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

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.

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

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.

The Road from Farm to Market

Consumer demand for regionally produced food is on the rise. But transportation and distribution logistics for mid-size shippers, distributors and farmers can be tricky. These supply chain partners are looking for ways to more efficiently move products from Wisconsin’s farms to markets, while upholding many of their customers’ sustainability values.  That’s where the CALS-based Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) comes in.

Breeding for Flavor

Wisconsin scientists are breeding new varieties of produce that not only are delicious, but also will thrive in organic growing systems. And in a new collaboration called “Seed to Kitchen,” they’re partnering with chefs and farmers to help determine what works best.

Monsanto Mum on Bayer Deal as Profit, Sales Slip

Earnings hurt by glyphosate pricing declines, delayed product launch and other headwinds. Mr. Grant said that Monsanto’s “growth prospects with or without a deal remain strong” despite a “low point” in the agricultural business that has pressured profits for the world’s top sellers of seeds, pesticides, tractors and fertilizer.

Cargill selling US ag-retail business to Agrium

Cargill Inc. has agreed to sell its 18 ag-retail outlets in the U.S. to Calgary-based Agrium Inc., the largest retail seller of crop inputs in North America. The outlets, located in Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan, have annual revenues of over $150 million. 

The True Cost of Rural Hospital Closures

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.

Broadband Access: We are all in the middle of somewhere

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.

Agriculture community also affected by oil and gas slowdown

The 2013 floods in Weld County caused significant damage to Sylvester’s property. If it weren’t for the oil and gas wells on his land — and the monthly checks he receives from the leases — Sylvester said his family never would have been able to make the necessary repairs to keep their house livable.  Farmers and ranchers often use oil and gas royalties as fallback money when things go wrong, like during natural disasters or when commodity prices fall.


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