Project of the U.S. government in the 1930s. As part of the New Deal, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was established (1935) to bring electric power to farms, thereby raising the standard of rural living and slowing the migration of farm workers to cities. Providing low-interest loans to construct power plants and power lines to rural areas, the project eventually equipped over 98percnt of U.S. farms with electricity.
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Rural areas can be large and isolated (also referred to as "the country," and/or "the countryside) over the course of time. According to William Howarth, author of “The Value of Rural Life in American Culture,” rural communities were dominant in the beginning of the twentieth century, with the majority of the population living on independent homesteads. However, the rise of mechanized farming caused the population to shift, and in 1920 the census reported that urban populations exceeded 50 percent. Today 75 percent of the United States' inhabitants live in cities and suburbs, but they only occupy 2 percent of its land mass. Rural areas occupy the remaining 98 percent.
About 90 percent of the rural population now earn salaried incomes, often in urban areas. The 10 percent who still produce resources are generate 20 percent of the world’s coal, copper, and oil; 10 percent of its wheat, 20 percent of its meat, and 50 percent of its corn. The efficiency these farms is due in large part to the commercialization of the farming industry, and not single family operations.
The US Census Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Economic Research Service, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have come together to help define rural areas. The Bureau of the Census defines an urbanized area by population density. An urbanized area consists of a central city and surrounding areas whose population is greater than 50,000. In addition, other towns outside of an urbanized area whose population exceeds 2,500 are included in the urban population, leaving all other areas rural. On the contrary, the United States Department of Agriculture classifies specific counties as metropolitan or nonmetropolitan based on codes or rules rather than population calculations. According to the USDA, a metropolitan county is one that contains an urbanized area, or one that has a twenty-five percent commuter rate to an urbanized area regardless of population. Finally, the OMB claims that a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) must contain either a city with at least 50,000 inhabitants, or an urbanized area (defined by the Bureau of the Census) with at least 50,000 inhabitants and a total MSA population of at least 100,000.
With the increased urbanisation of the British population, many rural schools no longer have sufficient numbers to make them viable. The solutions are to either close the school, or incorporate the school with another small school nearby. For example, in Gloucestershire it is common for one primary school to have the infant 4-6 year-olds in one village and the junior 7-11 year-olds in a neighbouring village some distance away (typically the bus that collects the juniors from one village, will collect the infants on the return journey).
An NHS patient is defined as rural if they live more than 5km (3 miles) from either a doctor or a dispensing chemist. This is important for defining whether the patient is expected to collect their own medicines. While doctors' surgeries in towns will not have a dispensing chemist, instead expecting patients to use a high-street chemist to purchase their prescription medicines, in rural village surgeries, an NHS dispensary will be built into the same building (and indeed most rural patients will have never seen a paper prescription, since the prescriptions are usually sent via computer network direct to a label printer in the dispensary).
In Australia rural health has been influenced issues around getting medical staff to stay in remote outback areas. The state of Queensland has used a unique model of nursing care in rural and remote "outback " hospitals. A RIPRN is a Registered Nurse that often works where there are limited medical coverage. They offer a greater diversity of skills and knowledge that other rural RNs. In many cases functioning between the traditional level of RN and Medical Doctor.