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Suzette's Letter, May 19, 2018

PUBLICATIONS

  1. Economic Conditions and Program Policy Help Drive Average SNAP Benefit Levels

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income households with monthly benefits to supplement their resources for purchasing food. Benefit amounts increase with household size and decrease with household income. Between 1980 and 2017, average monthly benefits grew from $34 per person to $126 per person. Much of this increase reflects the fact that SNAP benefit levels are updated annually for food price inflation so that their purchasing power does not erode. However, even when benefits are adjusted for inflation, average per person benefits rise and fall as characteristics of SNAP households, such as income, change in response to economic conditions and policy changes. Measured in 2017 dollars to adjust for inflation, average monthly SNAP benefits increased from $99 per person in 1980 to $119 in 2008. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided all recipients with increased SNAP benefits, and average inflation-adjusted SNAP benefits jumped to $143 per person in that year, climbed to $152 in 2010, and then began falling as the ARRA increase was phased out and economic conditions improved. Inflation-adjusted and nominal benefit amounts have been similar in the past few years, as food price increases have been small.

 

  1. Center for American Progress “A Compass for Families: Head Start in Rural America Report”

“A Compass for Families: Head Start in Rural America Report” details the importance of Head Start programs to rural communities. The report details the services Head Start provides for rural families, such as child care, connection to health services, and transportation, among others, and features county level data and rural-urban comparisons.

  1. Distance to Grocery Stores and Vehicle Access Affect Low-Income Shoppers’ Food Spending

Difficulty accessing large grocery stores may increase a household's reliance on smaller stores and restaurants, possibly resulting in a diet of low-nutritional quality and related health problems. ERS researchers used data captured in USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to examine if differences in how far low-income households live from large grocery stores and whether they own a car influences their food spending behaviors. Among low-income households, the researchers found that access-burdened and sufficient-access households spent similar shares of their weekly food spending at grocery stores (57-58 percent) and at small grocery, ethnic, and specialty food stores (3-5 percent). Differences between the two low-income access groups did arise in spending at convenience, dollar, drug, and other small stores and at eating places. Access-burdened households spent a higher share of their food expenditures at convenience, dollar, drug, and other small stores than sufficient-access households and a smaller share of their food budgets at eating places. In 2012, 26.4 percent of U.S. households were low-income sufficient-access households and 4.7 percent were low-income access-burdened.

  1. Emergency Preparedness and Recovery: A Toolkit for Rural Communities

Planners4Health has published “Emergency Preparedness and Recovery: A Toolkit for Rural Communities” that provides information and resources to assist a long term recovery group (LTRG) responding to a disaster and implementing recovery plans in a rural community. The Toolkit addresses the infrastructure and health needs of rural residents in a disaster.

  1. Small Family Farms Accounted for Half the Farmland, But Only 23 Percent of Production

In 2016, 99 percent of U.S. farms were family farms, where the principal operator and his or her relatives owned the majority of the business. Small family farms—those with less than $350,000 in annual gross cash farm income (GCFI)—accounted for about 90 percent of U.S. farms, half of all farmland, and a quarter of the value of production. By comparison, large-scale family farms—those with $1 million or more in GCFI—made up only 3 percent of U.S. farms and 18 percent of farmland, but contributed 45 percent of production. Nonfamily farms, such as partnerships of unrelated partners and corporations, accounted for just 1 percent of U.S. farms and 10 percent of production. The 19 percent of nonfamily farms with GCFI of $1 million or more accounted for 88 percent of all nonfamily farms’ production.

  1. Kresge Foundation Journey to Creative Placemaking

Lessons from the Kresge Foundation’s Journey to Creative Placemaking – the integration of arts, culture, and resident-engaged design into community development and planning – are highlighted in a series of white papers launched recently by the Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program. The papers are geared toward helping grantmakers and creative placemaking practitioners more successfully integrate arts and culture into community development

  1. Low-Income Households Are Less Likely to Use Nutrition Information than Higher Income Households

A new ERS study used nine questions from USDA’s 2012-13 National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to create a Nutrition Information Use index. The index is based on answers from FoodAPS primary respondents related to their awareness and use of various nutrition education initiatives, such as USDA’s MyPlate guidance and Nutrition Facts labels. The index summarizes the answer scores into one score, giving more weight to more important questions. When answers to questions with more weight are above average (e.g., the person uses Nutrition Facts labels all the time), the score is positive. If the answers are below average (e.g., the person never uses Nutrition Facts labels), the score is negative. Index scores for FoodAPS households ranged from -2.3 to 3.9, with a higher score indicating a greater use of nutrition information. The average score for all households was 0.23, and 58 percent of households had scores between -1.0 and 1.0. Higher income households that did not participate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) had an average index score that was two and half times higher than SNAP households and low-income non-SNAP households. However, index score differences did not seem to explain why higher income non-SNAP households’ food purchases were more healthful than the other two groups.

  1. Rural Child Poverty Map Was Most Concentrated in the Mississippi Delta

About one in four (23.5 percent) rural children in the United States were poor in 2016, compared to about one in five (20.5 percent) of urban children. Forty-one counties in the U.S. had child poverty rates of 50 percent or higher on average between 2012 and 2016. Thirty-eight of these counties were rural (nonmetro) counties, heavily clustered in the South (31 out of 38). The rural counties with the highest child poverty rates were Mellette County, South Dakota (70.9 percent); Issaquena County, Mississippi (68.7 percent); and East Carroll Parish, Louisiana (68.4 percent). Thirteen of the rural counties with child poverty rates of 50 percent or higher were in Mississippi—mainly along the Mississippi Delta region where child poverty rates have been persistently high, particularly among the black or African American child population.

  1. Mellon Foundation “Museums as Economic Engines: A National Report

To understand the role museums play in our economy, the Mellon Foundation supported a study by the American Alliance of Museums and Oxford Economics called "Museums as Economic Engines: A National Report." The report says that museums serve as economic engines, contributing $50 billion to the U.S. GDP, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues across the country.

  1. As Income Rises, Households Tend to Devote a Larger Share of Their At-Home Food Spending to Vegetables

ERS researchers used household-level data from Information Resources Inc. to investigate how food spending patterns differ by household income and age of the household food shopper. The researchers found that as per person income rises, households spend a larger portion of their at-home food expenditures on vegetables. This was true for all four generations examined, though the increase for Traditionalists was small. Poorer Millennials assigned lower shares of at-home food spending to vegetables than Traditionalists and Baby Boomers with similar incomes. Millennials with higher incomes apportioned more of their food budgets to vegetables, surpassing Traditionalists when per capita household income was around $30,000. The wealthiest Millennial households (per capita income greater than $50,000) dedicated about 8 percent of their food budgets to vegetables, compared to around 6 percent for the other generation groups in the same income decile. The rise in vegetable purchases among wealthier Millennials may reflect Millennials’ preference for healthy foods.

  1. Farm Share of U.S. Food Dollar Declined Again in 2016

On average, U.S. farmers received 14.8 cents for farm commodity sales from each dollar spent on domestically-produced food in 2016, down from 15.5 cents in 2015. Known as the farm share, this amount is at its lowest level for the period 1993 to 2016, and coincides with a steep drop in 2016 average prices received by U.S. farmers, as measured by the Producer Price Index for farm products. ERS uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar, including food purchased at grocery stores and at restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating out places. 2016 was the fifth consecutive year that the farm share has declined, though the 4.5-percent drop in 2016 was below 2015’s 9.9-percent fall. The drop in farm share also coincides with five consecutive years of increases in the share of food dollars paying for services provided by the foodservice industry. Since farmers receive a smaller share from eating out dollars, due to the added costs for preparing and serving meals, more food-away-from-home spending will also drive down the farm share.

EVENTS/LEARNING

  1. USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Website

Assistant to the Secretary for USDA Rural Development Anne Hazlett unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity. The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships, and promote economic development in rural America.

  1. Utilizing Section 538 for Preservation and Rehabilitation of Section 515 Rental Housing Webinar

Housing Assistance Council is offering a webinar on USDA’s Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program-Part II, Utilizing Section 538 for Preservation and Rehabilitation of Section 515 Rental Housing, on June 6, 2018 at 2:00 PM EDT.

Suzette's Letter, May 2018

Public Meetings, Events and Training

NEW! May 9 Webinar: EDA to Host Disaster Supplemental NOFO Stakeholder Conversation to Discuss Availability of $587 Million for Eligible Entities

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has made available $587 million for grants to eligible entities to address economic challenges in areas receiving a major disaster designation as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and wildfires and other 2017 natural disasters.

Please join EDA on Wednesday, May 9, from 3 to 4 pm ET, for a webinar on EDA’s 2018 Disaster Supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity.

When Wednesday, May 9, at 3 to 4 pm ET

Who: All interested parties are invited to the webinar, including local, state, regional and federal agencies, economic development districts, Indian Tribes, non-profit organizations, trade associations, universities, and other stakeholder groups.

You must register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/a65fe2afc2ad403cdc2040ba88984b7b

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For more information, please visit EDA's Disaster Supplemental Funding page.

June 8 Meeting - Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee

The Census Bureau has announced a meeting of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee (FESAC). The Committee advises the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, the Directors of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Census Bureau, and the Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on statistical

methodology and other technical matters related to the collection, tabulation, and analysis

of federal economic statistics.

The June 8 meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m at the U.S. Census Bureau Conference Center,4600 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746. Register by Friday, June 1, 2018 at: https://www.regonline.com/fesac_june2018_meeting. An agenda will be accessible before the meeting at the following link: https://www.census.gov/fesac

Nov 6-7 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Conference, in Miami FL.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) granted FIU, and its partner New America, a cooperative agreement to host the annual National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Conference and Expo over the next five years.

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education led by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Commerce Department’s partnership between government, academia and the private sector focusing on cybersecurity education, training and workforce development. Its mission is to energize and promote a robust network and an ecosystem of cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.

The NICE Conference and Expo brings together leaders from public and private sectors to examine challenges and opportunities for higher education and industry to address growing cybersecurity workforce shortages. This year’s conference will be held in Miami, FL from November 6-7, with the conference expanding to other major cities around the U.S in the future.

For more information regarding the 2018 NICE Conference and Expo, visit www.NICEconference.org.

Reports, Tools and Data

NEW! EDA has essayed the activities of several RIS grantees this week:

  • · 2017 Regional Innovation Strategies grantee the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) has launched an annual seed fund and venture conference in Reno, Nevada to bring investors to the region and help provide early stage financing to the most promising local business startups in the area

https://www.eda.gov/success-stories/innovation-entrepreneurship/stories/reno-nv.htm

  • · In just over a year, EDA Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) grantees the Telluride Foundation and its Telluride Venture Accelerator have helped create an additional $13 million in capital for early stage ventures, specifically for companies located in rural and remote parts of Colorado. The additional capital raised complements their strategic effort to foster commercialization and entrepreneurship within the Southwest Innovation Corridor that connects new companies and entrepreneurs with diverse resources to maximize economic opportunity for the region. Telluride Angels and Telluride Venture Fund are two of the only early-stage investment funds in Colorado’s southwest region and have helped surface high, early stage investment demand.

https://www.eda.gov/success-stories/innovation-entrepreneurship/stories/telluride-co.htm

 

Disaster Recovery Resources & Info

Primary site for Disaster Recovery Assistance: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

Funding Assistance for Recovery Efforts:

EDA Issues NOFO for $587M in Supplemental Funding for Areas Impacted by 2017 Hurricanes, Wildfires and Other Disasters

As noted above, EDA has issued a NOFO (EDA-2018-DISASTER) inviting applications for $587 million in grants available to eligible entities to address economic challenges in disaster-impacted areas. These grants will support disaster recovery activities in areas receiving a major disaster designation as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and wildfires and other 2017 natural disasters. EDA plans to accept proposals on a rolling basis until all funds are obligated. See listing above and these links below for details:

HUD Awards Nearly $28 Billion to Help Nine States, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands from Major Disasters

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $28 billion to support long-term disaster recovery in hard-hit areas in nine states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These funds are provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program and will address seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure from major disasters that occurred since 2015.

The grants announced by HUD represent the largest single amount of disaster recovery assistance in HUD’s history and include more than $12 billion for major disasters that occurred in 2017 and nearly $16 billion to support ‘mitigation’ activities in areas that experienced major Presidentially declared disasters since 2015.  Mitigation can broadly be described as actions taken to protect communities from the predictable damage from future events.

The listing of all States and territories with subtotals and totals can be found at https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_18_028

USDA Announces $2.36 B Available through WHIP Program to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on April 6 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.

Full background: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/04/06/usda-implements-236-billion-help-agricultural-producers-recover

EPA Announces Puerto Rico Youth and the Environment Program – Apply by May 25

EPA-R2-CWD-FO-001: Puerto Rico Youth and the Environment Program. Posted 04/12/2018.

EPA Region 2 is soliciting grant applications from eligible applicants for the development of projects in Puerto Rico for eligible post-Hurricane Maria restoration activities in the (1) Vieques Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay; and (2) San Juan Bay Estuary, that involve training, studies and/or demonstrations relating to the reduction of the sedimentation load; elimination of water pollution; and/or the development of an environmental education program and materials through the Youth and the Environment program. Project activities may include, but are not limited to the training of no fewer than 2 ten (10) youths in their respective communities of Vieques and San Juan Bay. The youths will work 10 hours each week for 16 weeks, and will be employed from June to October. The young participants who are recruited will be trained primarily on environmental and community assessment, skills development and mentorship. Eligible activities must support the post-Hurricane Maria environmental restoration and relief effort.  Link to Additional Information https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=303173

USDA FY18 Conservation Innovation Grants Avail for PR and USVI

USDA-NRCS-PR-CIG-001  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has posted a Funding Opportunity for its FY18 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) – Caribbean Area. Applications will be accepted from eligible entities for projects carried out in the USDA Caribbean Area: Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. CIG grants are designed to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. A total of up to $250,000.00 is available for CIG in FY 2018. The maximum for a single award is $75,000.00.  FY18 Proposals must explicitly state which priority(ies) and sub-prority(ies) are being addressed. Caribbean Area CIG Priorities for FY 2018 are:

  1. 1. Steep land Agricultural Technology;
  2. 2. Renewable energy on Agricultural Enterprises and
  3. 3. Risk Prevention and Management of Natural Resources affected by Natural Disasters.

See full announcement for subpriorities and additional instructions: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=302405

APPLICATIONS DUE by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on May 30, 2018. Submit electronically through grants.gov. In addition, a PDF of the complete application must be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Related Resources - NonFederal:

Updates on FEMA Response in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

Where to Find Federal Disaster Declarations

  • · Is your home, business or community included in a federally declared emergency or disaster area? You can find the latest federal emergency and disaster declarations, as well as prior declarations for other areas, on FEMA's disaster declarations webpage.  

Amended Declarations

Existing Declarations may be subsequently amended to expand covered areas, provide notification that an incident has been closed, or make other necessary changes. 

These are posted in the Federal Register here: https://www.federalregister.gov/agencies/federal-emergency-management-agency#documents 

Economic Recovery Support

Read more about the Economic Recovery Support Function and the National Disaster Response Framework here: https://www.eda.gov/programs/disaster-recovery/

Suzette's Letter, April 2018

PUBLICATIONS

  1. Number of stores authorized to accept SNAP benefits grew by over 50 percent in the last decade

In 2016, low-income participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received an average of about $126 in benefits each month to purchase eligible food items in authorized retail food stores. To become an authorized SNAP store, retailers are required to meet various criteria based in part on the types of food offered for sale. As of September 2016, over a quarter million (260,115) food retailers were authorized to redeem SNAP benefits. From 2007 to 2013, the number of SNAP-authorized stores grew by 53 percent. This increase coincided with a sharp rise in the number of SNAP participants that was largely due to the economic downturn, including the Great Recession of 2007-09, which increased demand for food assistance. Much of the growth in the number of SNAP stores was the result of more convenience stores applying for and receiving authorization to accept SNAP benefits. The number of SNAP-authorized convenience stores doubled from 2007 to 2016. By 2016, convenience stores accounted for 45 percent of all SNAP-authorized stores, but these stores accounted for just 6 percent of SNAP redemptions.

 

  1. Multiple-adult households without children account for over a quarter of U.S. food-insecure households

The prevalence of food insecurity—having difficulty providing enough food for all household members at some time during the year—varies across U.S. demographic groups. While some types of households may be less likely to be food insecure, the household groups could be so large that the households in the groups who are experiencing food insecurity make up a large share of all food-insecure households. For example, multiple-adult households without children had a lower food insecurity prevalence (8.0 percent) than single-mother households (31.6 percent) and single-father households (21.7 percent) in 2016. However, in the Nation as a whole, multiple-adult households without children—households that include married and unmarried couples with no children, or grown children, as well as households made up of relatives or roommates over the age of 18—are more numerous than single-parent households, so these multiple-adult households make up a larger share of all food-insecure households. In 2016, multiple-adult households without children accounted for 27 percent of all food-insecure households; single-mother households accounted for 20 percent; and single-father households accounted for 4 percent.

  1. Households that buy fruits and vegetables directly from farmers tend to possess health-oriented attitudes and behaviors

A recent ERS study analyzed spending on fruits and vegetables by the 4,826 households that participated in USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS). Among these households, 170 bought some of their fruits and vegetables directly from farmers at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, or other direct-to-consumer (DTC) outlets during their week of participation in the survey. Another 3,388 households bought fruits and vegetables exclusively at nondirect food stores. The researchers found that purchasing fruits and vegetables at a DTC outlet was positively associated with several healthy practices. For example, people buying fruits and vegetables directly from farmers were more likely to have a vegetable garden (45 versus 25 percent of non-DTC shoppers), to be aware of USDA’s MyPlate campaign to promote Federal dietary guidance, and to search the internet for information on healthy eating. Households that bought fruits and vegetables directly from farmers were also more likely to rate the healthfulness of their diets as excellent or very good.

 

  1. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. farms run by multiple operators

Commercial-sized farms often require more management and labor than an individual can provide. Additional operators can offer these and other resources, such as capital or farmland. Having a secondary operator may also provide a successor when an older principal operator phases out of farming. In 2016, nearly 40 percent of all U.S. farms had a multiple operators. Because nearly all farms are family owned, family members often serve as secondary operators. For example, 64 percent of secondary operators were spouses of principal operators. Some multiple-operator farms were also run by multiple generations, with a difference of at least 20 years between the ages of the youngest and oldest operators. These multiple-generation farms accounted for about 7 percent of all U.S. farms. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms were more likely to be operated by multiple generations, at about 20-25 percent of those farms. However, the operators in nonfamily multiple-generation farms were likely unrelated managers from different generations.

 

  1. SNAP policy index captures trends in State policies for administering SNAP

USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the Nation's largest food assistance program. For much of the program's history, administration of SNAP was largely uniform across States. However, welfare reform legislation in 1996 and subsequent legislative and regulatory changes have allowed States increased flexibility to administer some components of the program. ERS researchers recently developed an index that reflects how accommodative, or encouraging, State policies are to enrolling individuals in SNAP. This SNAP policy index is composed of 10 State policies related to eligibility, ease of enrolling and participating, participation stigma, and outreach to attract new participants. The index ranges between 1 and 10, with a higher number indicating more accommodative policies are in place. For the Nation as a whole, the index grew steadily from 1997 to 2014, meaning that States tended to adopt policies encouraging enrollment. Between 1997 and 2000, policies that relaxed eligibility and reduced stigma played the largest roles in the rising index. After 2000, policies that made enrolling and remaining in the program easier played a larger role.

  1. Elder veterans relied more on agriculture for employment, while working age veterans relied more on manufacturing

Nearly 19 million veterans lived in the United States in 2015. Almost 18 percent of them lived in rural (nonmetro) counties, compared to 15 percent of the U.S. adult civilian population. About 45 percent of rural veterans were working age (18 to 64 years old); the rest were elder veterans (65 years or older). Overall, about 21 percent of elder rural veterans reported currently working (full- or part-time) or having last worked (if retired or unemployed) in the agriculture industry. By comparison, less than 3 percent of working-age veterans reported the same. Instead, working-age veterans relied more on the manufacturing industry for employment. About 19 percent of working age veterans reported currently working or having last worked in manufacturing, compared to 7 percent of elder veterans. Both working age and elder veterans relied about equally for employment in some industries —including education and health, wholesale and retail trade, and construction.

EVENTS/LEARNING

  1. Hospitals are healing communities

Hospitals can tackle food insecurity, obesity, and chronic disease while promoting healthy, local, and sustainable food systems. Created with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Health Care Without Harm’s “Delivering community benefit: Healthy food playbook” inspires and supports hospital community benefit professionals and community partners in developing initiatives to promote healthy food access and healthy, local and sustainable food systems. The playbook offers resources to address diet-related community health needs throughout the community health engagement process. The playbook features case studies from leading hospitals from across the country and 25 guidance resources that support community health needs assessments; developing implementation strategies; and evaluating, reporting, and communicating results.

  1. USDA Webinars Regarding the Community Connect Grant Program

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will host webinars focused on the Community Connect Grant Program. These webinars will inform participants about the major eligibility and regulatory requirements of the program and will provide detailed guidance on how to submit a successful application. There will also be time for participants to ask the speakers specific questions about putting together an application. On March 15th, the Community Connect Grant Program's Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) was published in the Federal Register.  A copy can be found here. You can register for the April 5th session here and the April 10th session here. We recommend you do this registration early and run a system check to ensure quick access on the day of the webinar.

  1. USDA Webinars Regarding the Community Connect Grant Program Environmental Requirements - FY2018

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will host webinars focused on environmental requirements for the Community Connect Grant Program. These webinars will inform participants about the major environmental requirements of the Community Connect Program. There will also be time for participants to ask the speakers specific questions on environmental reviews. You can register for the April 5th session here and the April 12th session here. We recommend you do this registration early and run a system check to ensure quick access on the day of the webinar.

  1. U.S. Dept. of Transportation - Putting SIBs, TIFIA and TIGER to Work in Your Community

CDFA is hosting a webinar on April 12th focused on the financing tools available through the US Department of Transportation. We have several great speakers lined up to participate, and if you haven't already registered, I hope you'll consider joining us. As you may already know, the recently passed federal spending bill allocates $1 billion to the TIGER program, making our upcoming webinar especially relevant to anyone considering applying for TIGER funds.

  1. National Good Food Network | Crafting Winning LFPP/FMPP Proposals

This webinar will explore best practices for planning and writing LFPP/FMPP proposals, emphasizing that designing effective and impactful goal-based programs is the foundation of successful grant applications. We will put special emphasis on addressing the opportunity's evaluation criteria, ensuring you put your best foot forward. This webinar will be geared to those who are less experienced in writing grant proposals, particularly proposals for US government grants. April 12th | 2PM EST

  1. National Good Food Network | National Food Hub Survey

Learn from an in-depth survey of food hubs across the US. Designed, run and analyzed by Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the Wallace Center and the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, this is truly the definitive word on food hubs in the US in 2017. April 19th | 3:30PM EST

USDA's Letter, February 14, 2018

PUBLICATIONS

  1. Counties with a higher number of independent grocery stores per capita are concentrated in rural areas

To examine the number and location of independent grocery stores, a recent ERS study used Nielsen’s TDLinx data on grocery stores—stores with a full line of major food departments and at least $1 million in sales. Independent grocery stores are those whose owners operate fewer than four stores. In 2015, 21,510 independent grocery stores generated $70 billion in sales, or 11 percent of U.S. grocery sales. The study found that independent grocery stores outnumber chain grocery stores in remote rural counties not adjacent to urban counties. In 2015, remote rural counties had an average of 2.1 independent grocery stores compared with 1.9 chain grocery stores. Of the 319 U.S. counties with more than three independent grocery stores for every 10,000 residents, 91 percent of them were remote rural counties or rural counties adjacent to an urban county. Close to half of these 319 counties were located in Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.

  1. In 2016, 81 percent of SNAP benefits were redeemed in super stores and supermarkets

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides participants with electronic benefits to purchase food in authorized retail food stores. In fiscal 2016, over $66 billion in SNAP benefits were redeemed, accounting for about 10 percent of the Nation’s spending on food at home. As of September 2016, 260,115 stores were authorized to accept SNAP. Convenience stores accounted for the largest share of SNAP stores (45 percent), but less than 6 percent of all SNAP benefits were redeemed in these smaller stores. Conversely, large super stores, which sell a wide variety of food and nonfood items, and supermarkets together accounted for only 14 percent of SNAP stores, but 81 percent of national SNAP redemptions. Super stores and supermarkets generally have a wider variety of foods and lower prices than smaller stores. Because SNAP benefits are for a fixed dollar amount, participants have an incentive to stretch their benefits by seeking out the best values when choosing where to spend their benefits.

  1. The regional composition of U.S. imports has remained stable over time

The share of U.S. agricultural imports from regions consisting primarily of developed economies remained stable from 1995 to 2015, at just over 60 percent. This contrasts with the destinations for U.S. agricultural exports, which shifted further toward developing regions. There was a compositional shift in import shares, however, from one developed region to another. In particular, a decline in the share of U.S. agricultural imports supplied by Europe was offset almost exactly by an increase in the share supplied by Canada and Mexico. Canada (a high-income economy) and Mexico (an upper-middle-income economy) are partners of the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), whose trade-liberalizing provisions were gradually applied to intraregional agricultural trade during the 1994-2007 period. With respect to other parts of the world, the import shares from fast-growing exporters in South America and the former Soviet Union declined, even as those regions increased their participation in the global agricultural market. There were modest increases in import shares from developing East Asia and South Asia, which is consistent with their growing roles in global trade.

  1. About half of rural counties now experiencing more deaths than births

Declining birth rates, increasing mortality rates among working-age adults, and an aging population have led to the emergence of natural decrease (more deaths than births) in hundreds of U.S. counties—most of them rural counties. During 2010-16, 325 rural counties experienced sustained natural decrease for the first time, adding to 645 rural counties with natural decrease during 2000-09. Areas that recently began experiencing natural decrease (the dark blue areas) are found in New England, northern Michigan, and high-poverty areas in the southern Coastal Plains. Such counties also are found in and around the margins of Appalachia, expanding a large region of natural decrease extending from Maine through northern Alabama. Between 2000 and 2016, over a thousand rural counties still experienced population growth from natural increase (more births than deaths).

  1. Households with obese children differ from those with no obese children

A recent ERS study used data from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to look at how households with at least one obese child differ from households without any obese children. The study found that the parents with obese children were less likely to be married, employed, or have a college degree. For example, the shares of fathers and mothers who were employed were lower among obese-child households (87 percent for fathers and 60 percent for mothers) relative to parents in nonobese-child households (93 percent for fathers and 63 percent for mothers). In addition, less than a quarter of fathers and mothers had a college degree or higher among obese-child households, whereas more than one third of fathers and mothers had the same level of education among nonobese-child households.

  1. 2020 Census Faces Challenges in Rural America Brief

New research from the Carsey School of Public Policy, in a brief named “2020 Census Faces Challenges in Rural America,” identifies rural areas where special outreach and operations will be needed to get a complete and accurate count. It also addresses key Census-related issues that will be important for rural leaders to monitor between now and April 1, 2020.

  1. Highlights from the 2016 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)

U.S. Census Bureau has released “Highlights from the 2016 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE),” which provides single-year median household income and poverty statistics. The report includes many county-level maps showing income and poverty rates in 2016 and changes from 2007 to 2016.

  1. Rural America in Crisis: The Changing Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report, “Rural America in Crisis: The Changing Opioid Overdose Epidemic.” Authors discuss the history of the opioid epidemic and its effect on rural communities, as well as key functions of public health programs that can help prevent opioid overdoses.

  1. Rural poverty remains regionally concentrated

Poverty is not evenly distributed throughout the United States. Americans living in poverty tend to be clustered in certain U.S. regions and counties. Nonmetro (rural) counties with a high incidence of poverty are mainly concentrated in the South, which had an average poverty rate of nearly 22 percent between 2011 and 2015. Rural counties with the most severe poverty are located in historically poor areas of the Southeast—including the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia—as well as on Native American lands, predominantly in the Southwest and North Central Midwest. The incidence of rural poverty is relatively low elsewhere, but generally more widespread than in the past due to a number of factors. For example, declining employment in the manufacturing sector since the 1980s contributed to the spread of poverty in the Midwest and the Northeast. Another factor is rapid growth in Hispanic populations over the 1990s and 2000s—particularly in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and Georgia. This group tends to be poorer than non-Hispanic whites. Finally, the 2007-09 recession resulted in more widespread rural poverty.

EVENTS/LEARNING

  1. BroadbandUSDA Toolkit

BroadbandUSA released Sustaining Broadband Networks: A Toolkit for Local and Tribal Governments to help local and tribal governments meet the current and future broadband needs of their communities. The Toolkit discusses five actions to support long-term broadband network sustainability.

  1. SBA HUBZone

The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain access to opportunity, encouraging economic development in historically underutilized areas, and promoting employment growth. SBA Webinar series on the HUBZone program can be found here. The webinars are designed to help small businesses get and maintain their HUBZone certification, survive HUBZone status protests to contracts, maintain good recordkeeping to ensure compliance in the program, locate HUBZones, and compete for HUBZone contracts.

  1. Federal Reserve Community Investment Explorer

The Federal Reserve has aggregated transaction-level data from Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), and Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which, collectively, invest several billion dollars into low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities each year.

  1. Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts by state

The recent tax law created a new vehicle, “Opportunity Zones” (Section 13823), to spur investment in companies and projects in distressed communities. As covered in detail during a recent SSTI members-only webinar, the tax incentive provides investors who reinvest capital gains into these zones with the ability to defer taxes on those gains and, if the Opportunity Zone investment is held at least 10 years, to waive taxes on any new capital gains. Zones must be declared this spring by each state’s governor, and only 25 percent of a state’s high poverty or low income census tracts may be included. 

  1.  Governors target diverse strategies to build rural broadband capacity, spur economic growth 

With more than 30 percent of rural America still lacking access to what the FCC considers adequate broadband, governors from across the country are working toward diverse strategies to build rural broadband capacity. By providing rural communities with access to full-speed, stable broadband, these governors hope that they can revitalize rural communities by helping small business formation and expansion as well as improve educational achievement/workforce training for rural citizens. Governors have announced new initiatives in Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wyoming, and in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is calling for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule changes to increase access to broadband internet across the country.  

  1. First Nations Q&A Webinar on Feb. 14 at 1:00 p.m. Mountain

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is accepting grant proposals for its Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) for projects that focus on youth and incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, mental health or other social issues in Native communities. First Nations expects to award approximately 20 grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 each for projects of no longer than one year in length. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Meanwhile, there will be a free Question & Answer (Q&A) webinar for interested applicants on February 14, 2018, at 1 p.m. MT. It will provide an opportunity for applicants to ask general questions about the Native Youth and Culture Fund, the grant application, selection criteria, guidelines or other topics. Participation in the webinar is NOT mandatory, but applicants are strongly encouraged to register and attend.

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