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Rural News

Top States for Manufacturing – 2017

Agracel | Posted on July 26, 2018

This week, we are looking at NAM’s state data report from 2017 that looks at which states are employing the most manufacturing workers. Below are the top 10. New York – The state employs 451,200. The state is focusing on advanced materials, with this sector bringing in $5 billion. South Carolina – The state employs 460,200 and is the country’s top car exporter. Its manufacturing industry accounted for more than 18% of its gross domestic product and contributed over $56 billion to the state’s economic growth.Indiana – The state employs 516,900 and is ranked third nationally in vehicle manufacturing with 20% of those in manufacturing working in this sector.Pennsylvania – The state employs 566,000, across 14,000 companies. The industry ranks 8th nationally for its manufacturing output with a GDP of $84 billion.Illinois – The state employs 571,800 and the second largest food processing cluster in the country. Michigan – The state employs 598,800. The state is home to 81 global auto suppliers’ N.A. headquarters or tech centers.Ohio – Ohio employs 687,400 and is a leader in the production of composites, plastics and rubber. The state also ranks first in plastics and paper producing $106 billion in output in those areas.Texas – The state employs 848,100 in manufacturing. California – The state employs 1,284,100. This figure represents 8% of the workforce. Manufacturing accounts for 11% of the total output in the state.

States Try to Silence Robocalls, But They’re Worse Than Ever

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on July 26, 2018

Robocalls — those nettlesome autodial telephone calls from both scammers and legitimate businesses — skyrocketed in the first half of 2018, and have prompted the most complaints to federal and most state enforcement officials of any consumer topic in recent years. But as much as top state law enforcement officers would love to go after the robocallers, who often operate outside the law, the combined hurdles of technology, economics and geography make the job difficult.Robocalls jumped dramatically nationwide this year, from 2.9 billion in January to 4.1 billion in June, according to YouMail Inc., a company that tracks robocalls and sells software to block them.Unwanted calls are the biggest complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, making up about 60 percent of complaints the agency gets. Robocalls also are the top complaint at the Federal Trade Commission, which in fiscal 2017 received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints.

Broadband: FCC map vs experience on the ground

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 26, 2018

To construct its current map of who has broadband, the FCC relies on the self-reported data of Internet service providers. Another set of data developed through an open-source speed test indicates that the typical Internet user has a much different online experience.

Telehealth changes could help rural seniors age in place

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 26, 2018

Telemedicine providers can’t catch senior citizens when they fall. But health services delivered over broadband can make it possible for seniors to live independently for longer periods of time.

Trump has no idea what his tariffs have unleashed for farmers

The New York Times | Posted on July 26, 2018

The cost of being shut out of overseas markets for soybeans, beef, pork, chicken and more will be in the billions. Once those markets are gone, they will be difficult to recover. Commodity prices continue to drop, and good weather suggests an excellent crop is in the making, which will drive prices further down. Brazil is ready to step in with increased soybean production, and China has already shifted its purchasing power there. Rural America is about to undergo a major demographic shift. President Trump didn’t start it, but he has accelerated a crisis that might have taken a generation or two to play out. Now it might take only a few years.Rural America is going to be hollowed out very quickly. Farms will become consolidated, and towns that are already in trouble will certainly die.Iowa’s farmers are aging, and younger farmers aren’t replacing them proportionately. Sixty percent of Iowa farmland is owned by people 65 years or older, and 35 percent of farmland is owned by people 75 or older. Another casualty: our community banks. As farms get larger, farm loans are less likely to be local. A big operation with farms in dozens of counties that maybe even cross state lines probably won’t use local banks for credit. At a certain point, populations won’t be enough to support rural hospitals and clinics, and they, too, will be gone. Rural hospitals are one of the major employers in the community. Even if you have a good manufacturing company in town, if you lose the hospital, they won’t be able to attract the employees they need.

Detroit Shows How Cuts to SNAP Affect an Entire Community

Civil eats | Posted on July 25, 2018

On the east side of Detroit, 42-year-old Roquesha O’Neal is one potential target of cuts to SNAP. She relies on the program to take care of herself and her disabled, teenage son. She receives a monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check worth $750 for her son and makes an additional $150 a month babysitting and doing odd jobs for neighbors. After rent and utilities, her family is left with about $500 a month to live on. Even with SNAP, putting food on the table can still feel like a full-time job: SNAP recipients only receive on average $1.40 a meal. O’Neal gets even less than this, feeding herself and her son on $205 a month or roughly $1.13 per meal, per person. And this doesn’t include her daughter’s son, for whom she provides free childcare and also has to feed.O’Neal has had to be resourceful, visiting the local soup kitchen run by Capuchin Friars and “bargain shopping” with neighbors, making bulk purchases of staples like bread and rice to share. Luckily, O’Neal has a branch of the Aldi grocery store chain nearby, but she has to take public transportation or carpool with neighbors to get to the soup kitchen because she doesn’t have a car. She says that bus fare is her largest monthly expense.

A Company Owner Asks His Customers for Understanding—and Help—After Raising Prices in the Wake of Trump’s Steel Tariffs

The New Yorker | Posted on July 25, 2018

On July 2nd, a month after the Trump Administration imposed a twenty-five-per-cent tariff on steel imported from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union, Stuart Speyer sent a carefully worded letter to his customers. Speyer is the president of Tennsco Corporation, a “storage and filing solutions” manufacturer based outside of Nashville, in Dickson, Tennessee. ”Ninety-nine per cent” of the steel that Speyer buys, he recently explained to me, is manufactured by domestic suppliers, including Nucor. This year, Nucor posted second-quarter profits twice as large as those it made during the same period in 2017—and 2017 had already been a great year for the steel business. Trump’s tariffs on imported steel are helping Nucor and others keep their prices high: a boon for steelmakers but a major concern for steel consumers like Tennsco.  Steel usually accounts for a third of Tennsco’s manufacturing costs—though, for some products, it’s closer to half. Last year, Speyer said, he bought forty thousand tons of steel. “For every penny the price of steel goes up per pound, we pay eight hundred thousand dollars more for steel annually,” he told me. “And now we’re talking a fifteen-cent increase for hot roll and ten cents for cold roll”—the two types of steel he uses. “The cost we have to largely pass on is over ten million dollars. We can’t absorb it.”The letter that Speyer sent out in early July announced “a fairly substantial increase, a double-digit increase,” as Speyer described it to me, of the price of Tennsco’s products. But he also wanted his customers—many of whom he’s had for years—to understand the cause of his price increases, and what it would take for prices to come back down.

Cancer concerns, environmental testing in Johnson County prompts more actio

Fox 59 | Posted on July 25, 2018

Parents raising concerns over the number of child cancer cases in Johnson County are now getting attention from local, state and federal officials following the release of environmental testing results. The results showed high levels of TCE, PCE and radon in some homes near two sites in Franklin raising concerns about environmental contamination, and are causing worry for some families about their own health.

Greenfield won't be last Iowa town to have drinking water threatened by toxic blue-green algae, environmentalists say

Des Moines Register | Posted on July 25, 2018

Greenfield is the first city in Iowa to warn residents against drinking its water, fearing contamination from toxic blue-green algae. But it won't be the last, environmentalists say.Dozens of Iowa cities and towns rely on lakes, rivers and reservoirs at risk for cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — to source their drinking water.Tests on Greenfield's water came back clean for toxins Wednesday, enabling officials to lift a bottled-water order.

Farmers on the line as substation fire ravages wheat country

| Posted on July 24, 2018

Over just three days this week, they lost thousands of acres of wheat. “The thing you have to remember, this is our neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not a subdivision, you’re not close together. You don’t have close neighbors like you might in a city.”The amber wheat was on the cusp of harvest, and the Kortges said it looked like their best crop yet. Now they have barren land covered in a layer of smoldering, black ash.“There’s a huge economic loss, loss of history,” said Brad McManigal, Cynthia’s brother.He’s spent much of this week fighting fire alongside his friends and neighbors. Some have lost barns, their livestock, and homesteads that have been here for hundreds of years.“Every single neighbor lost something in this fire,” said Cynthia Kortge. “Every single one.”Few families have lost as much as the Kortges. Their relative, John Ruby, died in the fire trying to protect the farm land that means so much to life in this part of the state.