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Rural News

Vermont Governor To Study Whether To Sign Drug Importation Bill

Northeast Public Radio | Posted on May 10, 2018

Republican Governor Phil Scott plans to study a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature that would set up a first-in-the-nation system to allow the state to import prescription drugs from Canada before deciding whether he will sign it. Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said Wednesday the governor supports the goal of making prescription drugs more affordable, but he has questions about the implementation of the bill.The National Academy for State Health Policy says Vermont is the first state in the nation to approve the importation of less costly prescription drugs from Canada.

NOAA considering letting fishermen take endangered skate

The Sacamento Bee | Posted on May 10, 2018

Federal fishing managers are considering allowing commercial fishermen to take a species of endangered skate that is currently prohibited. Fishermen catch skates for use as food and bait on both coasts. They are currently prohibited from possessing barndoor skates, or bringing them to shore. Barndoor skates are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says proposed changes to the skate fishery include an allowance for limited possession of barndoor skates. The new rules weren't yet in place on May 1, which was the start of the new fishing year, and the skates are still prohibited at the moment.

New Data Shows Millions of Hungry Americans Ineligible for Federal Nutrition Assistance

Feeding America | Posted on May 8, 2018

The national anti-hunger nonprofit, Feeding America, announced new data, today, that shows 97 percent of counties include families facing hunger who are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance and, as such, must rely on charitable food banks to help put meals on their tables. This finding is according to the eighth annual Map the Meal Gap 2018, the latest research report published by Feeding America®. Map the Meal Gap is the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity across the United States, including every county and congressional district.

Conservative groups demand farm program reforms

Agri-Pulse | Posted on May 8, 2018

Heritage Action for America and other fiscally conservative groups are calling on House members to demand major changes to commodity programs and crop insurance in the House Republican farm bill.  “The bill not only fails to make reforms to farm subsidies, but actually makes the subsidies even worse,” says the letter released Wednesday by 14 organizations. The letter could complicate the House GOP leadership’s attempt to win passage of the farm bill this month because of reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that the legislation includes. Democrats are expected to be united in opposition to the bill. 

Shorebirds, the World’s Greatest Travelers, Face Extinction

The New York Times | Posted on May 8, 2018

A worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds — the marathon migrants we know as shorebirds. Numbers of some species are falling so quickly that many biologists fear an imminent planet-wide wave of extinctions.These declines represent the No. 1 conservation crisis facing birds in the world today. Climate change, coastal development, the destruction of wetlands and hunting are all culprits. And because these birds depend for their survival, as we do, on the shorelines of oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes, lagoons and marshes, their declines point to a systemic crisis that demands our attention, for our own good. Populations of all three of these shorebirds are crashing. Since 1974, pectoral sandpipers have declined by more than 50 percent, and Hudsonian godwits have declined by more than 70 percent. The bar-tailed godwit may have lost half its global population within just the past few decades. What’s driving these declines? Conditions are changing at multiple places across multiple continents, from northern breeding grounds to southern wintering grounds, and at essential stopover places, disrupting patterns thousands of years old.

Kentucky Milk Processing Plant to Close, Eliminating 52 Jobs

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on May 8, 2018

A Kentucky milk processing plant is slated to close next month, resulting in the loss of 52 jobs.The Paducah Sun reports the general manager of the Prairie Farms Dairy plant, David Atchley, notified the Kentucky Division of Workforce and Employment Services on Tuesday. His letter indicated employees will receive severance pay and benefits after the plant closes June 30.Fulton County Judge-Executive Jim Martin says the closure was not unexpected, as the company had raised the possibility several years ago.Martin says milk production in the area has decreased, and the county has seen more job loss than creation over the last decade. He says he hopes the skilled workforce will attract potential investors. Prairie Farms will continue to operate a distribution operation employing about 12 in Fulton.

Alaska bill to protect spawning habitats could affect rural development

Webcenter 11 | Posted on May 8, 2018

House Bill 199, also known as the "Wild Salmon Legacy Act" updates "Title 16, an older fish habitat protection and permitting law. According to the updated bill a broader definition of what constitutes salmon spawning environments, or "anadromous fish habitat" is the aspect of the legislation that is causing so much debate. According to HB 199, "anadromous fish habitat" includes any "naturally occurring permanent of intermittent season water body, and the bed beneath, including all sloughs, backwaters, portions of the floodplain covered by the mean annual flood, and adjacent riparian area, that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the spawning, rearing, migration, or overwintering of anadromous fish." 
Supporters of the legislation argue people will say anything to distract from the real issues at hand. They say HB 199, was proposed to update an older Alaska fish habitat protection permitting law.  "The two tier permitting program that the initiative sets up really creates a streamlined and efficient process for people who are looking to do projects in the salmon habitat areas, whether they are large or small there are guidelines to follow. It gives business the certainty it needs to move forward," said Director of Stand for Salmon, Ryan Schryver.
Opponents of the bill say the definition used to define 'Anadromous fish habitat' is so broad that it will impair community and resource development - potentially hurting Alaskan communities. 

Illinois counties declare 'sanctuary' status for gun owners

Chicago Tribune | Posted on May 8, 2018

Several rural Illinois counties have taken a stand for gun rights by co-opting a word that conservatives associate with a liberal policy to skirt the law: sanctuary. At least five counties recently passed resolutions declaring themselves sanctuary counties for gun owners — a reference to so-called sanctuary cities such as Chicago that don't cooperate with aspects of federal immigration enforcement. The resolutions are meant to put the Democratic-controlled Legislature on notice that if it passes a host of gun bills, including new age restrictions for certain weapons, a bump stock ban and size limit for gun magazines, the counties might bar their employees from enforcing the new laws."It's a buzzword, a word that really gets attention. With all these sanctuary cities, we just decided to turn it around to protect our Second Amendment rights," said David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board. He said at least 20 Illinois counties and local officials in Oregon and Washington have asked for copies of Effingham County's resolution. Co-opting the sanctuary title is also a way of drawing attention to the rural-urban political divide that was so stark in the last general election, when "downstate" areas of Illinois backed Donald Trump, who remains popular with those voters, while the Chicago backed Hillary Clinton, who grew up in the suburbs.

Net neutrality is vital – but so is rural broadband

Anchorage Daily News | Posted on May 4, 2018

Most issues look different from rural America, but that's especially true of net neutrality.No one doubts that net neutrality policies to keep the internet open and free for all users is vital. No internet provider or tech company should be allowed to block websites, censor or discriminate against viewpoints, manipulate cyberspace to shut out competition or otherwise interfere with our online experience.But for many activists and tech advocates in high-connectivity urban areas, that's all that net neutrality means. In rural America, however, effective net neutrality means much more.Most fundamentally, net neutrality policies must also accelerate the deployment and build out of new high speed networks to rural areas. A neutral internet doesn't mean much if you don't have network access in the first place and almost 40 percent of rural Americans still lack high-speed broadband.This is a key issue often overlooked in the debate. Policies that slow down the national effort to connect rural areas actually set net neutrality back. That may not be obvious in connected meccas like Silicon Valley or Washington DC, but it's painfully true on the ground in places like McGregor, Minnesota or Duckwater, Nevada, where access is spotty and incomplete.And this is how the current debate in Congress over competing proposals on net neutrality so frequently misses the point.

As they pick peaches and pine straw, S.C.'s 3,000 migrant farmers rely on advocates and legal aid

The Post and Courier | Posted on May 4, 2018

Before Charleston chefs can mine local crops for inventive seasonal recipes, thousands of migrant farm workers will descend on South Carolina's farms to pick and prune this year's peaches, tomatoes and berries.   Last year, about 3,000 foreign workers arrived in the Palmetto State through the H-2A visa program, a federal initiative that provides farmers and growers with temporary labor where domestic labor is inconsistent.The state agencies and organizations working to protect these workers by ensuring they have access to legal aid, medical services, fair wages and proper housing will meet Friday to strategize how they can most effectively serve this summer's workers.