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Rural News

Innovative plan to combine housing, farmland nears vote

Daily Democrat | Posted on October 29, 2018

In a first for the Bay Area, developers hoping to break ground on a new housing complex next year are wooing potential residents by offering a quirky but increasingly popular perk. It’s not a golf course, health club or even a pet spa — the big draw will be a farm, and access to all the tomatoes, zucchini and kale you can eat. The “Agrihood” development plan heading to the Santa Clara City Council for a vote as early as next month calls for 361 homes and a small farm to be built on vacant land across the street from Westfield Valley Fair and down the road from Santana Row, near the San Jose border. If the council approves the proposal, it would introduce the Bay Area to a new trend already taking the national real estate world by storm.


Privatized Medicaid's latest target: New transportation charges are leaving disabled Iowans in the lurch

Des Moines Register | Posted on October 25, 2018

Life for many disabled Iowans now features fewer outings, longer commute times and tighter living arrangements as a result of a state Medicaid policy change that affects their transportation to jobs and day services, a Des Moines Register investigation has found. The findings come less than a year after the Iowa Department of Human Services replaced a longtime "waiver" program used to pay for these transportation services. The change rolled the transportation payments into a new "tier rate" system that is supposed to be revenue neutral.But some companies and groups that provide services to disabled Iowans contend the new structure has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars inrevenue, forcing them to take drastic measures that affect services to Medicaid recipients.The new tier rate payments have also hit some of Iowa’s public transportation agencies, raising the prospect of higher taxes.The results intensify anxieties and other challenges that people with disabilities sometimes face, parents and service providers said.


USDA provides basic goods and services for rural residents

Ag Policy | Posted on October 25, 2018

In many ways the programs of the USDA serve as a validation of the list of basic goods and services set forth by Reinert. In his discussion of the merits of providing unrestricted cash transfers directly to people for the purchase of food compared to providing conditional cash transfers that set restrictions on the items that can be purchased we found Reinert speaking directly to most of us.He writes, “[A] way of enjoying oneself is to purchase things other than food even when your diet is far less than ideal. These could include televisions, festivals, videogame parlors, and much more. It is not that the poor are stupid in this regard. It is just that the poor are very much like the nonpoor in their behaviors. Indeed, the pursuit of something tasty is a part of what drives the obesity rates in both rich and poor countries.” How many of us have to say, “guilty as charged”?He then discusses policy interventions that have been shown to be useful including “pregnant mothers and their infants…. Evidence suggests that programs that improve the nutrition for these individuals have positive repercussions for for both health and education throughout the children’s lives.”While there are many who believe that American farmers will play a significant role in reducing the number of people around the world who suffer from significant undernutrition, the picture is more nuanced than that. It is clear that exports are important to the financial health of the US farm sector, but the solution to world hunger goes beyond the corn, wheat, and soybeans produced on US farms.


Ohio SARL member working on Ohio school funding fix

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on October 25, 2018

Ohio’s lowest-performing districts, with a performance index score under 70, had eight times as many low-income students on average as districts with scores over 100. Low income is defined as “economically disadvantaged” students with family income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level — $38,443 for a family of three. “There is stuff we know to do, and it takes money,” Fleeter said, pointing to universal preschool, summer programs and extended school days. “We need to get outside the box that school is six hours a day for 180 days of the year and it starts when you turn 5. If we keep trying that, we should not be surprised when, year after year, we find this (achievement gap).”But undertaking such a substantive revamp in most districts likely means a change in the way Ohio funds schools. An informal workgroup of school superintendents and treasurers, led by Reps. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, has been meeting for nearly a year trying to craft changes to the state funding formula.The group plans to roll out recommendations in late November, in time for consideration in the next two-year budget.Asked what the major problem is with the current formula, developed by Gov. John Kasich and modified by lawmakers over six years, Cupp said, “What isn’t the problem with it?”“This is a recession-era formula when the legislature was struggling to figure out how to keep things going with a lot less money,” Cupp said. “It’s sort of been patched ever since. It’s almost more patch than formula.”  Cupp and Patterson agree that a main flaw is base funding that isn’t tied to anything. Kasich never tried to determine the cost of an education, arguing that there was no magic number.


Tornadoes are spinning up farther east in US, study finds

ABC | Posted on October 25, 2018

Over the past few decades tornadoes have been shifting — decreasing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas but spinning up more in states along the Mississippi River and farther east, a new study shows. Scientists aren't quite certain why. Tornado activity is increasing most in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to a study in Wednesday's journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. There has been a slight decrease in the Great Plains, with the biggest drop in central and eastern Texas. Even with the decline, Texas still gets the most tornadoes of any state.The shift could be deadly because the area with increasing tornado activity is bigger and home to more people, said study lead author Victor Gensini, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University. Also more people live in vulnerable mobile homes and tornadoes are more likely to happen at night in those places, he said.


Northwest farmers, ranchers endure intense 2018 fire season

Capital Press | Posted on October 25, 2018

The gusty winds of October howled across fire-scarred Gordon Ridge overlooking the Deschutes River, prompting Molly Belshe to shield her face from swirling dirt and debris. It was here last July that the 78,425-acre Substation Fire raced out of control across north-central Oregon through tinder dry grass and standing wheat. Farmers like Molly Belshe and her husband, Marty, lost an estimated 2 million bushels of what was expected to be a bumper crop of wheat in Wasco and Sherman counties. They watched helplessly as months of hard work went up in flames in just minutes.The Substation fire was one of several large blazes that scorched Central Oregon in 2018. Statewide, wildfires had burned more than 811,357 acres as of Oct. 12, as well as 392,652 acres in Washington, 588,980 acres in Idaho and a staggering 1.5 million acres in California.


Scientists still aren't sure why Americans mususe their opioids.

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

Getting accurate information about individual drug abuse is a difficult proposition. It's even harder when people don't understand terms on a survey or, worse yet, don't even read the question. A researcher shares some of the pitfalls of tracking the misuse of opioids in the U.S. Drug surveys are reseachers’ main method of collecting data on opioid misuse. I’ve been in drug survey research for almost two decades, but in recent years I’ve learned that collecting accurate data on opioid misuse in particular is difficult. Why? Because many people underreport misuse, while others unintentionally overreport misuse.Colleagues have been asking me how to ask about opioid misuse on surveys. I’m finding that there’s no easy answer. But one thing I’ve learned in my research is that many people may misunderstand the basics about opioids, preventing researchers like myself from understanding the full scope of the epidemic.


Job growth falters in rural counties

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

From August 2017-2018, the number of jobs in nonmetropolitan counties grew by less than 0.2 percent, compared to a growth rate of 1.1 percent nationwide. Rural counties that are located farthest from cities lost jobs over the year. Job growth in rural America continues to lag the rest of the nation, according to the latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the 12 months ending this past August, the U.S. added over 1.7 million jobs. But only 38,000 of those new jobs found their way to rural counties, according to a Daily Yonder analysis. 


News Deserts: Counties without newspapers

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 25, 2018

The loss of more than 1,800 newspapers since 2004 has reduced citizens’ access to information about local issues and government, a new study finds. In rural areas, where communication can already be difficult, the impact could be even greater, the study says.Nearly a third of the U.S. newspapers that ceased publication in the last 15 years were based in rural communities, a new study finds. Most of the papers that closed were weeklies. In some cases, they were the only nongovernmental link between local government and residents, researchers say. Other publications have pared down their news operations in such a way that their coverage is minimal, becoming “ghost newspapers,” as researchers call them, mere wisps of their former selves.  


Florida pythons never stop eating. That could help them spread to cooler places

Miami Herald | Posted on October 25, 2018

Fueled by bountiful swamps that provide a steady supply of marsh rabbits, deer, wading birds and other meals, Burmese pythons in Florida have rapidly adapted to become hardier and more resistant to cold than their Asian cousins, a new study has found. And that supercharged evolution should serve as a warning not just for Florida, but the entire U.S.


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