[imgcontainer left] [img:ZZ1EBCD4D4.jpeg] Dennis Quaid plays an Iowa farmer who is both cheating on his wife and on the mega-seed company that is changing the way he does his work. The film premiered in Venice (Italy, that is) last week. [/imgcontainer]

The executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party says that much of his party’s national platform concerns the cities and he’s urging that more attention be paid to rural America. 

“The needs of rural America are great,” said Rickey Cole, executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “There’s a great sense of desperation on the part of rural Mississippians.”

“If we invest in rural America … then we create a human and material infrastructure that can sustain our country,” Cole said. “You can’t grow too many tomatoes on a New York City rooftop.”

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the Democratic delegation to the national convention will be both younger and more rural, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. 

“One of the reasons I ran is I felt that more people from rural America, and especially young people from rural America, weren’t very well represented,” said 26-year-old Justin Conley, of Franklin, in the state’s western mountain region.

Conley “said rural voters have both good reason to back the Democrats and to be disenchanted with it,” the newspaper reported. “Rural areas have yet to recover from the recession, and unemployment remains disproportionately high. But rural areas were harder hit by Republican-led cutbacks, he said, noting that for every dollar added in those places 80 cents was removed from programs.

Rural Movie Premiers in Venice — Yes, there is a Hollywood film debuting at the Venice Film Festival about, among other things, seed cleaning. 

The movie is called “At Any Price” and it stars Dennis Quaid as a fourth generation Iowa farmer, Henry Whipple. The Washington Post reports that farmer Whipple is “cheating on both his wife, with former cheerleader Meredith played by Heather Graham, and on the big genetically modified seed company that supplies him by illegally cleaning seeds to resell.”

Whipple’s son wants to race cars and the market is telling the farmer that he needs to “expand or die.” 

“I spent a lot of time in GPS-controlled air conditioned tractors with farmers And it became like a therapy session where they would tell me their stories. And yes, some of their stories were about infidelity,” said movie director Ramin Bahrani. “And in small towns everybody knows. But you’re going to do what? Get divorced and marry who? The town had 500 people in it. You had to stick with the family. No matter what, you had to stick with the family.’”

The film premiered Friday in Italy.

Higher Speed, More Deaths — Since the speed limit was increased on rural interstate highways in rural Iowa seven years ago, deaths have gone up

The number of deaths have risen on the interstates, where the speed limit was raised five miles per hour, to 70. Overall in Iowa, highway deaths are down.

YouTube video

What’s the WPA Done for You? — The University of Kentucky is celebrating its new collection of papers and photographs chronicling the Works Progress Administration, the Depression-era federal program that put 8 million people to work between 1935 and 1943.

The WPA project contains more than 2,000 pieces. The online version of the collection can be found here.  Above, you can see a film clip showing road construction and water projects of the WPA in rural communities.

Farm Bill Extension — Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley wants a new Farm Bill, but he says it’s most likely that the old bill will be extended, reports Chris Clayton. 

Rural Vet Services — President Obama signed an executive order Friday that directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand mental health services and suicide prevention efforts, reports Stars and Stripes. 

The VA has “also been ordered to develop a plan for rural areas, which are lacking in all health services,” reports Megan McCloskey.

Health Benefits of Organic? — A Stanford University researcher reviewed nearly 250 studies and evaluations of foods and found that there were little real benefits in organic foods compared to conventionally-farmed products. 

Crystal Smith-Spangler’s study was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Here are some of her findings:

— Eating organic produce may reduce exposure to pesticides by 30 percent, but the levels of pesticides in both organic and conventional produce are well within limits thought to be safe.

— Organic and conventional products had equal chance of being contaminated by bacteria.

— The only nutrient found in greater amounts in organic produce was phosphorus. However, there are very few cases of phosphorus deficiency.

Call for Rural Alaska Votes — Carey Restino writes in The Arctic Sounder that rural Alaskans should vote for strong Coastal Zone legislation in an election this October: 

Rural Alaska communities have a chance to get it right in October, however – to show the rest of the state that they are aware of their history, and are not going to sit idle while the rest of the state makes decisions for them. I urge voters to take to the polls in great numbers this fall and be active and informed about the issues they will face in coming months and years. Because no one is going to protect your interests if you aren’t paying attention. Yes, it’s an uphill battle, even for those fighting hard. But positive change is possible. And it’s certainly worth the effort. The alternative is pretty dim.

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