This first of a three-part introspective series for communities takes a serious look at why Iowa's rural population continues a downward spiral and the personal responsibility we all have to grow. The article was originally published in the October, 2016 issue of "Iowa County," a monthly publication of the Iowa State Association of Counties. * Today's column is a "state of the state" of much of rural Iowa, and suggests questions and topics citizens should be discussing among themselves and with their elected officials. The accompanying pyramid emphasizes that most business/job creation takes place in new and expanding existing businesses, not on "chasing smokestacks." * The second will look at healthcare and what may be happening in your local hospitals and medical facilities, a sobering snapshot of rural healthcare in America. It will also share 10 solid strategies for rural to grow. * The final article commends collaboration by working together on public issues and opportunities with BIG vision. It describes the need to eliminate "silos," between organizations, agencies, departments, communities, and offers six markers of success. An illustration of what can happen when business ideas are supported -- or not -- concludes the series.
Charges of “terrible” trade deals, the shipping of jobs overseas and the dangers of globalization dominated the presidential campaign. But many states are aggressively courting foreign companies to boost and diversify their economies. “People make it too complicated,” said Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, a big proponent of foreign — especially Chinese — investment in his state. “Globalization is clearly a huge trend that’s been going on for some time and is only going to continue. If you want to be a strong economic engine … you have to engage.” In Snyder’s and other Rust Belt states, U.S. manufacturers left behind willing workforces and abandoned buildings when they departed. In California, foreign tech giants and pharmaceuticals are tapping a supply of skilled workers and access to North American markets. Many states and regions are looking for foreign investors as a way to boost economic growth. At the same time, there is increasing interest among overseas firms in investing in the relatively stable U.S. economy
For wildlife in Oregon, the best way to stay alive is to make sure someone wants to kill you. If the state can make money selling a fishing license or a hunting tag for an animal, it goes to great lengths to keep populations healthy. Teams of biologists collar hundreds of mule deer with tracking devices that cost almost $1,000 each. State police fly planes over wilderness in the dead of night searching for poachers. In one recent four-year span, Oregon spent upwards of $37 million to improve habitat for mule deer. But for the Western pond turtle, a candidate for the endangered list, the state’s longest-running survey amounts to one man with some homemade gear in the back of his truck.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.