Overgrown garden at a red cottage

Population growth has been in just a few counties: Americans and immigrants from abroad are flocking to the nation’s metropolitan areas in droves, pursuing new jobs and economic opportunity. But at the same time, rural America is losing population at an alarming rate, raising fears that economies slow to recover from the recession have dark futures ahead. Annual population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday show that since the recession, the vast majority of American population growth has been concentrated in a very small number of counties — ones that are home to booming metropolises. By contrast, two-thirds of the 2,155 counties with populations under 50,000 have seen populations decline since 2010. READ MORE


Avoid certain brands of dried coconut: The CDC is urging the public to avoid eating certain brands of dried coconut because they are linked to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that has been ongoing since September 2017. This outbreak is unrelated to the Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen shredded coconut announced in January. READ MORE

Pork sausage recalled: The USDA has announced a Class I recall of nearly 110,000 pounds of Johnsonville’s smoked pork sausage products because of contamination with extraneous materials. The company received three consumer complaints of pieces of hard, green plastic in the sausage. The 14-oz plastic packages contain six pieces of Jalapeno Cheddar Smoked Sausage and were produced on January 4 and shipped to locations nationwide. READ MORE


Dead cattle stacked 10 feet high: A Humboldt County, Calif., rancher was arrested Monday after a five-month investigation led authorities to hundreds of malnourished and dead livestock strewn across the suspect’s land. Officials said they discovered up to 300 deceased cows, some stacked in 10-foot-high piles or heaped in and near waterways, and many of the rancher’s still-living cattle were malnourished, held in cramped quarters and lacked ample access to feed. READ MORE

Battle for survival between sea lions, endangered salmon: In a frustrating dance between California sea lions and Oregon wildlife managers that’s become all too familiar in recent months, the state is trying to evict dozens of the federally protected animals from an inland river where they feast on salmon and steelhead, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The bizarre survival war has intensified recently as the sea lion population rebounds and fish populations decline in the Pacific Northwest. READ MORE


A plague of suicides: Fred Morgan was already deep in debt from rebuilding his milking barn after a fire when milk prices plunged in 2015, setting off an economic drought that is now entering its fourth year — the worst in recent memory for dairy farmers in New York State. Mr. Morgan, 50, saw no way to save the dairy farm in central New York State that he took over as a teenager from his ailing father. With the farm operating at a loss and facing foreclosure, Mr. Morgan believed his only solution was his $150,000 life insurance policy. He said he planned on killing himself so his family could receive the payout. READ MORE


Every bite brings a surprise: During apple season, Susan Brown can bite into hundreds of apples a day. She walks through her orchards, along rows containing hundreds of trees, biting and spitting, biting and spitting. As the head of the apple-breeding program at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, one of the largest apple-breeding programs in the world, Brown is searching for fruit that no one has ever seen or tasted before—beautiful apples that can withstand the dangers of the field, that grow uniform and large, that store well, that can be shipped easily to grocery stores, that have deep and satisfying flavors, and that are, above all, crisp and juicy. READ MORE

Exodus at Whole Foods: An executive exodus is under way at Whole Foods, as Amazon.com Inc. integrates the pioneering natural grocer into its retail empire. More than a dozen executives and senior managers have left since Amazon acquired Whole Foods last year, according to former employees and recruiters steering them to new jobs. People who have left include leaders of the bakery, produce, sustainability and local-foods divisions. READ MORE