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Rural News

Modern farm families steeped in core values

Ottawa Herald | Posted on August 17, 2017

Seems some people outside of agriculture routinely try to define the family farm. These same folks tend to question corporate farming whether family owned or not.Let’s look at a Kansas family farm. In our state, many are based on owner operation. This means the rights and responsibilities of ownership are vested in an entrepreneur who lives and works the farm for a living.The second key to defining the family farming system would include independence. Independence implies financing from within its own resources using family labor, management and intellect to build equity and cash flow that will retire the mortgage, preferably in the lifetime of the owner.Economic dispersion is the next important step in defining what a family farm should entail. Economic dispersion would include large numbers of efficient-sized farms operating with equal access to competitive markets worldwide.No family farm would be complete without a family core. This family centered operation must have a family who lives in harmony within the workplace. All family members share responsibilities, and the children learn the vocation of their parents.

White House opioid commission to Trump: ‘Declare a national emergency’ on drug overdoses

The Washington Post | Posted on August 15, 2017

The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report on Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.” “With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Northwest wildfire outlook turns for the worse

Capital Press | Posted on August 15, 2017

Northwest fire officials said Tuesday that record-dry conditions, continued heat and incoming lightning storms threaten to escalate a worsening fire season. Some 17 large fires were burning in Oregon and Washington, with more lightning expected to strike the dried-out region over the next several days. Idaho officials reported a dozen active fires of more than 1,000 acres.“We’re moving from a moderate to a high level of activity across the state,” said Washington Department of Natural Resources wildfire manager Bob Johnson, chairman of the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group.

Fed: Local food movement can spur job growth

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has released research examining how the growing popularity of locally sourced food can be harnessed to boost economic opportunities for both rural and urban communities. Regional food systems are a promising avenue for economic growth through creation and enhancement of jobs and businesses, Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in a foreword to the research. Those opportunities can advance the financial security of low- and moderate-income households and communities, they said.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose

Voluntary pet insurance on an upward trajectory

Benefit News | Posted on August 15, 2017

Employees with pets are happy employees — data shows that pet ownership reduces stress levels and the risk of heart attacks and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels — and employees who don’t have to worry about coming up with money to pay for their furry friends’ often-costly medical bills are happier still. Hence the rise of the pet insurance benefit, which is steadily gaining ground on the voluntary menu. In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%.

Modern small scale farming- could it sustain us?

Strong Towns | Posted on August 15, 2017

Could any of our communities actually survive on local food alone? Could we ever get to a point where local food makes up most of our diets and where local farmers are successfully supplying that? The more I study this, the more I realize it would be pretty darn tough, if not impossible. But, being an apartment dweller who hasn't had the opportunity to spend much time on farms, I wanted to talk to some real farmers to find out if this rang true from their perspective. Were they supporting themselves with their farm income? Could their harvest (and the harvests of their neighboring farmers) feed a community? I interviewed six farmers from around the country (as well as two people who serve in roles supporting local farmers) in both urban and rural settings, growing both produce and animals. All of them opened their farms in the last twenty years and most started in the last ten years. Between the high start-up costs, physical labor required, a regulatory environment geared for corporate farms and the public’s expectations about how much food should cost, it’s very hard to make it as a small-scale farmer. This was clear in my conversations with farmers and it bears out in the statistics as well. Mark and Kena Guttridge opened their family farm, Ollin Farms, in Longmont, CO, just over a decade ago. They spoke honestly about the economic challenges of their profession, even ten years after getting started: Kena: We do have other jobs because economically we cannot survive with the farm. It sounds beautiful and amazing but if we do just that, the farm would probably close.

CA: Cap-and-trade extension included fire fee repeal

Capital Press | Posted on August 10, 2017

The bill to extend California’s cap-and-trade program through 2030, which was signed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown, included the repeal of a controversial fee charged to rural landowners for fire protection.

Broadband economic benefits: why invest in broadband infrastructure?

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 10, 2017

The long-term economic benefits of providing broadband access to every rural community exceed the cost of building that infrastructure. And it isn’t even close. A 2017 study by Ohio State University Swank Program on Rural-Urban Policy estimated the economic benefits of providing broadband access to unserved households in Ohio. To calculate these estimates, the Ohio State study used customer surplus– what a consumer is willing to pay for a service compared to what they are actually paying. In other words, consumer surplus is the average amount of value a consumer receives from Internet service above and beyond the price. In non-metropolitan counties, about 6.2 million households (35.4 percent) lack access to 25/3 fixed broadband. These rural residents are missing out on $11.6 billion per year in economic benefits or $113 billion over fifteen years assuming full coverage and adoption.On the other hand, the most conservative of scenarios, which assumes full access but only 20 percent adoption, would generate an impact of $4.5 billion per year or $43.8 billion over fifteen years in the U.S. In non-metropolitan counties, this same scenario would yield $2.3 billion annually or $22.7 billion over fifteen years.

SNAP plays outsized role in the economy of rural grocery stores

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 10, 2017

As a new report shows that rural households are about 25% more likely than urban ones to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rural grocers say the federal nutrition program is an important part of the revenue that keeps their stores in business. “The way I see it, SNAP is one of the best government programs out there,” said Kip Yoss, who owns and operates two independent grocery stores in rural West Missouri. “It really helps us pay our utilities, our workers, and keep the doors open.” Yoss said his stores earn about 11% of sales from SNAP, which provides a cash-like benefit to low-income Americans that can be spent only on food items. Other stores Yoss works with in harder-hit rural areas earn as much as 20-30% of their revenue from SNAP, he said. SNAP accounts for 9% of grocery sales nationally, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Sixteen percent of nonmetropolitan households used SNAP (formerly called Food Stamps), according to a new study from the Food Research & Action Center using American Community Survey data for 2011-15. The metropolitan rate was 3 points lower, at 13%. (If you’re interested in seeing SNAP usage in your county, the report includes an interactive map as well as state-by-state information.)