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)

In new ag platform, Warren pledges to take on Big Ag

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (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.

One counselor’s lonely struggle against farm country’s mental health crisis

In Minnesota, one of the country’s top farming states, just one man is responsible for dealing with farmers’ mental health needs. As low crop prices and farm closures weigh heavily on farming families, he is joining state legislators and advocates to push for allocating more resources to the pressing issue. (No paywall)

Depopulation woven into parts of rural America

Some 35 percent of rural counties are losing population, many of them in the Great Plains, and an equal portion are growing, say two University of New Hampshire researchers who say the recession of 2008-09 continues to sap rural America. "Depopulation seemingly is now built into the demographic fabric of some parts of rural America," write demographer Kenneth Johnson and policy fellow Daniel Lichter. "Yet, depopulation is far from universal."

USDA’s rural broadband plan met with citizen criticism

Slow speeds, bad coverage and expensive service. These are just some of the concerns contained in nearly 300 public comments on Rural Broadband Pilot Program proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a review by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found.

After years of decline, rural population shows modest growth

For the first time in six years, rural America is gaining population rather than losing it, although the increase was a slender 0.1 percent, or 33,000 people, said the annual USDA report Rural America at a Glance.

Trump heads for farm country as midterms near

Ten days ahead of the midterm elections, President Trump will tout his agricultural record to a pared-down crowd of 7,000 teenagers at the FFA national convention in Indianapolis and campaign in southern Illinois for an imperiled Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee.