Mine wars: Struggle for Coal Miners’ Health Care and Pension Benefits Comes to a Head

Republican Congressional leadership -- including Kentucky's Mitch McConnell -- have blocked resolution of health-insurance benefits for union coal miners who worked for companies that went bankrupt. With 22,000 former miners set to lose insurance this week, it's time to resolve the issue once and for all, says a health-policy scholar from coal country.... READ MORE

Independent Ag Groups Question the Narrow Focus of White House Rural Task Force

Independent agriculture groups worry that the president’s new agriculture and rural prosperity task force won’t do enough to improve conditions for the little guys. And a community development group says the task force needs to broaden its scope to include more than agriculture.... READ MORE

White House Adviser Erroneously Calls Ag the ‘Primary Driver’ of Rural Economy

The White House's first initiative to tackle rural policy goes all in on commercial agriculture, starting with a vastly inaccurate overstatement on the economic weight of the farming sector. First, let's set the record straight about ag -- an important but not predominant economic force at the national level in rural America.... READ MORE

Broadband ‘Vouchers’ Won’t Help Rural America Connect; So What Will?

A proposal from a former FCC staffer would destabilize rural America’s broadband infrastructure and discourage investment. Instead, the Federal Communications Commission should focus on modifying the current Universal Service Fund, according to the CEO of a national association representing rural broadband providers.... READ MORE

Suicide and the Rural ER

Rural patients struggling with mental-health issues often use the emergency room as their first point of contact with the medical system. But the next step in treatment is uncertain -- or nonexistent -- for patients without deep pockets.... READ MORE

As Interest in Sustainable Ag Soars, Iowa Legislature Kills Respected Research Center

Iowa's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has been instrumental in programs that helped establish the expanding industry. So why are the state Legislature and governor in such a hurry to get rid of it?... READ MORE

Invest in Preventing Forest Fires Instead of Fighting Them; Restoration Is the Key

In 2015, the U.S. Forest Service spent over half the agency's budget on fighting wildfires. A smarter approach is to invest in restoring forests to protect lives, property, and the economy. The upcoming Farm Bill is the place to start.... READ MORE

Immigrant Farm Owners and Farm Workers Help Drive Yakima County’s Diverse Ag

The agriculture economy in this southern Washington county churned out $1.7 billion in production in 2012. It's productivity is built on fertile soil, irrigation, and immigrants. Farmers and workers -- who increasingly live year-round in Yakima County -- both have a lot riding on federal policy.... READ MORE

For Former Coal Miner, the Success of His Column, ‘In the Black,’ Came Out of the Blue

Gary Bentley’s honest accounts of life as an underground miner hit the Daily Yonder just as coal and blue-collar labor issues cut through the chatter of the 2016 presidential contest. Now he’s working on a book about mining and growing up in Eastern Kentucky. Bentley says the response to his stories far exceeds his expectations.... READ MORE

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