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Rural Poverty on the Rise-Will the Farm Bill Respond?

In August the U.S. Census Bureau released new data from the American Community Survey showing that poverty in rural areas, particularly child poverty, continues to be a major societal problem.

From the 2000 Census to 2006 (the year of the recently released Census Bureau data), the overall non-metropolitan poverty rate increased from 13.4 percent to 15.2 percent (a 13 percent increase). Meanwhile, metropolitan poverty rates also increased, but at a slower rate (and have declined since 2003).

Congress Hears from Constituents on Farm Bill

In August, while Congress was on a month-long recess, we didn’t give members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committee much of a break. We mounted an effort to encourage their constituents to turn out to their elected officials’ public events.

When they returned to Washington, D.C. on September 1, we didn’t give them a break either. Mike Korth and Kevin Raun, farmers from Nebraska, joined us for meetings on the Hill to talk about the farm bill.

Nebraska Hearings on Initiative 300

States can still place tough restrictions on corporate farming as long as they don’t discriminate against farmers from other states.

That was the Center’s message to Nebraska legislators at a recent hearing on corporate farming. Federal courts have struck down corporate farm laws in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Now the North Dakota law is under attack.

CORPORATE FARMING NOTES

As reported in Alan Guebert’s Farm and Food File, the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended earlier this year that the EPA recover nearly $25.2 million of the $25.4 million granted to America’s Clean Water Foundation in three federal grants between 1998 and 2003. The grants were awarded “to perform environmental risk assessments at agricultural facilities,” according to documents on the EPA Office of Inspector General’s website.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Health Insurance

The Access Project, a Boston-based research affiliate of the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University recently released a report detailing the health insurance status of non-corporate farm and ranch operators in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Findings from these seven states include:

Nearly all farm and ranch households have health insurance and are insured at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Over 90 percent of respondents said all members of their household were continuously insured in the past year. That compares to 72 percent of adults nationally.

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