property values. Rural areas are increasingly Republican, steadily shedding population for decades, and as commodity and energy prices drop, increasingly suffering economically. The political divide goes even deeper than simply between the two parties. "The urban-rural split this year is larger than anything we've ever seen," said Scott Reed, a political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who has advised previous GOP campaigns.
The Missouri Department of Conservation banned the hunting of feral hogs on the 1,000 or so conservation areas in the state. Hunters actually make it more difficult for the state to kill feral hogs, the conservation department says. The state tries to lure groups of hogs to a trapping area with cracked corn. Pigs see a free meal and private hunters see a ready-made hunting grounds. Hunters will “take out a couple, and the rest scatter,” said conservation spokesman Joe Jerek. The Missouri conservation staffers prefer to catch and kill pigs in groups, known as “sounders,” not go running around rural Missouri chasing after hogs they thought they were about to catch. Hunters also sometimes illegally catch and move feral hogs around the state in order to give themselves more places and pigs to hunt. Besides being destructive and smart, the pigs are prodigious breeders, and a sounder needs very little time to replenish itself and then some.
Faced with overcrowded prisons and evidence that lengthy sentences don’t deter crime, more states opted this year to revamp sentencing laws and send some people convicted of lesser, nonviolent crimes to local jails, if they’re locked up at all. In an about-face after a half-century of criminal justice policies that favored long-term incarceration, Alaska, Kansas and Maryland this year joined at least 25 other states in reducing sentences or keeping some offenders out of prison. The move to end lengthy prison stays for low-level offenders is one of several steps states took this year in reevaluating criminal justice policies during legislative sessions that have wrapped up in all but a few places. Other measures would help offenders transition back into their communities after release and hold police more accountable.
States that expanded Medicaid saw a significant increase in the percentage of residents who have health insurance, according to a new report from Health and Human Resources. The growth was especially strong in rural areas. States that did not expand Medicaid also saw an increase in the percentage of residents with insurance, but the gains were not as large. The findings are especially important because states that chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act tend to have more rural residents than states that did expand eligibility for the publicly supported insurance program. “The overall coverage gains for rural individuals are particularly striking in light of the fact that uninsured rural individuals are disproportionately concentrated in states that have not expanded Medicaid,” the report says. About two thirds of the 4.5 million rural residents who are uninsured live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Only about half of urban uninsured live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, the report said. “Medicaid expansion in additional states would thus be of particular benefit to rural Americans,” the report concludes. About 117 million Americans live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, according to Census figures, while 192 million live in states that did. The combined rural population of states that didn’t expand Medicaid is about 24 percent. In states that did expand, rural residents constituted about 16 percent of the population.
Is the best representation of rural character to mandate fields remain fields as outlined in Nashville Next, or should we foster development that reflects the intent of preserving a rural look and feel? The owners of Fontanel are challenging a decision by the Metro Planning Commission that prevents them from building a conference hotel on 30 acres next to their existing property. The planning commission, in a complicated session that had it first approve and then later deny the Fontanel request, ruled that adding the 30 acres to the Specific Plan zoning that covers Fontanel’s existing 185-acre properties jeopardizes the rural component of the Nashville Next Plan, particularly 11 parcels planners want to stay undeveloped. Part of the Fontanel plan includes one of those 11 parcels.