Rural News Went Nuts This Week. Here’s the Recap.
This is one of those weeks — or maybe it’s like this at the end of April every year — where the pace of action in rural life gets a bit out of hand. State legislative sessions are winding down, hence the real urgency for action begins before the clock runs out. Youth baseball and soccer seasons are kicking into high gear, as well as the 4-H project calendar. Farmers are either knee deep in planting season or worried about getting into the field. Maybe the mushrooms are out or the fish are biting in your area. Maybe the school year is coming crashing to completion.
The rural news went nuts this week as well, so rather than focus on a specific topic I’ll just provide you with a down-and-dirty recap of Keep It Rural favorites. Here goes:
- The White House added the Rural Partners Network to its Rural Playbook and Rural Infrastructure Tour. This additional effort, announced last week, adds USDA staff and resources to assist communities with landing federal grant dollars for local infrastructure and economic development projects.
- Big SNAP nutrition assistance cuts are on the way unless Congress acts now, according to FRAC. SNAP benefit redemptions topped a record $125 billion in FY 2021, USDA reported last week, representing a 61% increase over FY 2020. Redemptions will plummet unless Congress and the White House extend Covid-19 SNAP increases. SNAP is one of the largest anti-poverty programs serving rural America, and helps to keep rural grocers in operation while creating numerous rural jobs.
- The USA is exporting its capital-intensive agricultural system, with very little success found by farmers in the Global South. Retired dairy farmer and farm movement leader from Wisconsin, Jim Goodman, has a lot to say in this Earth Day message about the failures of corporate-agribusiness-oriented commodity agriculture to take root in other countries.
- Proposed carbon dioxide pipelines in the Upper Midwest are facing big opposition from rural people. New reporting from The American Prospect and Reuters documents the growing revolt of rural people against CO2 pipelines as well as the political connections of pipeline developers.
- President Biden announced an Executive Order on Forests. Among other forest issues, the White House is taking action to preserve some old growth and mature forests, address the increasing reality of wildfires in rural areas, and direct conservation scientists to study forests as a solution to climate change.
We’ll keep following and updating you on these and other issues here at Keep It Rural. Let us know what’s up in your patch of rural America.
Rural Reading List
In addition to the updates and topics above, here are some reading selections for you from the wealth of rural news and information published this past week:
Conservation programs for farmers are popular, both from farmers themselves wanting to use the programs and from polls documenting conservation program support from non-farmers. I got to dig into this issue for Daily Yonder this week, courtesy of a report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
A look at women-as-farmers by the Daily Yonder, focusing on the critical work of gender equity in farming. And yes, this is one of the most important issues facing agriculture these days.
The New Republic reviews the book Heaven Is a Place On Earth, a chronicle of rural gentrification in New York’s Catskills region.
The Elliott State Forest in Southwest Oregon was once slated for sale to a timber company. But after years of negotiation — and a state investment in rural schools to replace future projected revenue through logging and development — the 93,000-acre forest is going to continue to be owned and managed by the state and land grant university.
One More Thing: A Spring Love Song From Willie.
A lot of us go to counting our blessings in the springtime, a fine thing to do when the redbuds are blossoming and the mayapples are popping in the woods. For me, there is no finer celebration of the natural world than a love song. And there’s no finer artist to celebrate with than Willie Nelson.
I urge you to take a minute and listen to Willie perform one of his newer creations, “First Rose of Spring.” Because whoa baby, check out these lyrics:
Auburn hair like a sunrise
Sweetest smile he’d ever seen
Butterflies, they danced around her
Like the first rose of spring
Summertime would’ve never started
And wintertime would never end
She colored his life, opened his eyes
To things he’d never dream
Without the first rose of spring
That’s it, right there, Keep It Rural friends. Enjoy the fleeting April, and we’ll be back with you in May (next week).