Skip to content Skip to navigation

Rural News

USDA Encourages Rural Communities, Water Districts to Apply for Loans to Improve, Rebuild Infrastructure; $4 Billion Available

USDA | Posted on August 2, 2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced a historic commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure. “USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures,” Hazlett said. “All people – regardless of their zip code – need modern, reliable infrastructure to thrive, and we have found that when we address this need, many other challenges in rural places become much more manageable.”Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.


Dog owners leaving pets in dangerous weather in Maryland County could be fined

Baltimore Sun | Posted on August 2, 2018

Howard County pet owners could get bitten by fines depending on how they keep their dogs outside in excessive heat or cold. The County Council passed a bill Friday mandating that dogs must be protected from weather that could harm or kill them. It also requires proper shelters for dogs left unattended by owners for 30 minutes or more, specifying the size, type of bedding and access water at all times.


Wildfires hit the West: ‘We’re stretched to our limits’

High Country News | Posted on August 2, 2018

Vehicle malfunctions, lightning and alleged arson ignited some of the most violent wildfires of the 2018 season in the West, but prolonged drought, record temperatures and ready fuel have fed them. While fewer fires have sparked this summer than the 10-year average, they’ve burned wider — 1 million more acres than the January to July average, totaling 4.8 million. They’ve also wreaked havoc on communities, especially in California.


Medicaid expansion positive for Va. hospitals credit ratings

Richmond Times Dispatch | Posted on August 2, 2018

A national bond rating agency predicts Virginia’s hospitals and health systems will receive a boost to their bottom lines when the state expands its Medicaid program on Jan. 1.S&P Global Ratings said Monday that the impending expansion of health coverage for up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians will be “credit positive” for state hospitals by generally reducing the level of uncompensated and charity care they provide to people with no means to pay.


After Parkland, States Pass 50 New Gun-Control Laws

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on August 2, 2018

Something familiar happened in America in February: A gunman walked into a school, and shot and killed 17 students and staff in a horrific act of violence. But then something unfamiliar happened: State legislators — inspired by a movement led by the student survivors of that mass shooting in Parkland, Florida — started passing legislation to restrict gun access.This was a year of unparalleled success for the gun-control movement in the United States. States across the country, including 14 with Republican governors, enacted 50 new laws restricting access to guns, ranging from banning bump stocks to allowing authorities to temporarily disarm potentially violent people. State lawmakers still managed to expand gun access with at least 10 new laws in seven states. These measures — from allowing guns in K-12 schools to bolstering “stand your ground” laws — continued to carry weight in certain parts of the country, even as the gun-control movement steadily gained steam elsewhere.


New Mexico investigates immigration detention

High Country News | Posted on August 2, 2018

Last month, Roberto de Jesús González spoke to state legislators in Santa Fe, New Mexico, about his experience being held for three months in the Otero County Processing Center. “(I was) a victim of the private prison system,” he said — treated like an animal, poorly fed and given little respect by the guards. “This business is based on human suffering,” he told lawmakers. “That was my experience.” He wasn’t alone. At the hearing, convened by the state’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee to consider better oversight of private detention facilities, a line of detainees formed behind de Jesús González to describe their own experiences with medical neglect, solitary confinement and spoiled food. All the while, they reminded legislators that they were either asylum seekers — meaning they hadn’t broken any laws and were seeking shelter from persecution or violence — or people who had been detained on civil charges. Leila, an asylum-seeker from Somalia, said she understood the government’s need for detention centers. But, she added, “There should be some fairness in the way they treat people.”


Is the American Dream Still ALive in Rural America?

Agriculture.com | Posted on August 1, 2018

Many such towns face a turning point. John Ikerd, a retired University of Missouri agricultural economist, sees the rural mood as “a growing sense of impotence and dread.” Ultimately, a positive rural future hinges on rural residents taking the future into their own hands and working together for their community’s common good, says Ikerd. Several steps taken in the past 15 years have helped sustain Langford’s businesses, says Jensen. Glacial Lakes Area Development helps support local individuals and industries with tools like business development goals. In 2008, Langford started a foundation that earns $10,000 annually for community project grants. The Front Porch, a 5,000-square-foot facility, opened in 2015. It houses four new businesses, including a restaurant and bar. Funding came in the form of loans from economic development entities, local bank funding, cash donations, and stock purchases from 110 area investors.  Off-farm income is vital in helping rural areas retain farmers and residents. David Peters, an Iowa State University Extension rural sociologist, summarized income trends for Iowa farms and farm families from 2003 to 2015. He found off-farm income was vital for two types of farms.


Rural America is ripe with potential, starving for capital

The Hill | Posted on August 1, 2018

Investment in venture-backed companies in the United States reached $57 billion in almost 4,000 deals in the first half of 2018. Yet, only a fraction of those dollars found their way to funds and companies based in rural America. This capital deficit is starving innovative and valuable growth opportunities across rural communities. Many people think immediately of agriculture when focused on rural communities, yet it only makes up 6 percent of today’s rural economy.One way of addressing the issue of scale that is often a limiting factor for rural investment is the development of funds that target mid-tier investments. The recent wave of Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs) is a good example.Their charters limit their investments to rural-based businesses and their typical investment slice has been in the $1-5-million range. Another tool is a fund of funds approach, where many small funds are brought together by institutions as way of allowing their customers to obtain the diversity and scale that is denied them in more targeted funds.


How Can Landowners Protect Themselves from Liability?

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on August 1, 2018

A common concern for landowners across the country is how to ensure they are protected from liability if someone is injured on their property.  In fact, in one morning last week, I got three emails from landowners asking what they could do now to be in a position to best defend themselves in the event an injury does occur on their land. Importantly, there is no silver-bullet that will ensure a landowner will not ever be liable for anything.  Additionally, there is nothing a landowner can do to make it impossible for another person to file a lawsuit against the landowner.  There are, however, numerous steps landowners can take to limit liability and protect their operations from this concern. Every landowner needs to have a liability insurance policy that covers every activity taking place on the property.   However, generally speaking, warning any guest on the property about dangerous conditions or making them safe would satisfy the duty of care owned by a landowner to any type of guest on the property. 


Editorial: Rural America needs Theodore Roosevelt

The Roanoke Times | Posted on July 31, 2018

The New York-born president looked out at the nation and didn’t like what he saw.He saw two very different Americas that were increasingly growing apart — a prosperous urban America where the economy was driven by fantastical new technologies, and a rural America that was being passed over by this emerging new economy.2018? No. 1908. The president then was Theodore Roosevelt, who envisioned himself a man of action (and often was). Roosevelt feared that the economic gap opening between the two parts of the country was not a healthy one. So he did what politicians often do: He appointed a blue-ribbon commission to study the matter.Roosevelt’s commission — which included Henry Wallace, a future Democratic vice president — fanned out across the country to study the economy of rural America. It held 30 public hearings and produced a report, the main recommendations of which were put into action. (The most famous of those at the time was the creation of the agricultural extension service).

 


Pages