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Rural News

E-Commerce Is a Boon for Rural America, but It Comes With a Price

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on September 13, 2016

Providing small-town residents with big-city conveniences is costly for retailers and delivery services.  E-commerce hasn’t just reached rural America, it is transforming it by giving small-town residents an opportunity to buy staples online at a cheaper price than the local supermarket. It also provides remote areas with big-city conveniences and the latest products. Contemporary fashion, such as Victoria Secret bathing suits or Tory Burch ballet flats are easily shipped. Consumers increasingly are shopping online instead of driving, often long distances, to stores. Online shopping also brings with it deals and new entrepreneurial opportunities. These consumers, however, are the most expensive to serve for both retailers and delivery companies. To offset the cost, UPS and FedEx charge an extra $4 per package for remote residential deliveries. The prevalence of free shipping to consumers and the need to price items the same online and in stores, typically leaves retailers bearing this additional cost. It is a double-whammy for retailers, which also are losing in-store customers to e-commerce. Wal-Mart built its business by combining muscular buying power and a vast transportation network to provide a wide variety of items and low prices to small towns.

Center for Rural Pennsylvania | Posted on September 12, 2016

This installment of Rural Snapshot looks at poverty in Pennsylvania. For the analysis, the Center used the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s 2016 federal poverty level (FPL) income numbers, which are based on household income and household size. In 2016, the poverty level for a family/household of three is $20,160.

Wisconsin farm group to offer aid on bad wells

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on September 9, 2016

A farm group in northeastern Wisconsin announced plans on Wednesday to supply water to residents with tainted wells in Kewaunee County, where the practice of manure spreading — especially by large-scale farms with thousands of cattle — has been a contentious political topic.  In an unprecedented step, Peninsula Pride Farms will provide water and a subsidy for a system to treat it in selected cases — regardless of whether the source of contamination is from animal waste or another form of pollution. The offer, which involves some public funds, is a tacit acknowledgment of agriculture's role in polluted wells in the region. But experts have said that farms are not the sole source of contamination in a county where nearly 30% of the wells tested over a 12-year period showed unsafe levels of bacteria and or nitrates. Peninsula Pride Farms' offer applies only to wells that can show evidence of contamination by E. coli, a bacteria that in virulent forms can cause cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Records show about two dozen such wells have tested positive for E. coli over the past decade.

A tenth of the world's wilderness lost since the 1990s

Science Daily | Posted on September 9, 2016

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology show catastrophic declines in wilderness areas around the world over the last 20 years. They demonstrate alarming losses comprising a tenth of global wilderness since the 1990s -- an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon. The Amazon and Central Africa have been hardest hit.

Developing a workforce from the ground up

The Californian | Posted on September 8, 2016

Recognizing these pathways to promotion, the California Strawberry Commission created a program that exists nowhere else. More than 3,000 employees are trained annually through regular workshops and field days for ranch managers, crew supervisors and farmers. These workshops provide continuing education and skills development for strawberry farming’s mid-level management workers: nearly all promoted from harvest worker positions.  California has the most comprehensive farm labor protections in the country. In addition to federal labor regulations, California is the only state that has a regulatory and enforcement infrastructure, including a system of regional offices throughout the state. Beginning with California’s requirements for supervisor training related to sexual harassment prevention and heat illness prevention, the commission’s training program expanded to recognize the need to provide additional knowledge, understanding and skills, supporting the first steps of professional development for these mid-level managers.


U of I lab could provide boost to regional economy

Herald Review | Posted on September 8, 2016

With funding available for a new bioprocessing research lab at the University of Illinois, officials in Decatur see an opportunity to provide an economic boost across Central Illinois.State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said Tuesday the state is investing $26 million in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab, which will complement the production and transportation capacity of Decatur and the surrounding area's corn and soybean production. Rose said the lab, which is being built on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, aims to produce new technologies in renewable fuel and energy on a large scale.

The Biggest Danger to Migratory Birds in 2016? CatsThe Biggest Danger to Migratory Birds in 2016? Cats

Iowa Public Radio | Posted on September 8, 2016

"The biggest threat? Cats. A non-native species to North America, free ranging cats kill over 2 billion birds a year. Far more than other human related deaths which include collisions, chemicals, and hunting." 

Human development impacts pathogen load in coastal waters

University of California | Posted on September 8, 2016

Coastal waters near heavy human development are more likely to receive land-based “pathogen pollution,” which can include viruses, bacteria and parasites, according to a recent study from the University of California, Davis. The study said higher levels of rainfall and development increase the risk of disease-causing organisms flowing to the ocean.

Veterinarians, farmers, firefighters, police - most dangerous jobs

Business Insider | Posted on September 7, 2016

If the biggest complaints you have about your job or workplace are the ancient computers, uncomfortable room temperature, or annoying coworkers, you've got it pretty good. In the US, thousands of people are injured or killed at work each year because of the dangerous nature of their jobs. According to a new report from jobs site CareerCast, "Some of the most vital careers to upholding and maintaining the very fabric of American society are also among the most dangerous."

Where the parties stand on rural broadband

Daily Yonder | Posted on September 7, 2016

The private sector does not have a stellar record of timely technology deployment in rural America. Those of us who get our electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority or a rural electric cooperative know that public, quasi-public, and private partnerships are essential. That path made telephone service much more accessible. Neither technology is universally available, but it is clear that without the government lending a hand, much of rural America would be off all the grids. Private enterprise and the government need to work together to find a way to get more rural Americans online.  It will take innovative thinking, ruling out nothing, to get high speed internet to rural communities across the country. Let’s work to make sure that both parties remember that strong communities are connected communities, and that access to the economy requires access to the internet.