"The Biden administration has only appointed 22 state directors for the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency and Rural Development branch, out of more than 100 open spots, a major delay compared to the Trump administration," Ximena Bustillo reports for Politico's Weekly Agriculture. "At this point in the Trump administration,nearly every state position was announced
|Screenshot of interactive plotter graphs shows how a higher vote for Donald Trump in 2020 correlates with a lower Covid-19 vaccination rate (left) and a higher Covid-19 death rate. In this example, Jackson County, Kentucky, which went 89% for Trump, follows trendlines created by the averages. For a larger image, click on it; for the interactive database, click here.|
"Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from Covid-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden," Daniel Wood and Geoff Brumfiel report for NPR.
"The trend was robust, even when controlling for age, which is the primary demographic risk," NPR reports. "The data also reveal a major contributing factor to the death-rate difference: The higher the vote share for Trump, the lower the vaccination rate. The analysis only looked at the geographic location of Covid-19 deaths. The exact political views of each person taken by the disease remains unknowable. But the strength of the association, combined with polling information about vaccination, strongly suggests that Republicans are being disproportionately affected."
"It was not always this way," NPR reports. "Earlier in the pandemic, many different groups expressed hesitancy toward getting vaccinated. African Americans, younger Americans and rural Americans all had significant portions of their demographic that resisted vaccination. But over time, the vaccination rates in those demographics have risen, while the rate of Republican vaccination . . . has flatlined at just 59%, according to the latest numbers from Kaiser . . . 91% of Democrats are vaccinated."
Jefferson County rancher Phil Perry of Oskaloosa, Kansas moved up to president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) during the group’s an…
A new president has been elected to the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. Dan Glessing, who served as vice president for seven years, ran for …
County voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 103rd Annual Meeting elected Dan Glessing of Waverly in Wright County…
|NBC News chart compares races for governor.|
Some Democrats believed their rural vote "had already bottomed out, especially during the Trump era, when Republicans had run up the numbers of white voters in rural areas to dizzying new heights. Virginia, however, is proof it can get worse," Astead Herndon and Shane Goldmacher write for The New York Times. "In 2008, there were only four small Virginia counties where Republicans won 70% or more . . . Youngkin was above 70% in 45 counties, and he surpassed 80% in 15."
|Red shift: Chart of Virginia counties and independent cities' vote by The Washington Post; click on it to enlarge.|
Rural voters' voices were plainly heard in statewide elections Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey.
"Rural America roars again," read a subhead on a Politico story that gave rural voters' strong turnout part of the credit for Republican Glenn Youngkin's 2.5-percentage-point defeat of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the governor's race. "In counties throughout rural Virginia, Youngkin ran even with or, often, ahead" of Donald Trump's performance last year, Steven Shepard and David Siders report.
The standout example of that was Bedford County, between Roanoke and Lynchburg, where Youngkin got 79 percent of the vote, 6 points better than Trump. "Moreover, turnout in many of these counties easily surpassed the last governor’s race four years ago, a sign that Trump’s base was motivated to turn out without Trump on the ticket himself, or even an in-person Trump rally," Politico reports. "The other side of that coin: Democratic candidates continue to sink to new lows in rural areas, especially among white voters. According to exit polls, Youngkin won white voters without a college degree — who are overrepresented in rural areas — by a 3-to-1 margin, 76 percent to 24 percent." Trump's 2020 edge among them was 62-38..
Anecdotal evidence showed voters punished McAuliffe for saying "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach," but the result -- and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's narrow escape in a race that wasn't rated as close -- sparked analysis and recriminations.
"I don't think Democrats are comfortable campaigning in rural America, and they don't go, and it becomes self-fulfilling," NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd told House Democratic Whip James Clyburn on "MTP Daily."
Clyburn told Todd that the key for Democrats to regain rural traction is to do something for them, such as the $65 billion for broadband in the House spending bill: "If people knew they had this coming, and felt comfortable with it, we would have a better message to deliver in rural America."
Rural Voices USA, a network that says it is "working to advocate, communicate, and hold policy makers accountable for rural issues," said likewise: “The disconnect between rural America and Washington, D.C. only continues to widen. The divide is evident in one-sided election results in rural counites that are increasingly frustrated they are not being heard and that lawmakers are not delivering on their priorities. . . . After passing those key pieces of legislation, lawmakers must get out into rural communities and actually talk about what those bills do. We need meaningful engagement on how universal preschool will create opportunities for rural parents and kids, how construction projects will create good jobs locally, how broadband will expand in their communities and more. The only way smart rural policy beats cynicism about government and far-right-wing talking points is if rural folks can feel and see it in their everyday lives.”
But longtime political analyst Jeff Greenfield wrote for Politico that Youngkin won on the school issue, and the "real lesson for Republicans on Tuesday" is that "One of their most powerful political assets is alive and well: the power of cultural issues over policies."
In a similar vein, Clyburn also said his party is perceived as too cosmopolitan, and Democratic strategist James Carville said that much more strongly on PBS NewsHour. He said Youngkin never mentioned Biden, and voters are reacting to "left-wing nonsense" by "woke" progressives. "What went wrong is this stupid wokeness," Carville said. "Some of these people need to go to a woke detox center or something. . . . They're suppressing our vote."
Former U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican, agreed, saying rural and suburban women liked the optimistic Youngkin better than Trump, "the surly sore loser who hopefully is in the rear-view mirror now." She might be accused of wishful thinking.
|Bloomberg graph, adapted by The Rural Blog|
Burning coal for energy in the United States has rebounded under President Biden in a way it never did under Donald Trump, who promised to revive the industry, Will Wade of Bloombergreports
"U.S. power plants are on track to burn 23% more coal this year, the first increase since 2013, despite Biden’s ambitious plan to eliminate carbon emissions from the power grid. The rebound comes after consumption by utilities plunged 36% under Trump, who slashed environmental regulations in anunsuccessful
effort to boost the fuel," Wade reports.
"President Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday designed to affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing," The Washington Postreports
. "Biden also said that he would require most health-care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their employees, which the White House believes will cover 50,000 locations." That includes outpatient facilities like dialysis clinics and home health agencies.
The announcement drew immediate criticism from many, including some Republican governors, The Associated Press reports. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has asked his attorney general to fight the mandate when it is put into effect, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is considering a special legislative session to challenge the mandate. Biden called such governors "cavalier" with the health of children and of their communities for resisting the mandates.
President Biden has made remarks "that haven't always squared with the facts" in defending how he has handled withdrawal of U.S. forces and citizens from Afghanistan, FactCheck.orgreports
Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that his decision to withdraw completely went against the advice of top military advisers, who wanted him to keep about 2,500 troops. "It was split," Biden said. "That wasn’t true." Stephanopoulos asked, "They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?" and Biden replied, "No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that." Stephanopoulos pressed the case, and Biden denied that he could not recall anyone telling him that 2,500 troops should remain.
"We don’t know what exactly Biden’s top military advisors may have told him in private conversations, or whether their recommendations may have changed over time," Fact Check reports, but says Biden’s account is contradicted by reporting fromThe New York Times
,The Washington Post
andThe Wall Street Journal
, and a publicFeb. 3 report
from the Afghanistan Study Group created by Congress recommended against troop withdrawal unless the Taliban met conditions set in awithdrawal agreement
the Trump administration reached with the Taliban in February 2020.
Biden claimed that the concept of “nation building” in Afghanistan “never made any sense” to him, but he publicly favored it in the early 2000s, FactCheck notes: "In a 2001 interview, he was asked if the U.S. should “be in the business of nation building” in Afghanistan 'if and when the Taliban falls.' Biden replied, 'Absolutely, along with the rest of the world.'"
Screenshot of interactive CDC map; click in to enlarge. Mississippi has the lowest rate. Interactive site has rates by county.
Dale Lee Hildebrant, 73, Valley City, and formerly of Rogers, died Monday, June 14 at Mercy Hospital, Valley City. A funeral service will be h…
"The Biden administration has plans to roll out a new proposal for federal clean-water regulations, working to undo moves by the Trump adminis…
The North Dakota CattleWomen (NDCW) are planning a special convention in 2021 for their 70th anniversary. The organization’s state meeting wil…
Electing a new president hasn’t happened very often in recent Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) history.
"We urge the new administration to take strong stances in support of rural America."
Dear Michael: It looks like we have a new president in Joe Biden. What does this mean for estate planning? Are we going back to income and est…
A collection of editorial cartoons featuring Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden from Wisconsin State Journal cartoonist Phil Hands.