Other Goings On

Continuing the proliferation of third party certification in the natural meat market, Whole Foods plans to launch their own line of “Animal Compassionate” labeled meat. As long as the standards remain meaningful (a serious concern), niche labels provide a way for small producers to break back into the corporate dominated livestock market.

Rural homelessness is on the rise, and new funding sources targeted at ending chronic homelessness flow straight to the big cities.

Rural homelessness has always taken a back seat to the more glaring problems in cities. Most studies estimate homeless people in small towns account for about 9 percent of the 600,000 or so homeless nationwide. But local officials and advocates for the homeless in small towns say that economic distress in recent years, including closing plants, failing farms, rising housing costs and other troubles, has left more people without homes and in greater need of help.

Real numbers are hard to come by because most rural areas, where homeless services often means ad-hoc help from church groups or volunteers, are far behind a parade of cities taking head counts.

Remember Ord, Nebraska? Read this post How Big is Your Town’s Endowment? and then this update from the NYT Philanthropy From the Heart of America. More rural towns and rural school districts should take up the conversation of building endowments to secure their future.

Election: Rural Roundup

Democrats are rising in the rural Midwest and West as rural populists.

In the Montana Senate race Democrat and farmer Jon Tester is battling hard against an incumbent Republican. Read Tester’s recently released ag policy paper. The race was recently profiled by the Weekly Standard.

In Nebraska, Scott Kleeb continues to rise in polls for an open congressional seat in a district that hasn’t had Democratic representation in a very long time. Dubbed the Cowboy Candidate, Kleeb is a forth generation rancher with a PhD from Yale. He recently landed a surprise endorsment from the Omaha World Herald. Kleeb’s internal numbers show him up in this supposed-to-be-safe-Republican district. And the GOP is freaking out over it.

Elsewhere, the Democrat holds a narrow lead in Idaho’s Gubernatorial race. There is also a chance for a congressional pickup by Democrats in Idaho. Vice President Cheney has been dispatched to the state to campaign for Republicans. The lone congressional seat in Wyoming is also in play.

And these aren’t the only races where populist democrats are making strong showings in traditionally Republican, often rural territory. What’s going on? I have plenty of my own thoughts, but precious little time to write these days. Here is some analysis from others:

A Rural Revolt in the West?
GOP Losing Their Rural Base
Poll Shows Rural Voters Shifting to Democrats.

Win or lose on election night, the political landscape in the rural U.S. is changing.

Wal Mart Done Destroying Rural Communities:

Will move to urban communities next.

Concerned by “dwindling returns,” Wal Mart will scale back new store openings in the coming year while it figures out how to adapt its rural-community-destroying-model to effectively destroy the economic vitality of major urban areas as well.


Richard Hastings, retail analyst with Bernard Sands, said the slowdown comes as 44-year-old Wal-Mart faces a maturing home market and sets its sights on major urban areas, where both costs and community opposition are higher.

“They’ve run out of the kinds of rural and suburban inexpensive lease locations that they enjoyed for so many years,” Hastings said.

Wal Mart stock rose 2 percent on the news.