Maternity care is disappearing from America's rural counties, and for the 28 million women of reproductive age living in those areas, pregnancy and childbirth are becoming more complicated—and more dangerous. That's the upshot of a new report from the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota that examined obstetric services in the nation's 1,984 rural counties over a 10-year period. In 2004, 45 percent of rural counties had no hospitals with obstetric services; by 2014, that figure had jumped to 54 percent. The decline was greatest in heavily black counties and in states with the strictest eligibility rules for Medicaid. The decrease in services has enormous implications for women and families, says Katy B. Kozhimannil, an associate professor in health policy who directs the Minnesota center's research efforts. Rural areas have higher rates of chronic conditions that make pregnancy more challenging, higher rates of childbirth-related hemorrhages—and higher rates of maternal and infant deaths. And because rural counties tend to be poorer, any efforts to revamp or slash Medicaid could hit rural mothers especially hard. ProPublica spoke with Kozhimannil about the new study and the implications for maternal care.
Ajit Pai’s proposal to “solve” rural America’s broadband problem won’t help you watch Netflix, finish your homework, or download videos from your grandkids. All it does is move the goalposts and call it a touchdown. Rural people know the real score.Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has made talking about the “digital divide” between rural communities and urban communities a top priority. In the few months since Pai took over, he has gone on numerous road trips , appearing with rural senators such as John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) to highlight his deep concern for rural Americans. Pai likes to talk about his rural Kansas roots and went so far as to declare August “rural broadband month”. Unfortunately, for all his Kansas roots, Chairman Pai has hit on a uniquely Washington answer to the very real problem of getting affordable, high speed broadband to every American: re-define the term “broadband” to make the problem go away.
A California farmer who plowed dry ground faces large fines from the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting America's waterways. Meanwhile, under some conditions, cities can dump raw sewage into major rivers with impunity. How is this fair?
The property tax reforms that Ohio farmers and farm groups sought over the past three years are just a few weeks from taking effect. The law itself becomes effective Sept. 30, and the reforms will be phased in over the next six years of assessments. It is estimated landowners will see an average of 30 percent savings beginning with the 2017 reassessments, with full savings realized after six years.Most recently, CAUV reform refers to changes included in the 2017 state budget bill that ensure all the factors in the CAUV calculation tie directly to the agricultural economy, making for a more accurate CAUV valuation. An earlier set of reforms were adopted by the Ohio Department of Taxation in 2015, which resulted in about a $10-per-acre savings.
The first legal crop of marijuana has started to grow in Maryland. And industry officials say products should be available in medical marijuana dispensaries by 2018.
With the fall comes opening day of several popular hunting seasons across the state. For Texas landowners, this often means entering into hunting lease agreements that generate added income for the operation. Under Texas law, a landowner leasing private property for hunting in return for any type of compensation is required to obtain a Hunting Lease License from Texas Parks and Wildlife (“TPW”). Note, this is separate from a hunting license that the hunter must possess.
When Angela Arnold was laid off at the end of last year, she didn’t know if she would find work that would let her stay in Carbon County. But then she got a job that keeps rural workers home by design.With training and support from a new company, Accelerant BSP, she answers calls from her house for HealthEquity, a Draper-based health savings account firm that manages over $5 billion for more than 3 million customers.“The idea is ultrasimple: Create rural jobs while filling the needs of the urban company that can’t find adequate talent on the Wasatch Front,” said Joel McKay Smith, CEO of Accelerant Business Solutions Provider. As the economy in Utah as a whole expands, job losses have devastated some rural counties. Gov. Gary Herbert hopes to see more solutions like Accelerant BSP during his push to create 25,000 jobs off the Wasatch Front in the next four years. Creating 25,000 jobs in those counties would represent the smallest amount of job growth in any consecutive four-year period this century, outside the Great Recession. From 2004 to 2008, before the recession settled in, rural Utah grew by more than 32,000 jobs. From 2012 to 2016, the counties grew by more than 27,000 jobs.
This year was going to be different. The cotton looked good. Unbelievably good. Fat bolls loaded on compact stalks. A sea of white, as far as the eye could see. Matagorda County farmer Robby Reed was hopeful. Until a bad boy named Harvey paid a visit.Some say it’s the hurricane for the decades. For Robby, it’s the storm of a lifetime.He’s 39 years old—a young farmer by most standards. He’s suffered through hard times, but 2017 may be his toughest year yet.More than 20 inches of rain has fallen, and the family farm is completely underwater.Half of Robby’s cotton is still in the fields. Or was. Drenched in the downpours, the cotton absorbed water like a sponge. Some fell off the stalks. Some floated away.He drove by his fields yesterday. Bad news. The potential of a bumper crop swept away after years of low prices.The evenings now are somber. Robby, his wife and son were forced out by rising waters. For the first time ever, water crept into their home.But he wasn’t alone. His parents were in trouble, too. Robby hopped on a jet ski and picked them up before dawn on Monday. Floodwaters breached the levee at their farm near Bay City. Bob and Debbie Reed had been there 40 years and never had water in their barn. Until two days ago. A foot surged through it. And the worse could be yet to come.For Debbie, it’s not the house or the barn that matter. “It’s just stuff,” she said.Seeing her son and other young farmers suffer extreme losses, though, is more than she can bear.“The hardest part is watching my son and daughter-in-law go through this,” she told me, voice cracking with emotion. “As a mom, you hurt for them more than you ever hurt for yourself.”She and Bob have weathered their fair share of storms. They will do so again.This time, they’re a little older. A lot wiser. And maybe just a little crazy—crazy for working long hours, hedging their bets and racing the weather without guarantees.Farming is what they know. It’s what they love. It’s in their blood—a family tradition.But Robby is looking at extreme loss—hundreds of thousands of dollars. A gamble he took on farming. With Mother Nature calling the shots. And her aim was deadly.
There are 27 prisons within a 100-mile radius of Bertie County, North Carolina. Its last major employer is the Perdue chicken processing plant. It is a place of dirt roads, muddy tracks, trailer homes, sweltering heat, rows of cotton, and very little opportunity for ambitious youngsters. It’s here that we meet three African-American boys in their teens trying to find their place in a world with odds stacked high against them — overburdened schools with few resources, mass incarceration, and a lack of decent jobs. All three boys are the subject of a new documentary “Raising Bertie,” which follows their lives for six years while examining questions of race, generational poverty and the opportunity gap that exists in rural America.There’s Reginald “Junior” Askew who, when we first meet him, cheekily says he thought of selling drugs to make money, but realized he doesn’t have the aptitude for it. There’s David “Bud” Perry, whose mom describes his birth as a blessing because he was “born real fat and light-skinned.” And then there’s Davonte “Dada” Harrell, who we follow as he struggles to come to grips with the dissolution of his parents’ relationship and how to express to his father what he expects in a dad.The documentary, directed by Margaret Byrne, who came to Bertie in 2009 with the intention of shooting another project, recently screened at U Street’s Public Welfare Foundation as part of the March on Washington Film Festival.
A university student has gone from stool to stools after transforming cow manure into a range of designer household furniture. Sanelisiwe Mafa, a Product Design Student at Birmingham City University, came up with the innovative idea in a bid to create useful items from the waste material.After researching how cow manure could be used as a sustainable resource she put her ideas into practice and transformed the manure into a material which could be shaped, moulded and styled into different items of furniture.She experimented with the substance before finding a method which allowed the manure to be manipulated into a range of shapes and sizes while retaining the detail of the material.The manure has been used to produce a range of stools and designer flower pots, mounted on wood stands, which are also fully recyclable.