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.

Biden proposes $100 billion to bring broadband to all Americans

President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure package — "a once-in-a-generation investment in America" — on Wednesday that calls for spending $100 billion to deliver affordable and reliable broadband service to all Americans. The package also proposed a $5 billion Rural Partnership Program to support locally led initiatives to create jobs and economic growth in rural America.

Record-high ag subsidies to supply 39 percent of farm income

Despite the effects of the pandemic and the trade war, U.S. farm income this year will be the highest since 2013 because of the largest federal payments ever — $46.5 billion, triple the usual amount, the government said on Wednesday. Think tank analysts said farm income would fall in 2021 with the expiration of Trump-era bailouts, but the drop-off will be lessened by the ongoing rally in commodity prices and increased ag exports.

Perdue tempers optimism on ‘phase one’ ag sales to China

Five weeks after saying he was hopeful China would import $36.6 billion of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is less certain the target will be met. A spate of sales to China during August and September has raised hopes in farm country that the goal, set in the "phase one" trade agreement, would be met despite a slow start.

Q&A: A rural Montana school district scrambles keep kids fed during pandemic

Like school nutrition staff across the country, Marsha Wartick, food service director for the Ronan School District in tiny Ronan, Montana, spent the last six months feeding hungry kids and their families under a USDA emergency meals program. Now, as kids head back to school, Wartick is scrambling to react to mixed signals from the administration and hoping the emergency program is allowed to continue through the entire school year. (No paywall)

‘Trump bump’ in farm income to disappear in 2021

U.S. farm income, buoyed by record-setting farm subsidies this year, will sink in the new year with the disappearance of government payments to buffer the effects of the trade war and the coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, said the FAPRI think tank on Thursday. Farm groups and their allies in Congress are likely to seek billions of dollars in new federal assistance, said analysts.

Rural advantages in coronavirus recovery

The coronavirus "dealt an economically devastating hand to nearly the whole country," but job losses were smaller and shutdowns were shorter in rural America, said rural lender CoBank in a quarterly report. "Economic recovery may now favor rural communities for the first time in many years."(No paywall)

Senate bill would help farmers get into carbon markets, say backers

Farmers could combine environmental and economic sustainability through practices that lock carbon into the soil, but it's dauntingly difficult to enter the carbon sequestration market and get paid for it, said the leaders of the two largest U.S. farm groups on Wednesday.

For rural grocery stores, the pandemic is personal

Grocery delivery is nothing new, and it certainly has become much more common since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But for stores like Michigan Hometown Foods, which is  the lone grocery in a town of 275 people, the process looks a lot different than it does in a larger city, as Stephanie Parker reports in FERN latest story.(No paywall)