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Rural businesses see high costs, slow internet speeds

Gary Smith has worked at the grain elevator at Okaw Farmer’s Co-op in Lovington, Illinois, for 40 years. On his desk sit two computer screens, where he tracks corn and soybean prices online at the Chicago Board of Trade. As he explained, trade moves fast: “Just bam bam bam, and within a few seconds it could change a nickel or a dime against your favor.”A slow internet connection could mean a loss of hundreds of dollars for a farmer trying to sell his crop.

Farmers reeling from record year of wildfires

In the era of climate change, record-setting fires are the new norm — something farmers are learning to adapt to. Delbar says it will be weeks if not months before the USDA compiles a comprehensive list of fire damage on Mendocino and Lake County farms, an area known for its vineyards, orchards and organic vegetable farms, in addition to a handful of large ranches.

Is the second farm crisis upon us?

Joe Schroeder works as a farm advocate for Farm Aid, where he answers calls to the group’s farmer hotline. The calls, which are up 30 percent over last year, range from routine questions about navigating federal programs and exploring credit options to dire pleas for help from farmers who have run out of ways to keep their businesses solvent. He has heard from three or four suicidal farmers each month this summer. Schroeder talks callers in crisis through Chapter 12 bankruptcy and sends out $500 checks to help them buy groceries and get the lights turned back on.

African swine fever outbreak in China major threat to US pork

News that China broke with African swine fever (ASF) generated great concern for many in the US swine industry, including Scott Dee, DVM, Pipestone Veterinary Services. “This is a very challenging situation,” Dee told attendees at a recent swine-health conference in Macomb, Illinois. “ASFV is a very tough virus…and difficult to clean up should it get into a premise.”No treatment or vaccines are available for ASF, which can cause up to 100% mortality. Surviving swine continue to shed the virus. The virus only affects swine and generally spreads through oronasal contact and not aerosol.

Participation in SNAP Varies Across States But Is Generally Decreasing

In 2017, the shares of State residents receiving SNAP benefits ranged from 22.1 percent in New Mexico to 5.7 percent in Wyoming. Among seven USDA-defined regions, the Southeast region had the highest average share of residents receiving SNAP benefits at 15.1 percent and the Mountain Plains region had the lowest at 9.6 percent.

USDA Partners with Communities to Support Opioid Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Opportunities in Rural America

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with rural communities in 22 states to support opportunities for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery. “With its impact on workforce, quality of life and the economic vitality of rural communities from Maine to California, the opioid epidemic is more than just a matter of public health – it is an issue of rural prosperity,” Hazlett said.

Bill Pound NCSL leadership for more than 30 years to step down

After leading NCSL for more than three decades, Pound tells Governing in an exclusive interview that he will step down by the time of the group's next annual meeting in August 2019. He will be leaving at a moment when the group faces a changing political landscape. "In the early years, it was hard sometimes to tell the Democrats from the Republicans," Pound says.

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