During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, rural meatpacking counties had infection rates 10 times higher than rates in other rural counties, said the USDA on Thursday. And despite improvements, the Covid-19 rate in the 49 U.S. counties that rely on meat plants for jobs remains somewhat higher than in the rest of rural America as the disease surges again.
President-elect Joe Biden supports greater broadband access and more funding for rural healthcare, and says he will not immediately remove President Trump's tariffs on Chinese products, according to a column in the New York Times on Wednesday.
Rural America was key to Donald Trump's election in 2016 and rural voters backed him again this year, although by how much is unclear. While one exit poll reported that 54 percent of small city or rural residents voted for Trump, the Daily Yonder said the president's performance in Ohio, a battleground state, "looks a lot like 2016," when he rolled up huge margins in rural counties.
President Trump is ending his re-election campaign in rural America on the same issues that boosted him in 2016: Promises of tax cuts, fewer federal regulations and support for corn ethanol. In addition, farmers are wealthy from $23 billion in trade-war payments, said Trump in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday; "That's why you're all here and you're all happy."
Rural communities are bearing the brunt of new Covid-19 cases nationwide with the pandemic in its seventh month, said a report from the Center for American Progress on Wednesday. "Since the beginning of August, the rural share of new cases has exceeded the rural share of the U.S. population."
More than four of every 10 rural households reported financial setbacks ranging from a shorter workweek to losing a business because of the coronavirus, said a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health on Wednesday. The survey, conducted from July 1-Aug. 3, also found that a quarter of rural households were unable to get medical care for a serious problem when they needed it due to the pandemic.
Farmers, in overwhelming numbers, said they would vote to re-elect President Trump this fall, but the landslide margin was smaller than in April, according to a telephone survey by DTN/Progressive Farmer.
The government's coronavirus relief programs are an important shield for farmers and ranchers battling a sharp drop in income in the central Plains, ag lenders said in a Kansas City Fed survey released on Thursday. A similar survey of ag bankers in the Midwest by the Chicago Fed "revealed the broad financial distress from the Covid-19 pandemic in rural areas."
The coronavirus "dealt an economically devastating hand to nearly the whole country," but job losses were smaller and shutdowns were shorter in rural America, said rural lender CoBank in a quarterly report. "Economic recovery may now favor rural communities for the first time in many years."(No paywall)