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Rural News

Caring for the Opioid Epidemic’s Youngest Victims

Pew Trusts | Posted on October 11, 2016

Before hospitals in the rest of the country started seeing a surge in the number of infants born with severe drug withdrawal symptoms, this town of 50,000 was already facing a crisis. In 2010, babies born to mothers using heroin were filling up so many beds in the newborn intensive care unit at the city’s main hospital that little space was left for babies with other life-threatening conditions.  The nurses who cared for these agitated and often inconsolable infants knew there was a better and less costly way to help newborns through the painful, weekslong process of drug withdrawal By 2012, they had created a separate newborn therapy unit just for babies in withdrawal. Because their treatment didn’t require the same high-tech equipment needed in an intensive care unit, it was about half the cost of neonatal intensive care, according to Dr. Sean Loudin, who heads the new unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital. The next step was to create an infant recovery center outside the hospital where newborns could be taken as soon as it was safe to leave the hospital, usually within two weeks. Not only would it free up beds for other newborns who need intensive care, it would be tailored to the needs of infants in drug withdrawal, and their parents.

Winter Is Coming, And It Could Get Wicked

Growing Produce | Posted on October 11, 2016

According to AccuWeather’s winter 2016-2017 outlook, chances are high for temperature and precipitation extremes to impact large portions of the U.S., making a long season seem even longer for many.  Of particular note for Florida citrus growers, reports indicate that while very mild air is expected to hang on in the Southeast region throughout December, 2017 will bring with it a pattern change and sudden burst of cold air. Other highlights from the forecast include:Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.Shots of brutally cold air are predicted to slice through the upper Midwest; an early start to lake-effect snow season is in store.Fall-like weather will linger across the southern Plains and Gulf Coast, and dryness will become a major theme as the season progresses.Winter will get off to a quick start in the Pacific Northwest and northern California with rain and storms.Warm and dry conditions will span much of the season for central and Southern California and the Southwest.

UNH Research Finds Rural Immigrants Twice as Likely to Be Poor than Workers Born in the U.S.

University of New Hampshire | Posted on October 11, 2016

Rural immigrants are more likely to be of working age (18-64), are more racially and ethnically diverse, are less educated and are more likely to have children than the rural population born in the U.S., an analysis of data by researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy found. The researchers found that working rural immigrants are nearly twice as likely as rural U.S. born workers to be poor, and they are poorer and have less education than their urban counterparts. “Our findings on the working poor suggest that economic stability is out of reach for many rural immigrants, particularly those without U.S. citizenship,” said the researchers. “A more complex analysis is necessary to better understand why so many rural immigrants currently working full time are poor. Such widespread poverty of full-time workers in a first-world country is cause for alarm, especially considering how poorly the U.S. safety net performs compared to that of other wealthy nations.” The data also revealed that citizens are far less likely to be poor and are almost twice as likely to have a college degree. More than 97 percent of rural immigrants who are citizens speak at least some English compared to just over 84 percent of rural immigrants who are not citizens.

Supporting rural broadband & economy

USDA | Posted on October 11, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $32 million in loans and grants that will promote economic development and provide access to broadband in more than 80 rural American communities. Vilsack, who is chair of the first-ever White House Rural Council, convened the forum with rural policy, business and nonprofit leaders to discuss pertinent issues facing rural communities, including opportunities for economic growth and strategies for improving health care and housing. “This funding will provide much-needed capital and bring cutting-edge technology to rural communities across the country,” Vilsack said. “Investments in our rural businesses and communities, coupled with extending high-speed broadband, have led to a resurgence of economic development, created jobs and improved the quality of life in rural America. While we have made great progress, our work to extend capital and technology to rural America is not done.”  Significant gains have been made across rural America: Rural household income climbed 3.4 percent in 2015, overall poverty and food insecurity fell dramatically, rural populations have begun to rebound, non-metro areas have added more than 250,000 jobs since 2014, and the share of rural Americans without health insurance is now at an all-time low.


New partnership leverages more than $400 million for rural facilities

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 11, 2016

A new private-public partnership with USDA, private foundations, and banks will help rural community development organizations take advantage of more than $400 million in federal loans to build community facilities like health clinics, schools, and child-care centers. The Uplift America fund, which was announced today, will provide private grants to help community development financial institutions manage and invest USDA Community Facilities loans. The organizations receiving the loans via USDA will, in turn, re-lend the money locally to facilities projects. The 26 community development organizations that will receive the support have “track records of helping reduce poverty in some of the nation’s most isolated rural communities,” according to a press release from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, one of the private foundations involved in the project, and the organization that will manage the private portion of the fund. The community development groups receiving the re-investment loans are spread across 18 states and serve Appalachia, the Texas-Mexico border region, the South, and Indian Country. They include organizations such as the Federation for Appalachian Housing Enterprises, which serves mountain portions of six states; Hope Credit Union, which serves parts of four states in the Mississippi Delta; Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corp., which serves tribal communities across the U.S.; and Rural Community Assistance Corporation, which serves 13 Western states.

Cabela’s Deal Spurs Uncertainty for Small Nebraska Town

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on October 6, 2016

The small town’s biggest success story and biggest employer, outdoor-gear retailer Cabela’s Inc., was being sold to rival Bass Pro Shops for $4.5 billion. The combination, which had been rumored for months, set off fresh fears about job losses at Cabela’s headquarters and what it could mean to the area’s future.  “When Cabela’s thrives, the town thrives,” said the 61-year-old. “It means there are more people who are going to buy more products here. We have car dealerships. We have a Wal-Mart.” Sidney, which is three-hour drive northeast from Denver, was founded in 1867 by the Union Pacific Railroad and became a frontier town filled with saloons and brothels that boomed during the gold rush. But since the 1960s it has been best known as Cabela’s country. The company, which started as a family-run catalog retailer, moved its operations into a vacant John Deere building in downtown Sidney. Over the next four decades it opened wildlife-bedecked megastores around the country. The company went public in 2004 and last year it booked sales of $4 billion. The area has more jobs (about 8,000) than residents (about 6,800) with nearly half those workers commuting from within 60 miles, according to city statistics. Cabela’s employs roughly 2,000 individuals from the surrounding area, said Sidney Mayor Mark Nienhueser, himself a former Cabela’s worker. It operates a large distribution facility and a call center in Sidney as well as its administrative offices.

Screwworm infestation threatens tiny deer in Florida Keys

The Washington Post | Posted on October 4, 2016

An agricultural emergency has been declared in the Florida Keys over a fly larvae infestation threatening endangered deer found only in the island chain. In a statement Monday, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the discovery of New World screwworm in the National Key Deer Refuge “sends shivers down every rancher’s spine.” Screwworm feed on the animals’ flesh, and infestations can be fatal to livestock and pets.  Refuge manager Dan Clark says about 40 of the 3-feet-tall Key deer have had to be euthanized over the last month due to the screwworm infestation.

Farm kids get fewer allergies, international study finds

UPI | Posted on October 3, 2016

Growing up on a farm may help ward off allergies later in life, a new study suggests.  The study also found that women who spend their early years on a farm typically have stronger lungs than their suburban or city-dwelling peers.  Other research has suggested that exposure to germs and potential allergens in early childhood could protect people against allergies later. A team led by the University of Melbourne's Shyamali Dharmage put this "hygiene hypothesis" to the test. Dharmage is a professor in the Center for Epidemiology & Biostatistics.

A dog fatally mauled a Canadian woman 3 months ago. Now, Montreal has banned pit bulls

The Washington Post | Posted on October 3, 2016

In June, a Quebec man named Farid Benzenati arrived at his house in Montreal’s east end to see a dog outside, wrestling with a large object. The dog was new to the Pointe-Aux-Trembles neighborhood, and Benzenati at first dismissed the tussle in the neighbor’s backyard as playful. But then he saw human hair. Police found Benzenati’s neighbor, 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais, mauled to death. Responders pronounced Vadnais dead at the scene. Officers shot and killed the animal, which they described as a pit bull. Since 2005, the nearby province of Ontario had banned pit bulls, and Quebec was also considering similar legislation. At the time of Vadnais’s death, the city of Montreal had also been mulling possible restrictions on “dangerous dogs,” though it was unclear which breeds would be affected. The tragedy spurred the city to action. On Tuesday, the city council voted 37 to 23 in support of a bylaw put forth by the Montreal mayor’s office. It will be illegal for anyone to adopt or otherwise acquire a new pit bull in the city. If the pit bulls are not grandfathered in, they face euthanasia.

604,000 uninsured veterans in 2017 unless more states expand Medicaid

McClatchy DC | Posted on October 3, 2016

More than 600,000 military veterans are likely to be without health coverage next year unless more states expand income eligibility for the Medicaid program, researchers at the Urban Institute reported. Of 327,000 uninsured vets in non-expansion states, only 39 percent currently qualify for Medicaid or subsidized marketplace coverage. Seventy-seven percent would qualify if those states expanded Medicaid under the ACA, according to the report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  “There is a tendency to think that all veterans get health coverage through the VA, which is far from the case,” said a statement from Kathy Hempstead, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “While the coverage situation for vets has improved a great deal, hundreds of thousands of veterans remain uninsured, many of whom would be eligible if their states expanded Medicaid.”  Amazingly, seventy percent of 277,000 uninsured vets in expansion states – nearly 194,000 veterans - are already eligible for Medicaid or subsidies to help them buy coverage through the insurance marketplace.