Urban-rural poverty gap has widened since the Great Recession

For decades, the poverty rate has been higher in rural America than in metropolitan areas, a situation often attributed to an older, lower-paid, and less-educated rural population. A new USDA report says the gap between rural and urban areas widened, to 3.5 percentage points, during the economic recovery that began a decade ago.

Perdue puts his ‘Sonnyside’ on display as podcaster

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will release the first episode of his own podcast today — a chat with former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who describes how much President Trump “loves America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Report: Rural America is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to policy

A comparatively small portion of the U.S. population, roughly 60 million of the nearly 330 million residents, lives in rural America. But that portion is spread across 97 percent of the nation's land. A new report from the American Communities Project at George Washington University says the immense diversity of rural America defeats the usual approach of a "one size fits all" policy for rural economic growth, even with adjustments for geographic regions or economic sectors.

Growing portion of Democratic ‘aggies’ supports investigation of Trump

Although President Trump remains popular in rural America, 13 of the 32 Democrats serving on two food and agriculture panels in the House support an impeachment inquiry of the president. Among them are three House Agriculture Committee members who called for action this week, following reports …

Poverty rate returns to pre-recession level in rural America

After cresting at 17.7 percent during the slow recovery from the Great Recession, the rural poverty rate is back at pre-recession levels, said the Census Bureau on Tuesday. But the growth in household income that accompanied four years of declines in the poverty rate nationwide has slowed, and …

As Trump’s trade agenda falters, Dems see rural America in play for 2020

After years of effectively writing off rural voters, based on their solid support for the GOP, Democratic candidates for the White House are suddenly turning up frequently in Iowa — where the primary season kicks off in February — and rolling out rural initiatives on everything from ethanol and broadband to crop subsidies and healthcare. 

Digital divide persists, though 53 percent of farms conduct business on internet

More than half of U.S. farm operators say they do business over the internet, a 13-point increase in six years, as ownership of computers and access to the internet blossomed, according to USDA. Nonetheless, the Pew Research Center says rural Americans are much less likely than their city counterparts to have a smartphone or broadband service at home.

SNAP boosted rural employment during the Great Recession

The Obama administration’s increase in food stamp benefits during the Great Recession “had a positive average impact on county-level employment” in rural areas, says a USDA report.

At Iowa forum, Democratic presidential candidates vow to take on Big Ag

Antitrust enforcement took center stage at Saturday’s Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa, a platform for Democratic presidential hopefuls to share their visions for rural America. Nearly all of the candidates said tackling consolidation would be part of their rural agenda, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar calling it a main priority. Farmers at the forum were buoyed by the candidates’ attention to an issue that is a top priority for many rural communities that have been hollowed out by the effects of economic concentration and the powerful grip of agribusiness.(No paywall)

Rural groups seek larger program to mitigate stress in farm country

Congress put $2 million into a pilot program to address farmer stress and suicide this year, and a coalition of 43 rural and farm groups called today for full funding of the Farmers and Ranchers Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). In a letter to senators and representatives overseeing the USDA budget, the groups proposed $10 million for fiscal 2020, which opens Oct. 1.