A Native-American community foundation and small Native-American food company are teaming up on a project to get Indian ranchers involved in raising more buffalo. The market-based approach could help restore the land, the economy and the health of American Indian communities, they say.
The folks with the biggest appetite for genetically modified wheat aren’t the world’s hungry – they are voracious seed companies, says Richard Oswald. GMO wheat offers few advantages, unless you hold the patent and pocket the fees farmers must pay to grow it.
[error processing image tag]Fig-02.png]USDA’s spending on nutrition programs climbed to historically high levels in 2013 for the 13th consecutive year. But the rate of growth in the food stamp program declined to its lowest level since 2007, a new report from the Economic Research Service says.
What’s it like to live with fracking? David Headley says his Western Pennsylvania community was a beautiful place to live and raise a family before gas production began. Now it’s filled with noise “like a landing jet,” spring water that will burn and odd medical conditions for his 4-year-old son.
The lack of rain to fill California’s reservoirs means less hydro power. Customers will likely be paying more for electricity as utilities turn to more expensive power-generation sources. In other parts of the West, power bills have already climbed.
In the war against herbicide-resistant weeds, agricultural scientists are looking for new weapons. The worry, though, is what happens when the arms race crosses the border onto a neighbors sovereign land.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article comes from Dakotafire, a journalism project serving the James River watershed area of South Dakota and North Dakota. The project helps local media cover regional issues. Additional reporting comes from Doug Card with the Britton (South Dakota) Journal and Bill Krikac with the Clark County (South Dakota) Courier.
Photo by Becky FroehlichAaron Johnson and his cousin, Charlie Johnson, work together on Johnson Farms near Madison, South Dakota.
“Good fences make good neighbors,” the old saying goes. But what happens if a fenceline can’t stop one neighbor’s actions from harming another’s crop?
Some agriculture groups are saying new crops resistant to herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba could lead to just those sorts of problems.
In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a draft of an environmental impact statement (EIS) that gives the go-ahead to Dow Agri Science to product corn that is resistant to 2,4-D.
Advocates of the new technology say the new crops provide a vital weapon in the war against weed resistance to glyphosate, sold under the brand name RoundUp, which is becoming a stubborn and costly problem for farmers across the country.
Unfortunately, stubborn weeds aren’t the only thing that 2,4-D kills, and gardeners, vineyard owners and even farmers of commodities who don’t switch to the new technology could potentially be affected.
Hanging up the skates • Guinea-pigging for a telco • Medicare cuts for home health • The cost of rural recycling • Bad water for years • Earning less in rural Yorkshire
Photo by Kristina Barker/Rapid City JournalJoe Taggart, 74, has been renting skates to kids all across South Dakota for a decade. He's now unlacing his boots and trying to pass the business on.
After a decade of delivering roller-skating events to small towns in western South Dakota, Joe Taggart is ready to hang up his wheels. The 74-year-old is looking for someone to purchase his business, which consists of a wooden trailer filled with roller skates that he rents to children at events on the weekend.
“Taggart has never heard of another mobile roller-skating business, which he said is uniquely suited to the needs of rural South Dakota,” reports the Meade County Times-Tribune. "There’s a lot of these little ranch towns that need sports to do besides football and basketball," Taggart said.
The Federal Communications Commission will rule this spring on AT&T’s request to use Carbon Hill and a Florida city (West Delray Beach, Florida, which has a large senior-citizen population) as a testing grounds for the transition.
AT&T says it needs to accelerate the process of customers moving from traditional phone service to Internet-based service that sends telephone signals via broadband instead of old copper wires. The company will also encourage customers who can’t get broadband through its Uverse system to switch to wireless service.
The move to Internet-based and wireless telephony is well underway across the United States. But rural areas lag in the transition because there frequently are not alternatives to traditional copper-line service. The Washington Post’s Brian Fung reports on some of the complexities around the so-called Internet Protocol (IP) transition:
One reason behind the tests is that nobody really knows what to expect from such a large-scale transition. If a power outage hits, for example, will user-purchased batteries last long enough, or will most people skimp out and risk losing communications in a crisis? Will the quality of wireless service match what subscribers get now, or will AT&T run into the same problems that faced Verizon when it tried to unveil a wireless-only option on Fire Island in New York? Carbon Hill and West Delray Beach offer especially challenging environments because the former is a sparsely populated rural town and the other's residents are mainly seniors and retirees. A mistake in the test could cause vulnerable populations to lose service.
"Viewfinder" is an occasional series on photographers who focus on rural places and themes.
All photos by Tamara Reynolds"This is close to Clarksdale, Mississippi. They were prepping for planting, and there were people sitting in trucks and watching it burn. It was just black smoke billowing into the setting sun. Even though the burning thing is a healthy thing to do, you don’t see that anymore. It had a lot of symbolic meaning-- the vulnerability of the burning, burning away the old for rejuvenation and trying to save the land."
“I think everything is beautiful when seen correctly,” says Tamara Reynolds, a successful commercial photographer from Nashville, Tennessee. Reynolds, who applies her unique approach and vision to editorial and advertising assignments for high profile clients in Nashville, Atlanta and beyond also pursues fine art photography on her own. Her series “Southern Route,” explores images of the South, primarily in and around Nashville and the route she drives to Nantahala in North Carolina to see her boyfriend, who works as a river guide.
“I would go to see him and I noticed that immediately outside of Nashville and Chattanooga and Atlanta are areas that most people never see. So I started getting off the main highway, and stopping because I’d see these wonderful places that were going away.”
The photos in Southern Route are of the people and places Reynolds encounters, and her affection for them shows in her work, eschewing journalistic objectivity in favor of an authentic connection with her subjects.
Photo by Timothy CollinsConstant drifting and plowing means snow piles of 8 to 10 feet or more along stretches of U.S. 34, including this spot near Arlington, Illinois, in Bureau County.
Seems like I’ve spent most of my adult life in an area of the country where the person delivering the weather on TV stands in front of where I live. True in West Virginia. True in central Pennsylvania. True in western Illinois, even though we aren’t that far from Chicago or St. Louis.
So, as a public service to Yonder readers on the East Coast (yes, everyone in the rural Midwest knows you’ve had a lot of snow this year because the news media keeps reminding us of it), here’s an opportunity to see a couple of images of what it looked like out in the Midwestern hinterlands, where we got many of those storms first.
We’ve had snow on the ground since mid December. We’ve had “Pineapple Expresses” that brought moisture from the Central Pacific, “Alberta Clippers” that our neighbors to the north shared with us, and wildly complex convergences of slightly warmer and moister Gulf and Pacific air that mixed with bitterly cold Arctic air. This winter has been wild and often unpredictable.
To put it simply, it has been snowy, often mixed with strong winds that brought us blizzards. I’ve lost track of how many.
How cold was it? As for the Polar Vortex, lots of people have taken a spin or two on our icy roads. From this vantage point, it takes a solid brass mule to do a political spin on an established weather concept.
It was 22 below one morning a few weeks ago with a prediction for the night of 1 or 2 below. Eight below and 16 below were commonplace for a few weeks. At these temperatures, wind chill matters, but who really notices? Numb’s the word.
A brief thaw came with President’s Day, 57 degrees in Macomb and a yellow Mustang convertible going down the street with the top down, an act of clear defiance. Or was it anticipation?
USDA Economic Research ServiceThe chart shows the number of permits issued for field trials of genetically engineered crops.
CLARIFICATION: After we published this story, Joe Funk, the editor of Seed Today, got in touch with us. He said the number of field test permits a seed company receives doesn’t necessarily relate directly to the number of genetically engineered crops the company takes to market. The permits are for field tests only. Also, for a number of reasons, the permit numbers don’t necessarily reflect that one company has conducted more field tests than another. We appreciate the information Mr. Funk provided, and our article has been revised. More explanation is at the bottom of our story.
After 15 years of increasing use of genetically engineered crops, there’s no simple answer to the question of how the modified crops affect the economics of agriculture, a new report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service shows.
For one thing, there’s no clear evidence of whether genetically engineered crops increase farmers’ yields.
“Over the first 15 years of commercial use, GE seeds have not been shown to increase yield potentials,” the report says. “In fact, the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties…”
Whether GE seeds help farmers earn more from their crops doesn’t have a simple answer either. GE seeds can reduce yield losses due to pests. But whether that results in more profit for farmers depends on how much they spend on the seed, how much of the crop is saved from loss and how much the farmer has to spend on pesticides, the report says.
GE crops are linked to increased use of herbicides like Roundup but decreased use of insecticides.
Where winter is long and cold, rural volunteer firefighters go to frozen lakes to practice ice rescue techniques.
You might expect the sight of fire trucks lined up on the road to draw a crowd of curious neighbors. Maybe it does, and the people who live in houses lining the lake are inside where it's warm, watching with binoculars.
But these volunteers are used to having most of their training go unnoticed by the communities they serve. And they train anyway, even when they could spend that Saturday ice fishing or snowmobiling. Because you never know when your department will get the call for an SUV that missed a turn, a snowmobile that skipped into open water, or even a bulldozer that's gone through the ice.
Photo by Donna KallnerBefore heading out on the ice, a classroom session covers ice rescue practices and hazards like hypothermia.
On a recent Saturday, the thermometer sat at 10 below zero when my husband and I left home for joint training with one of our mutual aid partners, the Town of Langlade Fire Department. Bill is the assistant chief of the Wolf River Volunteer Fire Department. I'm a member of the Auxiliary, which assists our small department in search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. It was the first time our auxiliary had participated in ice rescue training, and the first ice rescue experience for some of our newer firefighters. Altogether, 20 people spent their Saturday in the classroom and on the ice.
Photo by Donna KallnerPeople and equipment are staged on shore for deployment into the training.
For the firefighters, the training was focused on learning to use specialized equipment like survival suits, buoyancy rescue slings, and an inflatable Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC), and learning to belay the ropes used to tether people and equipment. Our department bought the equipment in 2011, using a generous grant from a local foundation to fund the purchase.
For the auxiliary, this training was about learning to track human resources in a challenging environment. We do fast and furious record keeping, called “scribing,” for our incident commanders as they manage SAR operations. In the 24 years since our SAR team formed, we've scribed searches for lost hunters, lost rafters, lost horseback riders, lost mountain bikers, and one tornado.
Rural settings are popular for crime shows • Rural kids more likely to be obese • Goodbye "Got Milk" • Chicken farmers struggling • High fuel costs affect church • Scots try to woo rural voters in a debate
Matthew McConaughey, left, and Woody Harrelson star in HBO's True Detective, one of the new rural crime shows on TV.
There’s the New Mexico desert of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” the Kentucky mountains of FX’s “Justified” and the waterways of Louisiana in HBO’s “True Detective.” “Banshee” on Cinemax, “Longmire” on A&E and “Sons of Anarchy” all feature rural settings, as well.
Tonight, Sundance adds “The Red Road,” which features “a white cop and a Native American career criminal who live in a tiny mountain town in North Jersey.”
But the fictional rural-crime-show spree doesn’t correspond to real-life statistical changes, says University of Pennsylvania criminologist Emily Owens. "Violent crime rates are far higher in urban than suburban and rural areas,” she told the Inquirer. “And the differences have remained stable" over five decades.