Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Impacts of Rural Economy on Farmer Mental Health

 In a poll sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation, nearly half of farmers and farmworkers surveyed said they are experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago.  Financial issues were the most common stressor cited; other factors included the weather, the economy, isolation and stigma.  Most of the rural Americans polled said that cost and stigma would make it harder for them to seek help or treatment. Research has shown that eighty-five percent of federally designated mental health professional shortage areas are in rural locations.

CDC: Pregnancy-Related Deaths Happen Before, During, and Up to a Year After Delivery

In a new release during the week of May 6, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications each year in the U.S. and that 60 percent of these deaths could be prevented.  According to the Vital Signs report, Black women and American Indian/Alaska Native women were about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as White women.  In 2018, several studies reported that this national trend is exacerbated by rural hospital closures.  The Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health recently updated an online portal for data, resources and learning events on maternal morbidity and mortality.

New One-Stop Resource for FORHP’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP)

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) created this new web page with information on upcoming RCORP funding opportunities, current grant recipients, and the program’s impact to date.  RCORP currently includes grants for planning, implementation, and medication-assisted treatment expansion for rural communities and consortia, as well as cooperative agreements for technical assistance, evaluation, and three Rural Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders.  As a reminder, RCORP-MAT Expansion and RCORP-Rural Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders are currently accepting applications through June 10.

Report Released on Preventive Health Service Use Among Rural Women

This study from the Maine Rural Health Research Center examined receipt of preventive health services (cholesterol check, fasting blood sugar test, mammogram, pap smear, and vaccination for the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV) by rural and urban women over the age of 18. Findings indicate that rural women were less likely than their urban peers to receive preventive health services.  The report can be accessed at

Reports Released on Trends and Geographic Variation of Hospitals at Risk of Financial Distress

This week, the Rural Health Research Gateway released three policy briefs with the most up-to-date data on factors contributing to rural hospital closures.  The producer of these briefs, the North Carolina Rural Health Research Center, keeps track of rural hospital closures and counts 104 since January 2010.  The reports can be accessed at

USDA Economic Research Service Releases Atlas of Rural and Small Town America

The rural atlas, maintained and updated each year by the Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, features an interactive map with county-level data.  The report provides statistics on three broad categories of socioeconomic factors:  demographics, including migration and immigration, education, and characteristics of veteran population;  jobs, with employment trends, industrial composition, and household income; and county classifications that include the rural-urban continuum, economic dependence, persistent poverty, and other characteristics. 

HHS Secretary Azar Releases Statement on Measles Outbreaks

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Alex Azar issued a statement this week about the outbreak of measles, now diagnosed in more than 700 cases across the country.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed outbreaks in 22 states. Symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected and typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and a rash of flat, red spots.  Available data do not indicate that rural areas are more or less affected, but the CDC’s national surveys that monitor vaccination coverage have identified that unvaccinated children are more likely to be uninsured, live below the poverty level, and live in rural areas. Many may not know about the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program that serves children up to age 18 who are uninsured or underinsured, or who receive care through Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Clinics.  Adults who are unsure of their measles vaccination status should consider getting the updated Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Pennsylvania Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Program Practitioner Application Announced

May 1, 2019

Applications are invited to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Pennsylvania Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Practitioner Program, in accordance with RFA # 67-86.

All questions regarding this RFA must be directed in writing by e-mail to, no later than May 12, 2019.  All questions must include the specific section of the RFA about which the potential applicant is questioning.  Answers to all questions will be posted at on or before May 17, 2019.

Please submit an application via the on-line Pennsylvania Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Program Practitioner Application found at the following website:­Planning/Pages/SUD-LRP.aspx, beginning Wednesday, May 1, 2019.  Completed applications must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 2019.


It is expected that the evaluation of applications and the selection of grantees will be completed within six weeks of the submission due date.

USDA Releases Report on Rural Broadband and Benefits of Next Generation Precision Agriculture

Reliable, High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity is Essential to Enhanced Agricultural Production

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today unveiled a groundbreaking report, A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies (PDF, 2.5 MB). The report finds that deployment of both broadband e-Connectivity and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technology on farms and ranches throughout the U.S. could result in at least $47 billion in national economic benefits every year.

“Broadband and Next Generation Precision Agriculture are critical components for creating vital access to world-class resources, tools and opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers,” Secretary Perdue said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to doing our part to clear the way for nationwide broadband connectivity that will allow the next generation of precision agriculture technologies to thrive and expand.”

Download A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies (PDF, 2.5 MB). To see how Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies can work on farm and ranching operations, view the Connected Technologies infographic (PDF, 910 KB).

The report also finds that if broadband infrastructure and digital technologies at scale were available at a level that meets estimated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18 percent of total agriculture production. Of that 18 percent, more than one-third is dependent on broadband e-Connectivity, equivalent to at least $18 billion in annual economic benefits that only high-speed, reliable internet can provide.

For many years, USDA and the American agriculture industry have been actively researching the feasibility, usage and potential upside of Next Generation Precision Agriculture technologies. Until now though, the interdependency of these technologies and broadband e-Connectivity has not been evaluated. The report released today explores this symbiotic relationship and quantifies the potential economic benefit of broadband buildout and the complementary adoption of connected agriculture technologies. Going forward, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be engaged in multiple facets of infrastructure and technology deployment, including financing rural capital investments and supporting producers who are exploring which Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies are best suited to improve their operations and serve their customers.

In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. The Report identified Achieving e-Connectivity in Rural America as a cornerstone recommendation. The Administration has been executing this priority call to action through the American Broadband Initiative (ABI) (PDF, 647 KB), which reflects rural broadband build-out as one of President Trump’s directives to the Federal government. A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies (PDF, 2.5 MB) opens the next chapter in the USDA’s response to this call to action.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

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