Rural America was hit harder by the Great Recession than metropolitan areas and has not recovered fully, said the Center for American Progress on Monday. Although rural communities face unique challenges, they have assets for growth that include immigration, natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing and community social capital, the social bonds and civic engagement that create a resilient spirit in a town, the think tank said in an issue paper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.