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Rural News

Veterinarian works to stop rabies in New Brunswick

CBC.CA | Posted on July 14, 2016

The provincial government has doubled the number of baited oral vaccines for wildlife to 500,000. It plans to air drop and hand deliver the vaccines over the next two months to Carleton County, Saint John, and Fredericton and Chartlotte County. The vaccines, with capsules that smell of maple, will be coated in fat, marshmallow and sugar and will be placed where raccoons and skunks hang out. When eaten, the animal becomes immune to rabies in about two weeks.

Drones are the blackfooted ferret's last hope

WIRED | Posted on July 14, 2016

The flea-borne sylvatic plague has wiped out most of the ferret’s favorite snack—prairie dogs—and when the dogs die, so do the ferrets. So the US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to use drones to sprinkle peanut butter-flavored plague vaccines over the prairie dog’s habitat. If it gets approved, the agency wants to start testing the method in UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Montana, where they’ve been trying to reestablish a ferret population for more than two decades.  “It’s a good year if it takes more than two hands to count them all,” says USFW biologist Randy Matchett. “As of a month ago, there were seven ferrets on the site and many, many thousands of prairie dogs.” It takes 100 acres of prairie dogs to support a female ferret and her litter for a year. On a 1,200-acre lot like UL Bend, 12 ferret families could flourish—once the USFW gets rid of the darn plague, that is. That’s why US Geological Survey epizootiologist Tonie Rocke and a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin concocted the world’s first prairie dog vaccine back in the early 2000s. You wish you got these vaccines as a kid: They’re delivered orally, via delicious, peanut butter-smothered bait. (“It’s organic,” adds Rocke.) And while they don’t have the hard coating of an M&M, they’re roughly the same size and shape, with the texture of a chewy energy bar. Prairie dogs are big fans, eating up to 90 percent of the goodies in field tests.

Pace of U.S. Health Spending Increased in 2015, With Further Rise Expected

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 14, 2016

Growth in U.S. health-care spending quickened slightly in 2015 and will continue to rise at a moderate pace over the next decade, but not at the fast clip seen in the 20-year period before the recession, federal actuaries said. Spending on all health care is estimated to have grown 5.5% in 2015 compared with 5.3% growth the previous year. Growth is expected to dip to a slightly lower rate of 4.8% in 2016, according to actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Their report, published in the journal Health Affairs, projects spending growth will reach 6% in 2025.  The pickup in the past two years follows five consecutive years in which average spending growth through 2013 was less than 4% annually, the lowest rates since the government began tracking health-care spending in the 1960s.

Wild hogs can now be shot from helicopters in North Carolina

The Charlotte Observer | Posted on July 14, 2016

Now wild hogs can be culled by aircraft in North Carolina — provided they are shot by federal or state wildlife control officers.  The 2016 North Carolina Farm Act, which lawmakers passed July 1, contains two sentences making the change.

A look at how and why North Dakota became a leader in deployment of fiber optic Internet

CSG Midwest | Posted on July 7, 2016

A fiber optic connection is considered the “gold standard” for quality, high-speed Internet access, and in the Midwest, it’s in pretty short supply. Except in North Dakota. In the region’s most sparsely populated state, 60 percent of the households, including those on farms in far-flung areas, have fiber. (That compares to 24 percent in the Midwest, where most of the existing fiber networks serve urban areas.) In all, North Dakota ranks fifth in the nation in fiber access. This is amazing enough, considering many of the obstacles typically cited as responsible for the dearth of high-speed technologies in rural parts of the Midwest — for example, the high costs of serving low-density areas.  But the story of North Dakota’s prominence in fiber access is also a testament to entrepreneurship in the nation’s heartland, and perhaps a model for the rest of the Midwest.

Kansas extends ‘angel investor’ tax credit; North Dakota mulls changes to its program

CSG Midwest | Posted on July 7, 2016

Lawmakers in two Midwestern states have given close scrutiny in recent months to a targeted tax credit that has become an increasingly popular policy tool for trying to help entrepreneurs and startup companies. Known as “angel investor” tax credits, these incentives encourage investment in early-stage firms by mitigating some of the potential loss if a company fails. Most states in the Midwest have some form of this tax credit. Kansas’ 11-year-old program was on track to sunset this year, but passage of SB 149 extended it for five years. As a result, individuals can receive a tax credit of 50 percent on their investment in a business that has been in operation for less than 10 years; has gross revenue of less than $5 million; and has an innovative and proprietary technology, product or service.

The Fourth of July, Brought to You by Belgium, Brazil and China

Bloomberg | Posted on July 7, 2016

The Fourth of July is coming up. What could be more American than to pop a cold Budweiser, put a hot dog on the grill, slather it with Heinz ketchup, watch the kids chase the Good Humor Ice Cream truck, and maybe catch the latest summer blockbuster?  Well, technically, you'd be drinking a beer owned by a Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate, your hot dog may well have come from Smithfield Foods, a Chinese-owned company, the Heinz ketchup partly owned by a Brazilain private equity group, the Good Humor Ice Cream truck part of a British-Dutch conglomerate, and the movie house you visit will likely belong to Dalian Wanda, a Chinese real estate giant that controls more U.S cinema screens than any American company.

The True Cost of Rural Hospital Closures

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 7, 2016

After 66 years in business, my hometown hospital recently closed its doors to patients. Gone is the emergency room, skilled nursing facility, lab, radiology, and physical therapy services — as well as 67 full-time jobs.  Meanwhile, in the past six years. 72 rural hospitals in the U.S. have closed, including nine already in 2016.  One in three rural hospitals is at risk of closing, and according to the National Rural Health Association’s Journal of Rural Health, closure rates have increased 600 percent in the put five years.

Across the country, small towns are literally losing their lifelines. What gets lost in this story is what these closures mean lot the towns whose hospitals are shuttered. Sure. It’s obvious that jobs, public safety and community institutions are at stake. But what are we really doing by letting that institutions die? Where is this all going?  The first loss is a sense of safety and security, one that is backed up by hard evidence. A 2014 study in Health Affairs showed that the death rates for patients in towns where the ER recently closed increased 5 percent across the board and 15 percent when patients had a heart attack or stroke.

Broadband Access: We are all in the middle of somewhere

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 7, 2016

Fast Internet access is the critical element in building healthier rural economies that create opportunity and improve quality of life. Here are some ways to get your community focused on the need for speed. Lack of Leadership is a deal breaker. Transitioning to the digital age implies change, and many rural communities are not thrilled about change. It is critical to have at least one trusted local champion. The local champion or champions should introduce the concept and work with the community to drive the efforts. [USDA] Extension [Service] and other partners should step in when needed to educate and support, but the community should be the driver.In my experience, rural communities have recruited and/or partnered with local champions in different ways. In some, the mayor is the main driving force. In others, it is the local chamber of commerce or economic developer. Extension personnel have served as the main change agents in other communities. One rural community even formed an “intelligent community” council consisting of five to eight community leaders. If the will and motivation exist, ways to get things done will be found.

Farmers, Fisherman have highest suicide rates

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

Farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen have the highest suicide rate in the U.S., while librarians and educators have the lowest, according to a large study that found enormous differences across occupations. The study didn't explore the reasons behind the differences, but researchers found the highest suicide rates in manual laborers who work in isolation and face unsteady employment. High rates were also seen in carpenters, miners, electricians and people who work in construction. Mechanics were close behind. Dentists, doctors and other health care professionals had an 80 percent lower suicide rate than the farmers, fishermen and lumberjacks. Suicide is the nation's 10th leading cause of death. Public attention often focuses on teens and college students, but the highest numbers and rates are in middle-aged adults. Suicide is far more common in males, and the rankings largely reflect the male suicide rates for each group.