Roundup: Rural Crime on TV

Rural settings are popular for crime shows • Rural kids more likely to be obese • Goodbye "Got Milk" • Small chicken farmers struggling • High fuel costs affecting church • Scots try to woo rural voters in a debate

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Rural crime may not be on the rise, but rural crime television shows are, according to Philadelphia Inquirer TV critic Tirdad Derakhshani.

There’s the New Mexico desert of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” the Kentucky mountains of FX’s “Justified” and the waterways of Louisiana in HBO’s “True Detective.” “Banshee” on Cinemax, “Longmire” on A&E and “Sons of Anarchy” all feature rural settings, as well.

Tonight, Sundance adds “The Red Road,” which features “a white cop and a Native American career criminal who live in a tiny mountain town in North Jersey.”

But the fictional rural-crime-show spree doesn’t correspond to real-life statistical changes, says University of Pennsylvania criminologist Emily Owens. “Violent crime rates are far higher in urban than suburban and rural areas,” she told the Inquirer. “And the differences have remained stable” over five decades.

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Children in rural areas are more likely to be obese than children living in urban areas, reports Kentucky Health News:

Many people are surprised to hear that childhood obesity is a rural phenomenon because they assume that rural kids have more access to the outdoors and physical activity. However, studies have found that there is little open public space in rural areas, often because of a lack of a strong government to provide and maintain such public spaces, [researchers Sarah] Lifsey and [Karah] Mantinan write. They also cite research showing that fear of crime in public spaces is a reason rural families don’t use public activity areas, even though crime is least likely to occur in rural areas.

Rural children are also at increased risk of poverty compared to children in cities or suburbs, and face lower access to health care, lower levels of physical activity, lower-quality food, and limited options for transportation.

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Dairy farmers eulogize the “Got Milk” campaign, which has been the cornerstone of the Milk Processor Education Program for two decades. Opinions vary. The story is at Modern Farmer.

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Earlier this week Modern Farmer examined the pressures that chicken growers face in that vertically integrated industry. It’s a tough business, where massive corporations like Tyson and Pilgrims set the prices and farmers do the work, while also paying for the overhead of raising the birds.

Nearly all the chicken raised in the United States is grown by farmers who contract with “vertically integrated” companies that own the chickens as well as the entire supply chain, from hatcheries to feed mills to processing and packaging plants. Growers … are simply paid to raise newly hatched chicks to market weight – a process that, thanks to constant genetic improvement, now takes just about five weeks.

The companies deliver chicks and feed and return later to collect the full-grown chickens for slaughter and processing, while the growers construct, maintain, upgrade and pay for utilities and labor in their poultry houses. 

West Virginia farmer Mike Weaver has created an organization to help chicken growers. Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias advocates for better conditions and pay for contract growers.

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We’ve read about the impact of high-cost propane on homes and businesses. The Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star has a different angle – the impact of high fuel costs on a small, rural church. Reporter Laura Nightengale visits the Sand Ridge Community Church in Manito in central Illinois to learn about the congregation’s financial struggle to heat their sanctuary during a cold, long winter.

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Both sides of the Scottish independence debate will be wooing voters in a debate designed to reach voters living in rural areas and working in the rural “sector.” The event is March 17 in Stirling, a city of 46,000 in Central Scotland.

 

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