Former Rep. Torres Small is selected to lead rural development at USDA

President Biden chose former Rep Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico to serve as agriculture undersecretary for rural development, overseeing a portfolio of $43 billion in housing, utilities and business and industry programs. Congress overrode a Trump-era reorganization of USDA to re-create the Senate-confirmed post in 2018.

Rural-urban poverty gap narrowed over past decade

The rural poverty rate has exceeded the urban rate ever since the government began tracking both in the 1960s. The difference, 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s, has narrowed to an average of 3.1 points over the past 10 years, said the USDA in updating its rural poverty and well-being webpage.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Big increases for rural power, WIC, ag research in Biden proposal

Most of the increased spending proposed by President Biden for USDA's so-called discretionary accounts would go to three things: Rural electricity, WIC and agricultural research. If approved by Congress, the money would accelerate the shift to cleaner electricity, help low-income families put food on the table and, as part of climate mitigation, find ways to verify carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction on the farm, said the White House.

Rural broadband is on Biden’s infrastructure list

President Biden plans to announce a plan to modernize U.S. infrastructure on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, with a dramatic expansion of rural broadband expected to be part of the package. Broadband service increasingly is seen as essential to rural prosperity and even survival. The pandemic …

USDA data paint a nuanced portrait of absentee landlords

In agricultural lore, the absentee landlord is often a resented figure, an outsider who reaps an income from the labor of the farmer and takes away the profits rather than investing in the local community. The modern-day situation is more nuanced, says a USDA study which finds that, for the most part, "non-operating landlords" (NOLS) live fairly close to their property.

Rural prosperity official becomes White House ag adviser

Kelliann Blazek, a former congressional staffer who was the first director of Wisconsin's Office of Rural Prosperity, will serve as the agriculture and rural policy adviser to President Biden, announced the White House.

New USDA executives for nutrition, marketing, and rural development

The Biden administration announced the appointment of three USDA deputy undersecretaries on Thursday: Stacy Dean for nutrition, Justin Maxson for rural development, and Mae Wu for marketing and regulatory programs.

Water reuse may become part of USDA programs

As part of an administration initiative, the USDA will consider including reused water, also known as recycled or reclaimed water, in its land stewardship and community development programs. "Water reuse is going to be how agriculture continues to increase productivity while decreasing our environmental footprint," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday.

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.