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July 2010, Volume 16, Number 3

Rural Development

North Dakota has the lowest state unemployment rate among states, four percent. However, there is often insufficient housing for workers moving to work in North Dakota oil fields; some live in mobile homes or trailers. With the number of oil rigs tapping the Bakken Formation rising, rig workers with well-paid jobs are struggling to find housing (the Bakken Formation may have two to three billion barrels of recoverable oil). Some park their mobile homes in trailer parks that were abandoned after an oil boom in the 1980s ended.

Black farmers denied loans by local USDA committees between 1981 and 1997 won a settlement in Pigford v. Glickman. By 1999, the federal government paid $50,000 each to 16,000 Black farmers and denied the claims of another 7,000 farmers. Another 80,000 claims were rejected because the farmers filed them too late. However, in February 2010, the Obama administration agreed to pay another $1.15 billion to valid claims among the late 80,000, but Congress has been slow to provide the funds.

USDA's Rural Development agency aims to promote rural development with seven strategies ranging from promoting regional food systems and collaboration to supporting alternative energy development and expanding access to broadband (www.rurdev.usda.gov). The agency has several housing programs, including the Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Program, the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Direct Loan program, and the Section 538 Rural Rental Housing Guaranteed Loan program.

In a potentially far-reaching land-use decision, the US Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in June 2010 that beach restoration in Florida creates land that belongs to the public rather than private landowners. Florida's beach restoration program replenishes sand; some property owners complained that the public should not be allowed to access the widened beach because it could reduce their privacy.


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