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Rural News

Farming plays major role in Obama's community revitalization effort

Agri-Pulse | Posted on June 8, 2016

Farming, food processing and distribution are playing a major role in a community revitalization program designed to lift people out of poverty and reduce crime in special Promise Zones across the country, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said.  One of the nine new Promise Zones announced Monday is in southwest Florida. The area has developable land, an unemployment rate of over 30 percent, and plenty of potential for growth, Vilsack told reporters in a teleconference. Creating an ecotourism industry in the area is one possibility that federal and local officials are looking at, but perhaps an even more lucrative option would be to help establish and promote locally grown food, Vilsack said. Because of the area's new designation as a Promise Zone, it will have special access to a wide variety of federal programs, and USDA is prepared to help new farmers open markets for their crops with schools, farmers markets and restaurants.

Baby Fish Prefer Plastic Over Natural Food

Smithsonian Magazine | Posted on June 8, 2016

Larval perch gorge themselves on microplastics, which seems to be stunting growth and affecting natural instincts.  Earlier this year a report from the World Economic Forum claimed there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 and president Obam signed a ban on plastic microbeads into law late last year. Now, a new study shows that the problem may be more urgent than first thought—some baby fish choose plastic microparticles over natural food, leading to stunted growth and changes in behavior.


Crowdfunding: the Future of Angel Investor Funding? | Posted on June 7, 2016

Crowdfunding could allow mom-and-pop investors to function as angel investors. Angel investors are usually the first or early-stage investors - often friends and family - who put money into start-ups and expect returns after many years when the companies go public. Crowdfunding would allow mom-and-pop investors to function as angel investors, as well.

Rural Disasters- Saving Lives and Livelihoods

Daily Yonder | Posted on June 7, 2016

Rural disasters often mobilize two self-described groups: “The red-light team” from the official ranks of fire, emergency medicine and law enforcement systems. And “the Carhartt and cowboy-hat army,” including agriculture producers and their children, friends, and relatives serving officially and unofficially as emergency responders. Both groups bring critical knowledge and skills. An inter-agency effort that includes land-grant university Extension offices is helping these groups work together to achieve better results.

Coordinating the strengths of emergency managers and agriculture producers is like stacking hay – you have to do it because there is a need.  A USDA Extension Service program is helping emergency responders and agricultural producers work together. In 2002, land-grant university Extension programs introduced the Strengthening Community Agro-Security Preparedness (SCAP) curriculum in cooperation with USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The program has led to better communication, coordination and training. Emergency managers and ag producers working with SCAP facilitators have drafted or updated agriculture disaster and other plans in 311 of the nation’s counties.

How the BLM is overhauling land-use planning

High Country News | Posted on June 7, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management is unveiling a new approach to planning how to manage its 245 million acres, one that invites diverse viewpoints much earlier in the multi-year process. Bringing people with different perspectives together is one of the goals of Planning 2.0, the BLM’s proposed new strategy for developing resource management plans, the big-picture blueprints that guide the agency’s on-the-ground decisions. It’s the first time in 33 years that the BLM has overhauled its planning procedures. The agency hopes to democratize planning — making it more collaborative, inclusive, transparent and reflective of landscape-wide priorities.

Elk, not bison, are spreading Brucellosis near Yellowstone

High Country News | Posted on June 7, 2016

Since Wyoming first established its feedgrounds in 1912, thousands of elk have munched taxpayer-funded rations every winter. Conservationists have long warned that the crowding could spread brucellosis, which causes miscarriages. However, since state and federal agencies have long assumed that bison, not elk, transmit the disease to livestock, they’ve focused their attention on the bison, restricting their winter migration out of Yellowstone National Park and culling hundreds each year. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners found that elk — not bison — are the most likely source of brucellosis outbreaks in cattle around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. DNA analysis revealed that strains found in feedground elk were much more widespread than the strain found in bison. “We found no direct links (of transmission) from bison to livestock,”

Many Northeast, Midwest States Face Shrinking Workforce

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on June 7, 2016

In many parts of the Northeast and Midwest, population growth is slowing at an unprecedented rate as people are getting older, women are having fewer children, and more people are moving out than in — and that signals big economic trouble ahead. The population of prime working-age adults, ages 25 to 54, will decline in 16 states, most of which are in the Northeast and Midwest, from 2010 to 2040, according to a Stateline analysis of projections released by the University of Virginia’s Demographics Research Group in the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Maine, Vermont and West Virginia will see their working-age populations drop more than 10 percent. Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin will see theirs fall more than 5 percent. State officials in Illinois, Maine and Pennsylvania say they’re already seeing holes in the workforce as baby boomers near retirement. To stem the trend, they are trying to ensure that young people are educated and trained for existing industries, and to help bolster the sectors that show promise of expanding.

The Graying of Rural America

The Atlantic | Posted on June 3, 2016

As young people increasingly move to cities, what happens to the people and places they leave behind? Over the past two decades, as cities have become job centers that attract diverse young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated. Between 2010 and 2014, rural areas lost an average of 33,000 people a year. Today, just 19 percent of Americans live in areas the Census department classifies as rural, down from 44 percent in 1930. But roughly one-quarter of seniors live in rural communities, and 21 of the 25 oldest counties in the United States are rural. Over the past two decades, as cities have become job centers that attract diverse young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated. Population decline in rural America is especially concentrated in the West. There’s a lot of wide-open land there, but most people, and young people especially, live in the cities. Half the jobs in Oregon, for example, are now in three counties in and around Portland.  Almost two-thirds of Utah’s jobs are along the Wasatch Front, which runs from Salt Lake City to Provo. Those who live there tend to like it, but they’re aging, and there aren’t enough jobs to keep younger people around. So kids and grandkids move to the cities, coming back on holidays, inheriting their parents’ homes and leaving them empty, wondering what will happen to the towns their parents say used to thrive. This is how rural America dies: not with a bang but a whimper.

Firefighters, first responders welcome evacuees back to Fort McMurray

The Star | Posted on June 2, 2016

the firefighters and first responders hailed as heroes for saving most of the city and safeguarding its people as they fled a monster wildfire in May parked their rigs and hung banners to welcome the oil-town’s gritty residents as they headed back home along Highway 63.  As the first residents arrived, passing a huge Canadian flag hung between the ladders of two fire trucks parked on one bridge, the Fort Mac Evacuees saw for the first time the devastation.  They saw destroyed areas covered with a white substance sprayed to keep toxic ash from blowing about. On arrival, they found re-entry information booklets in plastic bags hanging from doorknobs, 36-page instruction manuals for cleaning and disposal of belongings and property ruined by fire, smoke and ash.

Canada’s $6.9 Billion Wildfire Is the Size of Delaware—and Still Out of Control

Bloomberg | Posted on June 2, 2016

Fort McMurray lies in a forested valley 270 miles northeast of Edmonton, beneath the upside-down Y formed by the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers.