Photo by Lance Booth.

In the Black: ’It’ll Get Easier’

Three-hundred feet below the surface in the hammering din of a jack-leg drill, air horns, and screaming men, Gary once more fantasizes about calling it quits. One thing stops him. “Unless I could levitate, … I wasn’t going anywhere.”... READ MORE

The map shows counties that have abandoned mine lands on the federal inventory. Dark red counties have the most reclamation costs; the lightest shade of red has the least. (Source: Daily Yonder from the federal Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System).

Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation: Who Needs It Most?

The federal government has about $2.5 billion set aside to reclaim lands damaged by mining. With the coal economy shrinking, a new proposal would attempt to get more of that funding to coal-dependent communities and tie restoration to economic development.... READ MORE

The grandmother of the Huang family, Zhu Huaxiang, climbs a mountain with her daughter-in-law, Li Xiaowei, to cut wood for cooking and heating. It is hard work and sometimes the women climb the mountain twice a day. In rural China, women  frequently provide for the family and raise  children. It is still considered preferable to have a son than a daughter.
All photos by Clay Estes

The Left Behind: The Skipped-Generations of China’s Rural Poor

Industrialization and urbanization are changing rural Chinese families, causing parents to leave their children behind in the countryside to pursue work in the city. Photographer Clary Estes visited one such rural family over the course of a year to document the phenomenon of parentless children and childless parents.... READ MORE

"Pig Races" by Overduebook via Flickr. Nebraska small farmers and corporations are in a contest to settle the hog-ownership issue.  (See last item below.)

Politics & Elections: Rubio’s Ties to Sugar Could Affect His Free-Market Stance

Bill Bishop takes a look at political issues affecting rural America: Now that the Iowa caucuses are over, will ag issues be part of the presidential race? More news on the threat to rural hospitals. A House bill would release funding for mine reclamation and economic development. Nebraska hog bill pits small farmers against mega-farms and corporations, statehouse correspondent says.... READ MORE

An American flag is painted on the side of a barn outside Webster City, Iowa.

The Culture of the Caucus: Count, Court, Repeat

A first-time caucus-goer learns the ropes in a rural Iowa county, where voters are on a first-name basis with their candidates and democracy requires a little extra shoe leather – and tolerance at home. Julianne Couch reflects on her first Democratic caucus, held in Jackson County.... READ MORE

What's left when our production jobs go overseas? McJobs in the service sector. "May I take your order?" Photo by s2art/Flickr

Letter from Langdon: Free Trade’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Poorly negotiated trade agreements cost American workers their jobs and destabilize the U.S. economy. But multinational corporations come out ahead, so the cost is worth it. Right?... READ MORE

Rural Support Puts Cruz and Clinton over the Top in Iowa

Rubio and Sanders win narrow leads among urban voters but lose them outside metropolitan areas. Trump finishes third in urban areas and second in rural.... READ MORE

"The Peach Lady" (left) is happy to share a peach pie recipe with a customer Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center, Owingsville, Kentucky. The USDA Rural Development grant program that supported the center is now one of the programs included in an initiative to encourage regional cooperation. Photo by Lance Cheung/USDA

People on the Land: USDA Initiative Encourages Regional Cooperation

Reaching across the county line or beyond the city limits can be challenging for rural areas. A new approach to funding in USDA's Rural Development is designed to reward regions that work together on development.... READ MORE

Politics and Elections: The Poll that Wasn’t

The American Farm Bureau “poll” reveals little about farmers and even less about rural American political preferences.... READ MORE

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