Weekend Roundup: Will Obama Mention Rural Development?

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Nearly 30 rural organizations — from the National Rural Health Association to the South Delta Regional Housing Authority — have signed a letter asking President Obama to include rural development in his upcoming State of the Union address. The full letter is here.

The letter says in part:

In your first State of the Union, you noted that “small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard” by the recession. What was true then is still true today: rural communities across America are struggling to rebuild in the wake of closed factories, empty Main streets, and record unemployment that exceeds the national average. Many rural Americans lack access to basic necessities, like clean drinking water, sanitary sewers, local healthcare facilities, and adequate fire and police protection.

So, as you prepare for your upcoming State of the Union Address, we ask you to remember the roughly 50 million Americans who live in rural areas. We ask that in your address, you publicly commit to working with Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill in a way that revitalizes the rural communities that form the backbone of our heartland.

A strong and robust Rural Development Title is critical to ensuring that rural entrepreneurs have access to the credit they need; that small-town utilities can continue to provide affordable water and sewer services to local residents; that small towns can build facilities essential for public health and safety; and that every American has access to high-speed broadband Internet.

(Note: the letter claims that rural unemployment is higher than urban unemployment. That hasn’t been true for some time. For most of the past year, the urban unemployment rate has been higher than either exurban or rural unemployment.)

• Dumb article of the day goes to Yahoo and its finding that agriculture was the #1 most “useless degree.” 

We’ve been reading that ag programs are filled to the brim with students. Well, here’s what Kelly Snowden, Yonder contributor, college professor and wife of a farm manager, has to say:

Yahoo has no understanding of just what exactly people who get degrees in those areas can do. They seem to think they are degrees to train people to dig holes, play with animals, and ride tractors. These degrees are the stepping stones to producing scientists who work in a wide variety of areas in ag and outside of ag. They do not have “limited skill sets” as stated in the article. They have no understanding of the types of jobs available in ag, and have no interest in looking at it.

Thanks Yahoo for promoting inaccurate and what I believe to be inherently biased information.

• Prosecutors in Florida and Kentucky say the pain pill pipeline is drying up. 

Bill Estep reports in the Lexington Herald-Leader that new rules in Florida, as well as increased prosecution, have helped stem the flow of prescription drugs from that state to Kentucky. In 2010, police estimated that 60 percent of the pills sold on the black market in Kentucky were prescribed by Florida doctors.

“I certainly get a sense that the Florida pipeline is starting to close off,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said.

• “We think that the Keystone pipeline will get built,” said Jamie Webster, a senior manager at the Washington consulting firm PFC Energy. “The caveat is that it might not be called the Keystone pipeline. The point is that there will be a way for these barrels to find a way to the United States.” 

So says a Washington Post article on the next step in the Keystone XL pipeline debate. The Obama administration turned down the initial application for a permit to pipe oil sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

But the Post tells us that a new application and pipeline route are coming. 

• You can find the archive of a “twitter conference” on rural philanthropy here

• Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell says he wants further study of a proposal to mine uranium in Southside, Virginia. He says a ban on mining should remain. 

• A survey of 194 rural Midwestern bankers has found the most expansive economy since 2007. 

The Rural Mainstreet Index is compiled by economist Ernie Goss at Creighton University. His survey of bankers is rated in a scale that is now at its highest point in more than four years.

 

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