While some meat producers try to hide behind the law or euphemisms, a new public relations campaign by the American Meat Institute attempts to show consumers exactly what happens in a commercial slaughterhouse.
The explosions at the Boston Marathon and West, Texas, occurred within days of each other and had similar catastrophic results. But the media and fundraising response to the two tragedies shows that Boston and West are worlds apart. It’s one measurement of the philanthropic gap between rural and urban America.
Today’s agriculture depends on chemically produced nitrogen to increase yields and feed the planet. That concentration of chemicals can have disastrous consequences, as we saw in West, Tex. But the dangers of those chemicals aren’t always what we are led to believe.
The percentage of U.S. population that lives outside metropolitan areas has been declining for generations, even though the raw number of nonmetro residents has continued to increase during that time. But from 2011 to 2012, the actual number of people living in nonmetro counties went down, for the first time since the federal government started keeping records.
Rural teens have higher pregnancy and birth rates than urban teens. They also have less access to information and good health care. There’s a relationship between these two sets of facts, and we need to address it.
"Teen Childbearing in Rural America," National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy There’s a perception that teen-pregnancy is an urban problem. In fact, the teen birth rate is higher in rural counties and small towns than it is in metropolitan areas.
Poor, minority, urban girls have become the face of teen pregnancy in the United States. But new data from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy shows that rural teens have a much higher rates of pregnancy and birth than their urban counterparts. In other words, rural teens are both more likely to get pregnant and more likely to give birth as a result of pregnancy.
Why? Commentators on both sides have rushed to put forward theories ranging from insufficient sex education (producing a higher pregnancy rate) to rural teens holding values that promote parenting over abortion (leading to a higher birth rate). Both analyses miss the mark. The first is incomplete while the second is speculative at best. Both fail to see teen pregnancy and birth in the context of the larger tapestry of rural health.
Photo by Greg Kocher/Lexington Herald-LeaderLetcher County may create a river trail along the Kentucky River for tourists and canoeists like these who gathered on the Kentucky River in 2011 in Clark County for a rally.
Peddling a New Solution - When thinking of the economic forces that drive the country, the mountain biking industry probably doesn’t come to mind. However, researcher Jeff McNamee and other rural Oregonians think biking’s the business their area needs. The timber industry is unable to support many of Oregon’s small towns these days, leaving many searching for the next big thing. McNamee recently conducted a study on the economic impact of three major mountain biking events that took place in the towns of Bend and Oakridge. All together, the events led to $2.6 million in direct tourism spending, $3.7 million in sales and 52 local jobs. This comes only weeks after Travel Oregon issued a report showing a $400 million annual economic impact from bike-related travel.
Row Your Boat - A new tourist attraction could be coming to Letcher County, Kentucky. Officials in the county are currently mulling over a plan that would open a water trail throughout the county, giving canoeists a new river to explore. This would make the 5th trail for nature lovers in Letcher to enjoy, as trails for all-terrain vehicles, hikers, bikers and horseback riders have already been approved.
Terrence Ray, who recently organized a canoe run for Letcher County's Watershed Organization, Headwaters Inc. to survey the area, recognizes there are challenges ahead, particularly the trash in the water. "That's probably the biggest obstacle at this point; a lot of the stuff there is probably 20 years old and has been in there a long time."
Jerry Collins, who participated in the canoe run, still admires the rivers natural beauty. "It's the best it has ever looked.”
Editor's Note: We've reported on the recent decline in nonmetro population and published a county-by-county map showing exactly where these changes occurred. In this article excerpted from Amber Waves, the journal of the USDA's Economic Research Service, John Cromartie looks at the underlying patterns of this population trend.
He finds patterns related to both geography and economy. The farther a county is from an urban area, the more likely it is to be losing population or growing at a slower rate than before the recession. He also found that agricultural and manufacturing counties are losing ground, and the big gains that counties with recreational amenities made before 2006 have dropped dramatically.
The question now: Are these temporary changes that will change with an improving economy, or are they permanent?
Photo by Sam Upshaw Jr.; The Courier-JournalDr. Ron Waldridge II has a 'team huddle' with medical assistant Wilma Collins as they go through their pre-patient planning process at his practice in Shelbyville, Ky. He says he cannot take on more patients.
Is There a Doctor in the House? – Are there enough doctors in rural areas of Kentucky to support the state’s new Medicaid expansion? The expansion will grant access to 308,000 residents who earn 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less, but the federal government lists 47 of the state’s counties are short on healthcare professionals. Despite this, Stephen Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Norton Healthcare, remains hopeful that the new measure will succeed. “I doubt this will turn into a huge problem — although there may be pockets.”
Plans purposed to deal with the issue include increased reliance on community health centers, and attracting more nonphysician health care providers to areas in need.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Berkeley Planning Journal, a student publication of the University of California, Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning.
Most of us have heard of the growing racial wealth gap and the statistics that show how white America continues to diverge from households of color when it comes to building assets, particularly in the form of quality homeownership. While we may tend to think about this disparity in the context of urban and suburban environments, it is crucial to also relate the issue to the households that live on the other 90% of the U.S. landmass, known as rural and small town America.
A recent report from the Housing Assistance Council shows that rural America has diverse racial and ethnic characteristics when taken as a whole. While these regions have a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites (78%) in comparison to non-rural communities (64%) overall, rural people of color live in a variety of settings, such as Native American lands, the Lower Mississippi Delta, the southern Black Belt and the colonias region along the U.S.-Mexico border. Populations such as migrant and seasonal farmworkers are also often found in rural areas. In examining the poverty rates among non-Hispanic whites and people of color, the gap between the two is wider in rural locations than throughout the U.S. overall. Additionally, the issue of persistent poverty—counties with continually high rates of poverty over the past 20 years—has much to do with these rural communities of color. Large parts of rural regions of color, in addition to several communities in Central Appalachia, make up the vast majority of counties in the U.S. with a history of persistent poverty.
Rural reaching out • Defuning the Rural Economic Development Center • Safer water in India • Small schoolhouses disappearing • A modern, minimal, home in the country
Gene Blevins, ReutersPeople look through the wreckage of their neighborhood after a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20.
Disaster in Oklahoma – Today the nation is focused on Moore, OK, where a tornado left a trail of destruction two miles wide and seventeen miles long. At least 43 have died, and 230 have been injured. Governor Mary Fallin said this morning, that the storms were the “most horrific storms and disasters that this state has ever faced."
The town of Joplin Missouri, which dealt with a similar natural disaster in 2011, has brought together a team of public safety officials that will be sent to help Moore and the surrounding area recover. Joplin also plans to pitch in in the coming days.
Rural Center at a Crossroads – The fate of North Carolinas Rural Economic Development Center hangs in the balance as N.C. Senate Republicans take aim at defunding the organization. Proponents of zeroing out the institution say that the organization has become bloated and inefficient over the years, as their board of directors has grown to over fifty members, and the state has no control on how the money is spent. “There is a need to change how it’s set up, to streamline the process.” Says Sen. Harry Brown
However, the center itself says that defunding the organization would cripple rural development. The organization has awarded over $2 billion in grants and created 33,000 jobs since its inception in 1987. “Why would you want to defund it and do away with it? I’m afraid the special needs of rural North Carolina will get lost in that reorganization.” Says Larry Wooten, president of the state’s farm bureau.
Researchers find broad popular support for wind-energy development in central Indiana counties. But wind-turbine opponents say the study misrepresents public opinion and local government responsibilities.
Photo by Lafayette Online.Benton County is the home of Indiana's first operational wind farm. Each of the farm’s 87 turbines produces enough electricity to power 600 average American homes per year.
Residents of central Indiana counties overwhelmingly support the development of wind-power farms, a Purdue University College of Agriculture research report says. But opponents of wind-energy development say the study misrepresents community opinion.
The study and its detractors underscore the challenging nature of energy development in the United States, especially for the rural communities where energy is most likely to be produced.
Purdue researchers looked at public response to the development of wind-energy facilities in three central Indiana counties northwest of Indianapolis. They say 88 percent of people who responded to a mail and online survey supported wind-energy development in their counties.
Indiana residents who oppose the construction of wind turbines say the survey technique the researchers used to gauge public opinion isn’t reliable.