Grange Continues To Grow, Continues To Address Rural Issues
Despite fraternal organizations nationwide struggling to gain and retain members, the National Grange says it is bucking that trend. During the organization’s 156th Annual Convention in Sparks, NV, last month, Betsy Huber, President of the Grange announced membership grew more than 3% between July 2021 and June 2022, despite pressures from the pandemic.
Huber noted as the Grange moves forward, they will continue to promote issues vital to rural America. One of those, she says, is rural broadband. Huber said they are delighted with the funding that lawmakers have already dedicated.
“Now we think our duty is to make sure that all that funding goes to the unserved first and the underserved, that it's not duplicating efforts for people that already have service, but it's actually closing the digital divide. Because we don't expect funding like this probably ever again, but this is our one chance to get it right.”
Other issues of great importance from D.C. include education, the 2023 Farm Bill and rural healthcare.
Speaking of healthcare, Huber says mental health is a real struggle in rural America, noting the lack of psychologists and psychiatrists in small communities. That often translates into a long drive for anyone seeking mental health resources. In an effort to address the problem, the Grange has partnered with Rural Minds, a non-profit organization, working to eliminate the stigma and educate people about mental health especially in rural areas and among farmers.
“They've done a survey showing that the suicide rate in rural areas is I think it was 68% higher than in urban areas, which is just shocking.”
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