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Rural News

Veterinarians talk new opioid prescription regulation for pets

WECT | Posted on January 30, 2018

Under North Carolina's STOP Act, doctors across the state are changing the way they prescribe opioids. According to Associate Doctor Kara Duffy with Atlantic Animal Hospital, veterinarians are now following suit. Duffy said that the new regulations limit doctors to prescribe just 5 days worth of controlled substances in an effort to curb opioid misuse by owners.“We’ve always kind of just tried to pay attention to how we’re dispensing controlled drugs and making sure that nothing seems suspicious when we’re filling them but we weren’t legally required to do as much as what we’ve done in practice,” she said.Duffy said some prescription medication used by people are also prescribed to pets, especially after surgery or injury. She said that those medications cause the greatest concern of abuse, along with certain anti-anxiety medicines.

Interior cancels decades-old protections for migratory birds

High Country News | Posted on January 30, 2018

one recent action by the Interior Department drew unprecedented protest from a bipartisan group of top officials who go all the way back to the Nixon administration: a new legal opinion that attempts to legalize the unintentional killing of most migratory birds. Under the new interpretation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act forbids only intentional killing – such as hunting or killing birds to get their feathers – without a permit. The administration will no longer apply the act to industries that inadvertently kill a lot of birds through oil drilling, wind power and communications towers. Critics fear that these industries might now end the bird-friendly practices that save large numbers of birds. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to kill birds without permission, though hunters can obtain permits. For decades, the threat of prosecution gave industries that unintentionally kill a lot of birds an incentive to collaborate with the federal government on minimizing bird deaths. For instance, hundreds of thousands of birds die each year from getting poisoned or trapped in the toxic muck of drilling companies’ wastewater pits. To remedy this, oil and gas companies can store the waste in closed tanks or put nets over their pits to limit the number of deaths.In other industries, fishing boats that drag long lines with baited hooks accidentally drown albatross, petrel and other seabirds. After working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fishing companies started attaching weights to their lines so they descend more quickly into the water. At communications towers, neotropical songbirds, especially warblers, are attracted to the steady red lights that warn pilots, and as a result millions are killed each year. So the industry, working with several government agencies, figured out that flashing lights — which don’t attract birds — are just as good at preventing airplane collisions. It’s a cheap fix, because the towers already have strobe lights; they just have to turn off the steady ones.Companies that refused to cooperate risked criminal prosecution. Duke Energy and PacifiCorp Energy both were prosecuted during the Obama administration for failing to take steps to protect birds at their Wyoming wind farms, despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to get them to do so.

New bill would set up rural broadband task force

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 30, 2018

A new bill introduced in the House and Senate would support efforts to advance rural broadband and precision agriculture across the country. The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 would require the Federal Communications Commission to set up a task force to evaluate the effectiveness of existing rural broadband programs, identify gaps in coverage, and develop policy recommendations to address those gaps.The task force also would have to come up with specific actions the FCC, USDA and other agencies can take to fill the coverage gaps.

Walker Proposes $50M In Rural Economic Development

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on January 30, 2018

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing a new $50 million annual investment in rural economic development projects. On Wednesday, Walker outlined plans to re-purpose a former dairy grant program into a new "Family Farm Fund."The initiative would include low-interest loans for dairy businesses, more money for state marketing efforts, and a new college scholarship program for students to take agriculture classes at state colleges.Walker announced the proposal hours before he was to deliver his State of the State address. He said the new money would primarily be used to stimulate private investment, improve productivity and fill open jobs in rural parts of the state.

Why do people leave, and what helps bring them back?

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 30, 2018

U.S. Census data shows that many of those leaving rural Montana are the young people, the high school graduates who leave to pursue post-secondary education and don’t come back. “If you can marry a superior and superb quality of life with the reliability and convenience of strong infrastructure, including internet connections and fiber connections, places like Choteau and Fairfield and Cut Bank and Shelby, become far more relevant and attractive for business development than they would be otherwise,” Tuss said.

Proposal would tie Oregon wolf compensation to population

Capital Press | Posted on January 29, 2018

Oregon House Bill 4106 would directly correlate the amount of compensation ranchers receive for wolf attacks on livestock with the overall wolf population statewide. House Bill 4106 requires the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to prepare a report each biennium detailing the change in wolf population over the preceding two years. Legislators would then allocate money from the general fund to the Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program based on the change.The bill is spearheaded by Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, who represents northeast Oregon where the majority of wolves live, including Wallowa County. Co-sponsors include Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass.

Immigration Crackdown Raises Fears of Seeking Health Care

Roll Call | Posted on January 29, 2018

Many people get nervous any time they need to go to the doctor. But in the past year, some U.S. residents became more concerned than usual. Immigrants around the country who are on edge about broader enforcement under the Trump administration have been skipping appointments, questioning whether enrolling in government-funded health care coverage could undermine their immigration applications and showing anxiety about visiting unfamiliar physicians, according to nearly two dozen medical providers and lawyers interviewed recently. Isaura, an undocumented mother of two children living in the Washington, D.C., metro area, described the deep apprehensions some immigrants feel about venturing out in the current political climate.

Cuomo to internet providers: Observe 'net neutrality' or no NY state contracts | Posted on January 29, 2018

New York state will require internet providers to observe net neutrality or risk losing eligibility for state contracts under an executive order issued Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The new policy aims to protect consumers by using the state's lucrative information technology contracts as leverage over internet companies. It's similar to one enacted through executive order Monday by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and comes as states consider how to respond after the Federal Communications Commission last month repealed its own net neutrality policy.Attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia also have sued to block the repeal of the federal policy, which had banned companies from interfering with web traffic or speeds to favor certain sites or apps. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is leading the lawsuit.

Forces that will shape the U.S. rural economy in 2018

CoBank | Posted on January 25, 2018

In rural America, however, economic conditions are considerably more challenging. Persistently low commodity prices have hurt U.S. agricultural producers, depressing farm income and eating into farmers’ working capital. There is continuing uncertainty about the direction the Trump administration will take with regard to NAFTA and other international trade agreements that are vitally important to agriculture. Rural utilities face growing pressure to consolidate in the face of high regulatory costs, technological change and the loss of population across many rural areas

Washington legislature passes bill to settle water use dispute

Wahkiakum County Eagle | Posted on January 25, 2018

One of the year’s most important legislative battles in Washington state came to a surprisingly quick conclusion last Thursday evening when a water-use bill passed both chambers and went to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed it into law the next day. In 2016, the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision essentially halted development across the state when it determined that counties were not adequately examining impacts on stream and river flow levels.The decision weighed heavily on last year’s legislative session when Republicans refused to reach an agreement on a state capital budget until Democrats could devise an appropriate Hirst fix. The capital budget pays for state-funded development, and the stalemate put a delay to a number of projects across Washington, including efforts to improve schools.Inslee and party leaders were vocal heading into this year’s session that solving the Hirst/capital budget issue was a major priority, and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program that a fix was agreed upon late Jan. 17 when leaders from each chamber met with the governor.“I appreciate that the complexity of this issue required several months of negotiations by many legislators,” Inslee said in a Jan. 18 press release. “While far from perfect, this bill helps protect water resources while providing water for families in rural Washington.”