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.

USDA says it will deliver on Trump request for 5-percent spending cut

Under orders from President Trump to cut spending by 5 percent, the USDA may try to slash the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance program, eliminate a green-payment program, or take an ax to its research agencies, if recent proposals are any indication.

Farm bill? Rural America doesn’t have the time.

The farm bill was the missing topic during a 45-minute session recently with farmers in southwestern Missouri, recalls Sen. Roy Blunt. "The farm bill never came up." Instead, growers talked about threats to farm exports, over-regulation and the need for rural broadband. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says low commodity prices, the slump in farm income, attacks on corn ethanol and, most of all, anxiety about a possible trade war are the top concerns in farm country. No paywall

Growing pains where urban meets rural

Central Iowa’s Dallas County is growing rapidly as the Des Moines metropolitan area spreads westward, says Harvest Public Media in a look at life in two midwestern counties where rural is meeting urban.

Trump infrastructure outline tabs $50 billion for rural projects

As part of a mammoth package envisioned by the Trump administration, the nation's governors would be given $70 billion in block grants to help finance rural projects such as expansion of broadband service, said two senior White House officials. They said the block grant funding would be available on a more rapid basis than the rest of the $200 billion in federal funding that would be provided for improvements nationwide for all types of public works.

Consolidation may be factor in low rural wages

As farms got bigger over the years, so did the equipment that farms use to cover the land. Farm equipment dealerships also got bigger, buying or pushing out competitors, and that may explain the problem of stagnant wages in rural areas: When there are fewer employers, wages show less growth, reports the New York Times.

Tribes form coalition to get a voice in 2018 farm bill

Some 30 tribes are members of the newly formed Native Farm Bill Coalition, whose goal is influencing the 2018 farm bill, particularly on rural economic development issues, says Minnesota Public Radio.

Climate and culture change threaten New Mexico’s ancient irrigation canals

For hundreds of years, a network of earthen canals that ribbon through New Mexico have been central to a thriving small-farm scene and a communal way of life. But those canals, called acequias, and the way of life they support, are being pushed to the brink by a changing climate, a development boom, and the imperatives of the modern economy, says Alexis Adams in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

Drug-abuse deaths contribute to shrinking rural population

Rural mortality rates are up, spurred by drug abuse, and it's dragging down the rural population and draining rural America of its workforce, according to a USDA report that listed grim conditions in a portion of the country perennially coping with lower wages and higher poverty rates than in cities. "Long-term population loss continued in counties dependent on agriculture, in the Great Plains, Midwest and southern Coastal Plains," said the annual "Rural America at a Glance."