|Tom Boney Jr.|
Thursday, March 04, 2021
N.C. weekly editor Tom Boney, jailed after seeking access to court hearing, receives NNA's First Amendment Award
Pharmacy deserts leave many rural Americans with few options for vaccination; see interactive county-level map
|Retail pharmacy availability in non-metropolitan counties (Click the image to enlarge; click here for interactive version.)|
(Kaiser Health News map based on Rural Policy Research Institute data)
"As the Biden administration accelerates a plan to use pharmacies to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, significant areas of the country lack brick-and-mortar pharmacies capable of administering the protective shots," Markian Hawryluk reports for Kaiser Health News. "A recent analysis by the Rural Policy Research Institute found that 111 rural counties, mostly located between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, have no pharmacy that can give the vaccines. That could leave thousands of vulnerable Americans struggling to find vaccines, which in turn threatens to prolong the pandemic in many hard-hit rural regions."
Rural Chamber of Commerce aims to help rural economies; sets March 9 webinar on racial issues in rural America
The Rural Chamber of Commerce, a new organization of rural business leaders and entrepreneurs aimed at encouraging rural economies, is open for business.
"The goals of the Rural Chamber are manifold, but a primary purpose of the organization is to help develop rural economies by supporting rural entrepreneurship," Anya Slepyan reports for The Daily Yonder. "Members have access to services, including trainings from business coaches, mentoring sessions where members can discuss best practices and problem-solve collectively, networking opportunities, and an online sales platform." (Learn more about becoming a member here.)
Bipartisan bill in House aims to invest in rural areas, revive White House Rural Council that Trump disbanded
"The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation," Travis Loller, Jonathan Mattise and Gillian Flaccus report for The Associated Press.
"In some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complaining of 'picking winners and losers,' and urbanites traveling hours to rural GOP-leaning communities to score Covid-19 shots when there are none in their city," AP reports. However, it should be noted that many rural counties lack the health infrastructure to administer vaccines, forcing residents to drive long distances.
Wednesday, March 03, 2021
About 15 million K-12 students in the United States lack adequate internet access for participating in distance learning, Aallyah Wright reports for Stateline.
"The problem is especially acute in poor and rural communities, where the pandemic-driven switch to remote education has been particularly challenging. Nearly a year after Covid-19 upended schools, many rural educators still struggle to reach and engage with students," Wright reports. "Teachers say they worry about the mental health and well-being of the students they can’t see. And students miss deadlines and the chance to forge relationships with their peers, threatening both their academic achievement and social development. While these issues affect students in urban and suburban areas, they can be worse for rural schools, whose sizes often allow for close-knit student, teacher and community relationships."
Many state and rural education agencies have tried to help, using federal pandemic-relief aid for wi-fi hotspots or provide internet access and devices to families. But many rural districts are obliged to hand out paper packets when students don't have internet access. "This furthers educational inequities because paper packets do not afford students the opportunity for teacher-student interaction the way a traditional classroom setup does," Wright reports.
Even when rural schools do internet learning, they're less likely to help students access it. "A study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a nonpartisan research center, found that of 477 school systems across the country conducting remote learning, rural school districts were less likely to provide students with hotspots or devices than urban districts," Wright reports. "About 48% of urban school districts provided hotspots, 20 percentage points more than rural school systems. And 84% of urban school districts provided devices, almost double the number of rural ones."
Rural teachers shared with Wright the creative strategies they've adopted to help students with inadequate or no internet access participate in distance learning; students shared how the lack of access makes them feel frustrated and isolated. One rural education expert noted that schools are often one of the easier ways rural students can access mental-health services, but the pandemic means those kids could be falling through the cracks.
"Stephen Pruitt, president of the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works to improve public education, said it is essential to 'find out how many students became invisible' during the pandemic. Students who faced trauma, social isolation or just didn’t show up, he said, need support," Wright reports. "Pruitt said states should survey students and families to identify the barriers to internet access, from cost to megabyte usage."
"There’s got to be a really deliberate attention to a long-term plan for how you build and sustain infrastructure," Pruitt told Wright. "This is not just an education issue. This is something that states need to take on as an economic driver."
New owners of newspaper in tourist town on Alaska's Inside Passage struggle to survive and thrive during pandemic
|Melinda Munson and Gretchen Wehmhoff|
(Photo provided to Columbia Journalism Review)
Decline of coronavirus infections in rural areas slows greatly after six weeks of big decreases; see county-level data
|New coronavirus infection rates, Feb. 21-27|
Daily Yonder map; click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version.
The number of new coronavirus infections in rural counties fell by only 1 percent last week, Feb. 21-27, compared to an average decline of about 20% for the preceding six weeks and a 30% decline for each of the preceding two weeks, Tim Murphy and Tim Marema report for The Daily Yonder.
Meanwhile, "The number of Covid-related deaths in rural counties dropped by 15% last week to its lowest level since the second week of November. Changes in Covid-19 death rates generally lag changes in infection rates by several weeks, due to the time it takes infections to run their course," the Yonder reports. "The number of new infections in rural counties last week was 55,498, which is a drop of 801 cases from the previous week’s total. This was smallest decline in new infections since the infection rate began to decline seven weeks ago."
The number of rural and urban counties on the red-zone list rose slightly last week after seven straight weeks of decline. Red zones are those with 100 or more new coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents in one week. It's unclear whether extreme winter weather in the South over the past two weeks may have skewed data reporting. "But Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, which were affected by the storm two weeks ago, were three of the states with the largest increase in red-zone counties," Murphy and Marema report.
Click here for more data, charts and regional analysis from the Yonder, including an interactive map with county-level data.
Newsrooms sought for effort to learn what conservatives think about local news media; application deadline March 8
A news research project is looking for 25 local newsrooms to interview local conservatives about their attitudes toward local news media.
"We know there’s a partisan divide related to trust in news: people who lean right are much less likely to trust what journalists produce. You probably don’t need polling data to tell you that. A spin through comment sections and reporter inboxes can provide plenty of evidence," writes Joy Mayer, organizer of the Trusting News project. "As we first told you a couple of months ago, "The Trusting News team is committed to learning more about this problem and helping newsrooms navigate it, and we’re starting with a listening project. We are inviting journalists from local newsrooms to interview right-leaning individuals in their own communities about their perceptions of journalism."
The application deadline is March 8. Click here to learn more about the project, run in partnership with the Center for Media Engagement.
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
In pandemic, rural papers show how journalists are essential workers; build online audiences; consolidate to survive
If Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., is confirmed as interior secretary, she would be not only the first Native American in the role, but the first in any cabinet-level position. That matters because the Interior Department governs Native American affairs, writes Julian Brave NoiseCat for The Washington Post: "We have had many interior secretaries with close ties to powerful men in the C-suite and on Capitol Hill. But we have never had an interior secretary who tended to traditional gardens, cooked for pueblo feast days and stood with the Oceti Sakowin Nation at Standing Rock in defense of tribal treaty rights." NoiseCat is vice president of policy and strategy at Data for Progress and a fellow of the Type Media Center.
But Haaland, a registered member of the Laguna Pueblo, is facing a great deal of push-back from Senate Republicans because of her views on oil and gas mining and national parks. The contentious confirmation hearing for Haaland, now entering its second week, has become a battlefield on which Senate Democrats and Republicans fight a proxy war over fossil fuels policy, Oliver Milman and Nina Lakhani report for The Guardian.
Some of Haaland's biggest critics in the hearing are from states where fossil fuels are big business, NoiseCat writes, and notes that many have received large campaign contributions from the oil and gas industries. Though conservatives have portrayed her as an extremist in the hearing, "in 2019, she introduced the most bills with bipartisan support of all House freshmen," NoiseCat writes. "What Haaland actually brings — and what the Republican Party seems to consider so dangerous — are experiences and perspectives that have never found representation in the leadership of the executive branch. In fact, Republicans’ depiction of the first Native American ever nominated to the Cabinet as a 'radical' threat to a Western 'way of life' revealed something about the conservative id: a deep-seated fear that when the dispossessed finally attain a small measure of power, we will turn around and do to them what their governments and ancestors did to us."
NoiseCat cites examples where the Native American vote helped one party or another win recent elections, and writes that Republicans need Native American voters for future elections. But, he warns, if Republicans block Haaland, Native Americans will remember at the ballot box: "With moderate Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia publicly backing Haaland, her path to confirmation is clear. It would be unwise for the GOP to stand athwart Indian country’s chance at history."
Ultimately, Republicans' slow-walking of the nomination is unlikely to do them much good since the Interior "is already moving to lock in key parts of President Biden’s environmental agenda, particularly on oil and gas restrictions, laying the groundwork to fulfill some of the administration’s most consequential climate change promises," Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times.
Many Republican lawmakers are spreading false or misleading information about the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting journalists' critical role in keeping the story straight for the public.
"A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged from video and photo evidence, law enforcement officials, journalistic accounts and the testimonials of the rioters themselves: that a pro-Trump mob, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, stormed the seat of American government to keep Trump in power through violent means," Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr report for The Washington Post. "Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light. The effort comes as federal authorities begin prosecuting scores of alleged marauders, congressional committees seek to plug obvious security failures, and lawmakers consider establishing an outside commission to examine the matter."
Pandemic roundup: Black churches help fight vaccine hesitancy; fact-checking Biden on vaccine claims; more ...
"To expand broadband to more rural areas, a mix of different technologies and public/private partnerships are going to need to be used in the future. Major issues with accurate mapping of where broadband is and high costs associated with high speed internet are a few obstacles that must be overcome to expand high-speed in rural areas," Russ Quinn reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. "These were some of the topics discussed at the 'Connectivity in Rural America' session at the USDA's 97th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum last week. A panel discussion followed three virtual presentations discussing how important rural broadband is and ways to improve the technology."
Rural broadband mostly comes from buried fiber-optic cables, but not all rural areas have that, which creates two tiers of service in some areas. Mo Shakouri, director of Community Broadband Initiative for Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said advancing 5G wireless technology will help get broadband to remote areas, Quinn reports. Though fiber must be part of the solution, it's too expensive to connect spread-out rural homes to fiber, Shakouri said.
Read here for more perspectives and ideas from speakers at the forum.
Monday, March 01, 2021
The House passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and stimulus package this weekend but took out a few provisions aimed at helping farmers and the seafood industry first."Democratic committee leaders quietly stripped out language in the bill that would have authorized federal payments to farmers who lost crops to natural disasters including 'high winds or derechos,' like the powerful wind storm that flattened Midwestern cornfields last August," Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Weekly Agriculture. The winds in last summer's derecho were as strong as a Level 2 hurricane and did billions of dollars of damage to farms and homes.
Differences in vaccine eligibility requirements have prompted many people go to nearby towns, counties or states in hopes of getting the coronavirus vaccine. "The so-called vaccine tourism has prompted some states and public health departments to more strictly enforce residency requirements at local vaccination sites," Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty."With more than 50 unique vaccination plans across the United States, one’s access to the Covid-19 vaccine depends in large part on where one lives. In Wisconsin, mink farmers are being considered for the next phase of vaccine prioritization. In New Jersey, smokers can get priority access to the vaccine. In Colorado, journalists fall under the category of frontline workers," Kiran Misra reports for The Guardian. "Without standardized protocol, and because of the fractured American health system, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people have gotten vaccines outside their home states."
Though not all vaccine tourism is city dwellers traveling to rural areas, that's what's happening in Missouri as residents of St. Louis seek out vaccines in surrounding rural areas, Kayla Drake reports for St. Louis Public Radio. One St. Louis resident told Drake that, for every person she knows who has found a shot in the city, she knows five who have traveled elsewhere to get one. Some people pre-register for shots at several locations in hopes of scoring an appointment. Many criticized Missouri Gov. Mike Parson for poorly distributing the vaccine so that rural areas got too many and St. Louis not enough.
Vaccine distribution varies wildly across rural areas. Some rural areas don't enough vaccines to go around, prompting rural vaccine tourists to go to cities for a vaccine. But in Missouri, at least four recent rural mass vaccination events had doses left over when the events had concluded.
Illinois the first state to eliminate cash bail; issue disproportionately affects poor, helps overcrowd rural jails
"Illinois this week became the first state in the country to eliminate cash bail, a system that critics say leaves poor people—most often minorities—in jail for months awaiting trial," Kate Queram reports for Route Fifty. "Under the new law, judges will not be able to set any kind of bail for most defendants. Instead, they’ll use a risk assessment system to determine whether a defendant is a good candidate for release. Detention is a last option to be used only when “it is determined that the defendant poses a specific, real and present threat” to another person, or 'has a high likelihood of willful flight.' Judges will still be able to detain defendants charged with felonies, including murder and domestic battery."
The issue disproportionately affects the poor, who often can't make bail and must pay bond companies (typically 10 percent of the bail) to get out of jail, CNN reports. Those who can't bond out are stuck in jail, contributing to the overcrowding that's especially pronounced in rural and county jails. The numbers of people awaiting trial far outnumber people serving sentences.
Growing support for elimination of cash bail could make prison expansion—a popular rural economic tactic—less profitable, according to bail reform proponents.
Rural and poor counties less likely to have clean drinking water; Southern towns struggling after winter disaster
|Poor, rural and Latino-majority counties have some of the worst drinking water in the nation. Violation points assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency. (Map by The Guardian; click the image to enlarge it.)|
Millions of Americans have drinking water that doesn't meet federal health standards, especially in rural America and among the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, according to a six-month investigation of five years of data from the Environmental Protection Agency and other sources. "America’s worst public water systems – those that have accrued more than 15 'violation points' for breaking standards over five years – serve more than 25 million Americans, the research shows," Emily Holden, Caty Enders, Niko Kommenda and Vivian Ho report for The Guardian. "Rural counties have 28 percent more violation points than metropolitan ones" and "poorer counties have more than twice as many violation points as wealthy ones." Latino communities, many near farms with agricultural pollutants in the water, have some of the worst drinking water in the country.
|Water systems in poor, Latino, and rural areas struggle to meet federal drinking water standards. (Chart by The Guardian)|
Friday, February 26, 2021
Patchwork government oversight makes it difficult to investigate, assess the impact of CAFO pollution
Some local Republican politicians fire up base with social-media posts promoting conspiracies, supporting Capitol riots
"A faction of local, county and state Republican officials is pushing lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that echo those that helped inspire the violent U.S. Capitol siege, online messaging that is spreading quickly through GOP ranks fueled by algorithms that boost extreme content," The Associated Press reports. "The bitter, combative rhetoric is helping the officials grow their constituencies on social media and gain outsized influence in their communities, city councils, county boards and state assemblies. And it exposes the GOP’s internal struggle over whether the party can include traditional conservative politicians, conspiracy theorists and militias as it builds its base for 2022."
AP reviewed social media accounts for nearly 1,000 Republican officials at the local, state and federal level. Many posts, some deleted, have voiced support for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots or said the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and should be overturned. "Some Republican officials are posting theories related to QAnon, which the FBI has called a domestic terrorism threat. And the Department of Homeland Security has warned of the potential for lingering violence from extremists enraged by Biden’s election and emboldened by the Capitol attack," AP reports. "Although some Democrats also have used incendiary and aggressive language online, AP focused its research on the GOP because court documents show the overwhelming number of people arrested in association with the Capitol insurrection are longtime supporters of Trump, who has a huge Republican fan base after leaving office."
When AP asked Republican National Committee spokeperson Mandi Merritt about the incendiary rhetoric, she declined to answer specific questions and instead referred AP reporters to a Jan. 13 statement by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that said "Violence has no place in our politics, period."
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association called on the federal government to establish more rural-friendly rules for broadband grants. Read more here.
James Fallows, who crisscrossed the U.S. writing about rural America and its newspapers for The Atlantic, writes now about how we can apply the lessons from FDR's New Deal to rebuild the economy from the pandemic. Read more here.
President Biden reverses his predecessor's freeze on certain green cards and temporary work visas for farmworkers and other skilled workers. Read more here.
At the Agricultural Outlook Forum this week, USDA leadership committed to helping control the pandemic as well as tackling deep-seated farming issues. Read more here.
Scientists are forecasting a drought for much of the Western U.S. this spring. Read more here.
Twenty percent of Wisconsin wolves are to be killed after a court sided with hunters. Read more here.
Extreme winter weather has caused shipping nightmares for grain barges. Read more here.
The internet has played a critical role in farmer networking during the pandemic. Read more here.
An explainer shows the ins and outs of how the Federal Communications Commission's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund broadband auction works. Read more here.
Frozen pipes in Texas are the latest warning of what will happen to water systems across the U.S. if policies and aging infrastructure are not updated to account for the increase in extreme weather climate change brings. Read more here.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Pew report on how Americans got news about 2020 election and pandemic illustrates a deepening partisan divide
- About a quarter of Democrats and Republicans consistently got their news from "partisan news media bubbles" with audiences of like-minded people.
- Those who got their news only from such echo chambers were generally more ideological than others in their parties, and more likely to hear about and believe false or unproven claims.
- Just under half of Republicans who got their news from echo-chamber sources are 65 and older.
- Trump was a major source of election and/or pandemic news for 32% of Republicans and conservative independents. People who relied on Trump for information were more likely than other Republicans to think the pandemic was overblown, more likely to believe voter fraud was a significant threat to election integrity, and more likely to believe the news media had covered both issues poorly.
- In November 2019, the vast majority of Americans surveyed said they were "very" (48%) or "somewhat" (34%) worried about the impact of fake news on the election. Liberals and conservatives were equally concerned about this. A year later, 60% of respondents said they felt fake news had had a major impact on the election.
- Overall, older Americans, people who paid more attention to the news, and people with greater knowledge of politics were more worried than average about the impact of fake news.
- People who relied mostly on social media for political news were less likely to worry about the impact of fake news.
- What people deemed "fake news" varied widely; many identified factual news as fake because it didn't fit with their perceptions of reality.
- News diets within parties played a big role in commonly held partisan beliefs. That phenomenon was more pronounced among Republicans because they tended to rely on a smaller mix of news outlets (especially Fox News and talk radio).
- About 18% of people surveyed said in November 2019 that they relied mainly on social media for political news. Such respondents were the youngest group overall by far, with nearly half under age 30 (compared to 21% of respondents who get their news from news websites or apps, for example). People who relied primarily on social media for news were also less likely to be white.
- Social media was a major source of news for many Americans, but it was not widely trusted by Republicans or Democrats.
- Those who got their news mostly from social media were less likely to pay attention to other news sources such as print or cable TV, less likely than most others to be knowledgeable about current events, and more likely to have heard unproven claims and theories.
- Similar percentages of liberals and conservatives paid attention to pandemic news coverage in March 2020. In late November, liberals reported about the same numbers, but far fewer conservatives were paying attention to the news.
- Over 2020, Republicans perceptions shifted on pandemic-related issues. They generally paid less attention to news coverage, became more critical of the news media, and grew more likely to say the pandemic was being exaggerated. They also appeared to have less favorable views about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public-health officials. Democrats responses on those issues remained largely unchanged over 2020.
Toolkit aims to help rural communities plan, create and fund early childhood health promotion programs
It's almost that time of year again. Sunshine Week is coming up on March 14-20, so it's time to start planning your coverage. The observance, launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors (now the News Leaders Association) is a celebration of open government and freedom of the press.
Click here to learn more or access a content toolkit with a special reporting package free for republishing. The Sunshine Week site will provide other tools, including op-eds, editorial cartoons, logos and a list of open-government questions that journalists can ask federal candidates. The site also features freedom-of-information story ideas and work from past Sunshine Weeks, a list of participants and a calendar of events.Sunshine Week 2021 is made possible by an endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and by generous donations from the Gridiron Club and Foundation. For more information about Sunshine Week, visit sunshineweek.org. Follow Sunshine Week on Twitter and Facebook. You can find or create social-media posts by using the hashtag #SunshineWeek.
Pandemic roundup: Health-care workers delivering vaccines to seniors; clergy risk death to minister to the sick...
Health-care workers administering the coronavirus vaccine are some of the happiest people in medicine right now, overjoyed to be doing something concrete to fight the pandemic. Read more here.
Biden administration to send 25 million cloth masks to community health centers and food pantries in low-income areas beginning in March. Read more here.
Clergy risk illness and death to minister to the sick and their loved ones. Read more here.
Fact checkers debunk a claim by conservative radio host Buck Sexton, who says that scientific research indicates that life should go back to "normal" now and that schools should reopen and people should stop wearing masks outside. But that's false, say scientists. Read more here.
As vaccine supplies increase, some states and localities are now struggling to find enough people to administer the vaccines. Read more here.
As American health-care workers begged for more N95 masks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a waiver in the final moments of Trump's presidency to allow a Texas company to export 5 million masks overseas. Read more here.
Health-care workers are delivering vaccines to homebound seniors. Read more here.
In Minnesota, rural seniors are more likely than their urban counterparts to receive a vaccination. Read more here.
States rush to catch up on delayed vaccines and expand access after bad weather caused clinic closures and shipment backlogs. Read more here.
Bills that would bar employers from requiring employee vaccination have been proposed in at least 23 states. Read more here.
The Food and Drug Administration has deemed the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine safe and effective in a clinical trial and completely protective against hospitalizations and deaths. Read more here.
Opinion: in-person visitation for dying loved ones must be part of the national Covid-19 response. Read more here.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Chuck Abbott of FERN covers Vilsack's to-do list, climate-change farm subsidies, and minority farmer debt relief
Chuck Abbott of the Food & Environment Reporting Network has a trio of articles this week about agricultural issues. Here's a short summary of each:
Tom Vilsack, confirmed in a landslide Senate vote Tuesday for his second stint as agriculture secretary, is coming out of the gate with a "blockbuster" to-do list, Abbott writes in the first article.
Vilsack, who will be the Biden administration's chief link to rural America, "has a panoramic approach to farm prosperity and rural economic development as a cabinet secretary with initiatives that include biofuels and broadband access," Abbott writes. "He also argues that Democrats, for lasting political success, need to be more active in rural areas and find areas of agreement with rural voters, who are heavily Republican. The rural vote was instrumental in Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016."
Under Vilsack, he Agriculture Department aims to further President Biden's goal to make the U.S. the first country to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions from farming through initiatives such as paying farmers to conserve land and plant cover crops. Vilsack said in his Feb. 2 confirmation hearing that he believes farmers are "prepared" and "anxious" to adopt greener practices as long as they're voluntary, market-based, and incentive-based, Abbott reports.
Abbott's second piece explores farmers' views on eco-friendly farming practices, as reported by farm leaders at the USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum last week. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest agriculture group, said farmers expect to be paid for climate-change initiatives but not if they take money from traditional crop subsidies.Chuck Connor, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and a former USDA deputy secretary, agreed: "You cannot do climate on the backs of the American farmer . . . They just simply don’t have the resources for that." Abbott notes, "Farm country opposition was a prominent factor in the defeat a decade ago of a cap-and-trade program to combat climate change."
"The relief plan also allots $1 billion for land access, 'heirs property' issues and legal aid for socially disadvantaged farmers," Abbott reports.