Patrick Cavan Brown / Al Jazeera America

In the face of growing income inequality on the rural Great Plains, the Center for Rural Affairs has published four ways to address the problem.

First, rural people should be given more opportunities to obtain higher education. Research shows that people with college degrees earn almost 80 percent more per year than degreeless residents.

Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY

USA TODAY reports that, not only are more Americans becoming eligible for Medicare, they are increasingly sicker than their predecessors. Diagnoses of kidney disease, depression and high cholesterol have seen double-digit increases since 2008. In addition, over half of all Medicare beneficiaries have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Two-thirds of today’s Medicare beneficiaries have multiple chronic conditions, and 15% have at least six long-term ailments.

Kansas lawmakers this week heard from industry experts about changing the state’s retirement plan from a traditional pension to a 401(k)-style retirement system. Under the proposed “defined contribution” system, employees are responsible for investing their retirement savings. That change would reduce the state's investment risk. Republican Representative Ron Ryckman says lawmakers need to consider all their options.

"We owe it to our employees and our taxpayers to look under every rock, look at every solution. And that’s what today’s about,” says Ryckman.

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.