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Production agriculture is literally “white as snow.” Farmers of color have been gone for at least two generations. People of European ancestry have thrived on the Plains since the mid-1800s, and their productivity has only been matched by that of similar

Washington Examiner | Posted on November 8, 2016

The impact of illegal immigration on jobs is significant in agriculture and construction industries, with the undocumented workers taking a "disproportionate share," including over a quarter of all farm jobs, according to a new analysis of federal data.  Illegals make up about 5 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but because far more are younger and of working age than the overall population, they have an outsized impact on jobs, according to the analysis from the Pew Research Center.

Will diversity come to rural America?

High Plains Journal | Posted on November 8, 2016

Production agriculture is literally “white as snow.” Farmers of color have been gone for at least two generations. People of European ancestry have thrived on the Plains since the mid-1800s, and their productivity has only been matched by that of similar white settlers who moved from Europe to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Steve King, an Iowa Congressman, took a lot of heat for declaring that white people have contributed more to the advancement of human civilization than any other “sub-group” of people. Although it was politically insensitive to say, in agriculture, he was right.  That doesn’t mean diversity is not coming. Agribusiness is already diversifying for one simple reason: There are not enough farm-raised kids to supply the needs of corporate America. Rural youth have been one of the most attractive “subgroups” in modern times as the work ethic taught by farm life combined with their parents’ desire for each generation to be educated and excel has resulted in most rural youth seeking careers off the farm. It is often pointed out that our most valuable farm export has been our children. But the well is running dry. DuPont/Pioneer says only 10 percent of its new hires come from a farm background.

Severe Drought Strikes the South

Wall Street Journal | Posted on November 8, 2016

Farmers and ranchers are taking a hit, while municipalities scramble to ensure water supplies.  Although the drought has spared some major agricultural sectors, including the area’s large poultry industry, it has left livestock and hay producers scrambling. Ranchers raising more than 2.35 million cattle and calves in Alabama and Georgia, out of about 92 milllion nationwide, expect major losses. Hay production, valued in 2015 at about $369 million in those two states, could drop significantly.

Drug-Addiction Epidemic Creates Crisis in Foster Care

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on November 8, 2016

The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.  Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis.  Other states, such as Alaska, Kansas and Ohio, have issued emergency pleas for more people to become foster parents and take neglected children, many of them infants, into their homes.

Vermont:Farmers, environmentalists spar over agriculture regulations

Daily Progress | Posted on November 8, 2016

Some farmers are pressing for changes to proposed agricultural rules aimed at protecting Lake Champlain, but environmental advocates told lawmakers that the rules don't go far enough.  The required agriculture practices, which have been the subject of multiple meetings and public hearings, include rules for small farm certification, storing and managing manure, soil health and vegetated buffer zones on fields near water and ditches.  The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules is reviewing the rules to make sure they are not beyond the authority of the agency and not contrary to legislative intent, among other criteria. The committee on Thursday put off a vote until Nov. 17. The state agriculture agency says livestock farms and farms growing annual crops in flood plain areas will be most affected by the requirements. The requirements include increasing vegetated buffer widths on streams from 10 feet to 25 feet for small farms and creating 10-foot-wide vegetated buffers on field ditches for all farms. The required agricultural practices are part of Vermont's commitment to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain, and agriculture is the state's biggest contributor at more than 40 percent, state officials said.

Oregon ramps up research of bighorn sheep

Bend Bulletin | Posted on November 7, 2016

This is usually around the time when Oregon wildlife officials start planning to move some bighorn sheep around Eastern Oregon in an effort to bolster genetic diversity.  Not this year.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has instead focused its efforts on researching a bacteria that can lead to pneumonia in the animals, a problem that has killed large numbers of bighorn sheep throughout the West over the past several years. Bighorn sheep get the respiratory pathogen from domestic sheep and goats, which it doesn’t affect.  “When wild sheep get it, it’s pretty devastating,” said Autumn Larkins, assistant district wildlife biologist and sheep capture boss for ODFW. “We’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”  Early this year, Nevada wildlife officials killed a herd of about two dozen of the animals located in the northern part of that state as a way to keep the disease from spreading — including to bighorn sheep in Southern Oregon. Similar kills took place in Washington, Utah and Canada in previous years to block pneumonia from

Thinking Outside the Box for start up funding

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 2, 2016

For a long while, banks have led us to believe there’s only one responsible way to get money to invest in a small, start-up business. You go into the bank, sit in green leatherette chairs for an hour, then go back and explain your business plan to a loan officer. Then they decide your fate. But what happens when the banker doesn’t believe in your vision, or thinks the audience isn’t large enough to make a go of it, or any number of reasons to not stamp your loan application?  There are better ways to do this. At least 27 better ways, in fact. Maury Forman, Senior Manager for Rural Strategies and Entrepreneurship for the Washington State Department of Commerce, along with Washington State University Economic Development Specialist Jordan Tampien, decided to compile these ways and publish them in an e-book, and then give it away. So he did. Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital is a treasure for anyone looking for help with the start-up costs associated with a new small business. Whether you’re trying to sell your cupcakes in the local grocery store or developing a cupcake-locating app, there’s at least one funding model in the book to fit the bill.

Pennsylvania Landowners Helping Indiana Bat through ‘Spooky’ Declines

USDA | Posted on November 2, 2016

When most people think of bats, images of dark caves, vampires and Halloween come to mind. But actually, bats get a bad rap, and we often don’t know how important they are for controlling insects, pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and improving biodiversity. Many of our nation’s bats are facing population declines to near-extinction levels, primarily because of disease and loss of habitat. One of those species is the Indiana bat, an endangered species that has experienced rapid declines since the 1960s. The Indiana bat, which has mouse-like ears, is found over the eastern half of the country. Unfortunately, this species is facing a new foe. White-nose syndrome, a fungal infection, is taking a toll on the Indiana bat and other bat species across the country, but there is hope. With the help of biologists, private landowners, USDA is working to reduce the spread of this disease, as well as promote protection of high-quality habitat. For example, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assists Thomas and Wendy Belinda of Blair County, Pennsylvania, to improve the management of forests on their land.  The Belindas are working to ensure diverse, open forests for the bats’ survival, as the bats prefer roosting in the cavities of large trees or under loose tree bark in open forests where the sun’s penetrating rays provide warmth.

Vermont approves all-payer model

Burlington Free Press | Posted on November 2, 2016

The Green Mountain Care Board voted Wednesday morning to approve the all-payer waiver, giving the go-ahead for the state to implement a model the governor says will curb rising health care costs.  Gov. Peter Shumlin has been travelling the state in recent weeks to promote the initiative. Under an all-payer model, providers are paid set amounts for care, rather than being paid per test, service or procedure. Al Gobeille, the chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, said the new way of paying health care providers will save Vermont $10 billion over the next 10 years.

PA:Opioid awareness education plan passes Senate

New Castle News | Posted on November 2, 2016

Legislation to create a new opioid awareness program for students in middle and high school was approved unanimously by the state Senate and is now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration. Sponsored by state Senator John N. Wozniak (D-Cambria/Bedford/Clearfield), the proposal — Senate Bill 1212 —  would require the Department of Education in consultation with the state departments of health and drug and alcohol programs to craft an opioid awareness curriculum for public and private schools. The program is targeted to students in grades six through 12.