The ‘TRIC’ of fostering rural prosperity

Rural communities often look outside of their boundaries for the solution — a new employer or new residents — to their economic doldrums, say the editors of "Investing in Rural Prosperity," published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "We believe rural communities are more likely to achieve these and other common community and economic development goals if ... they build from the inside on the assets they already have," write Daniel Davis and Andrew Dumont.

Covid-19 is worst in persistently poor rural counties

Throughout the pandemic, the highest Covid-19 case rates and the lowest vaccination rates in the country have been found in persistently poor rural counties, the USDA said Wednesday in its annual Rural America at a Glance report. Those counties have also had low unemployment rates, suggesting residents continued to work despite the risk of infection by the coronavirus, said the report.

USDA to spend up to $1.15 billion on rural broadband

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the USDA would spend up to $1.15 billion to bring high-speed internet services to people living in rural communities. The money would be available in loans and grants to providers who offer service with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second in areas that lack high-speed internet.

Torres Small is confirmed as USDA rural development leader

On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed former New Mexico Rep. Xochitl Torres Small as agriculture undersecretary for rural development. Torres Small is the second Biden nominee for agriculture undersecretary to be approved by the Senate.

Rural America, mostly white, is becoming more diverse

Three-quarters of rural Americans are white, a larger proportion than the roughly six in 10 for the nation overall, but the rural population is becoming more diverse, said a pair of analyses of Census data. The rural America of the future will be increasingly diverse and not as politically conservative as many assume, said the Brookings Institution. (No paywall)

Covid is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of urbanites

Rural Americans are dying of Covid at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts — a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks for a population that tends to be older, sicker, heavier, poorer, and less vaccinated. (No paywall)

One in seven rural Americans lived in poverty during 2020 pandemic

Nearly 6 million people in rural America had incomes below the poverty line during the pandemic year of 2020, an increase of 315,000 from the preceding year, according to a Census Bureau estimate released on Tuesday. The annual Income and Poverty report indicated that one in seven rural residents lived in poverty, compared to the national average of one in nine.

Ag leaders urge Covid-19 vaccinations in rural America

While nearly half of urban Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the rural rate is much lower — less than four in 10. "We still have so far to go," said the leaders of 30 farm and agribusiness groups on Wednesday in an open letter to their members that encouraged vaccinations to head off the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

USDA awards $167 million for broadband access

Projects in 12 states will receive a combined $167 million in USDA grants and loans to deploy broadband infrastructure in parts of rural America lacking sufficient access to high-speed internet service, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.

House panel: Put the brakes on China-owned farmland in U.S.

China would be barred from buying more U.S. farmland and the land already in its possession would become ineligible for farm subsidies under language approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. On a voice vote, the provision was added to a $197 billion USDA-FDA funding bill headed for a vote on the House floor.