Rural Missouri has faced some challenging disasters in the past: tornadoes, floods and droughts to name a few in only the past couple of years. And while, yes, the covid crisis has had a large impact on urban areas with more concentrated populations, rural communities are also feeling the reach of the virus on many day to day aspects of life.
And our small towns and farming communities were already vulnerable: the state’s $88 billion agricultural industry has already been under duress from trade wars with China and renegotiations of the NAFTA deal. Rural hospitals and clinics are already under-funded and vulnerable. And that’s not to mention how rural economies in general have already been struggling to stay afloat thanks to mechanization, the brain drain of young people leaving and lack of rural broadband.
Now, across the midwest, some meatpacking plants are closing and then reopening while their workers are at risk of contracting coronavirus; there is a backlog of pork processing keeping livestock on farms longer than usual; seed shortages are not uncommon right now; and prices at the grocery store are in flux. Add that to the challenges of teaching kids who are home from rural schools that already have limited internet access.
In this episode, we talk about how the pandemic is affecting our rural communities and the resources people need to stay afloat.
Our guest is Marshall Stewart, the vice chancellor for extension and engagement at the University of Missouri. He is also the UM System’s chief engagement officer and works with a network of county offices and specialists across the state to help build programs that help Missourians from all communities.
To hear the live show, tune in weekdays at noon. Also, you can leave us a voicemail at 877-532-0971 about how you are handling the isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.