Research / Rural Development


Policy Analysis | May 2018

Agriculture Sector's Contribution to State GDP, 2016-2017

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017. Economic growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Despite this growth, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector decreased 9.4 percent nationally – the culmination of five consecutive quarterly declines. While still struggling, states in the Southern region fared better than their Midwestern neighbors, which experienced the sharpest declines. Although the agriculture sector declined in each of the Southern states, only Louisiana experienced an overall decline in real GDP. As Congress continues to draft the 2018 Farm Bill, states reliant on farm economies will be paying close attention to any changes that may revive this important sector.

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SLC Special Series Report | May 2017

Blown Away: Wind Energy in Southern States (Part 1)

Anne Roberts Brody

The nation's energy sector is undergoing substantial changes, as political and economic factors converge to encourage diversification in generation. Aided by state and federal tax credits, renewable energy generation technologies are experiencing unprecedented growth as production costs decline and implementation increases.

As the renewable energy sector continues to grow, concerns that such expansions could lead to widespread job losses in traditional energy sectors, such as coal, have proliferated. Southern states are rich in traditional energy resources; thus, many state economies have long depended on these resources. Because of the importance of these industries to the region, both in terms of economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation.

This SLC Special Series Report, the first in a series exploring the myriad impacts of wind energy expansion on SLC states, examines the benefits of wind energy in the Southern region. Forthcoming reports present case studies from three SLC states, examine SLC states' capacity for wind energy generation and utilization, analyze state incentives, and explore the challenges of wind energy generation in the region.


SLC Regional Resource | April 2016

The Role of State and Local Government in Broadband Deployment

On January 29, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined "broadband internet." Under the new definition, broadband internet connection must meet benchmark speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Such speeds allow multiple users (or devices) within a household to browse the web and stream video simultaneously, or allow a single user to stream high definition video. The Commission's redefinition of broadband—more than six times its previous download speed benchmark of 4 Mbps—reflects the growing ubiquity of the Internet and aims to ensure the infrastructure has the capacity to meet new, data-intensive usage and its derived benefits.

This SLC Regional Resource examines the role of states in broadband deployment and its relationship to municipal and federal initiatives, with particular attention to the needs of rural areas, and the successes of Southern cities and towns. Notably, this SLC Regional Resource focuses on government-owned broadband infrastructure and direct service provision, though other policies and incentives are discussed broadly. It does not address private alternative internet service providers.
2018-2019 Chair

Senator
Daniel B. Verdin III

South Carolina

2018-2019 Vice Chair

Senator
Casey Murdock

Oklahoma

Immediate Past Chair

(Former) Representative
Tom McKee

Kentucky

Anne Roberts Brody
Committee Liaison

Anne
Roberts Brody

Policy Analyst


The oldest of the standing committees, the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee’s agenda focuses on issues critical to the future of farming and farm communities. As the "engine of the economy," agriculture constitutes a vital sector of the economies of most Southern states. A principal focus of the Committee's work centers on rural development and rural communities, convening a series of sessions that investigates the differences (and surprising similarities) between rural and urban America and how to begin to bridge the divides between these communities.

Recent Committee initiatives include rural housing, ag education, updates on international trade and agriculture, consolidation in the farm sector, state actions on animal welfare, and conservation and farm land preservation. Other issues in which the Committee has long-standing interest include the status of the rural South, and food safety and security. The Committee has focused on the changing face of agriculture across America and conditions in the rural South. Additionally, the Committee works annually with public and private agencies, local and federal officials, and the land grant university system to assure the continued vitality of the region’s farm and rural communities.

More SLC Research into Rural Development