While some meat producers try to hide behind the law or euphemisms, a new public relations campaign by the American Meat Institute attempts to show consumers exactly what happens in a commercial slaughterhouse.
The explosions at the Boston Marathon and West, Texas, occurred within days of each other and had similar catastrophic results. But the media and fundraising response to the two tragedies shows that Boston and West are worlds apart. It’s one measurement of the philanthropic gap between rural and urban America.
Today’s agriculture depends on chemically produced nitrogen to increase yields and feed the planet. That concentration of chemicals can have disastrous consequences, as we saw in West, Tex. But the dangers of those chemicals aren’t always what we are led to believe.
The percentage of U.S. population that lives outside metropolitan areas has been declining for generations, even though the raw number of nonmetro residents has continued to increase during that time. But from 2011 to 2012, the actual number of people living in nonmetro counties went down, for the first time since the federal government started keeping records.
Bureaucrat gone wild • Crucified on a cross of solar panels? • McConnell encourages Kentuckians to avoid tough questions about the future of coal • Sales-tax bill allows tribal groups to audit merchants.
Brian Peterson, Star Tribune“Mount Frac,” a 50,000 ton pile of frac sand in Winona, Minn., blocks from view most of the Winona County Law Enforcement Center. Frac sand is used in fracking, a drilling technique for extracting oil and natural gas. Minnesota environmentalists are trying to slow the spread of frac-sand mining. Their efforts have failed so far, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. Even a small bill that would block mining within a mile of any trout stream is being resisted in the state legislature by an industry that says additional regulations would kill jobs and economic growth.
Work on the Farm Bill continues, Jerry Hagstrom reports. It could come to the Senate floor as soon as next week, according to New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand.
Well, maybe not that soon. Markup of the bill will come next Tuesday. But Majority Leader Harry Reid only says he wants to take up the bill this month. And Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, says the bill won't appear on the Senate floor before June.
Hagstrom writes in DTN that proposed cuts in food stamps are a hang-up. Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow has proposed a 10-year $4.1 billion cut in the food program, but others are vowing to fight this measure.
Senators are also working on a dairy amendment, Hagstrom reports.
But She “Gets My Work Done.” Bureaucrat-gone-wild award goes to Jeanette Hanna at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A new report found that a 775 day posting of the Oklahoma BIA official to Washington , D.C., cost taxpayers $178,000. There was $30,000 for the SUV and $33,000 for the hotel room she rented even though she spent 283 days of the detail back home in Oklahoma.
Hanna was a trip. While BIA regional director in Oklahoma, she had 40 new security cameras installed, so that she could keep an eye on employees.
Her boss, Paul Tsosie (chief of staff to the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs) likes Hanna fine. “All I know is she gets my work done,” Tsosie said.
A “Direct Assault” on Rural Colorado. Democrats in the Colorado legislature are near to passing a bill that would require rural electric cooperatives to double the amount of electricity they produce from renewable sources, reports The Goat's Sarah Gilman.
Under the bill, rural co-ops (which serve 70 percent of the state's land and 25 percent of its residents) would have to have 20 percent of their power coming from renewables by 2020.
Unemployment in rural counties continued to fall in March. That's the good news from the most recent employment figures released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The bad news is that the number of people working in rural America has dropped by more than 55,000 in the last year. Six out of 10 counties lying outside urban America have fewer jobs this March than March a year ago. (Click on the map above to find the March unemployment rate and the change in jobs from a year ago for your county.)
The small recovery in jobs over the last year has been an entirely urban phenomenon.
In March of this year, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent in the nation's most sparsely populated communities. In February, the rural unemployment rate was 8.9 percent — and a year ago, in March 2012, the rate was 8.7 percent.
The Oakes family turned a hobby into a thriving
agricultural business. In a region where farms traditionally provide only a
small portion of a family’s income, they’ve created full-time jobs for
themselves and a dozen other workers.
When Ken Oakes left home to attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, he wasn’t expecting to return to his small hometown. The farm where he was raised near Corryton, Tenn., didn’t produce enough to provide his father, Stewart, with fulltime employment, let alone support another generation.
"I never expected to come back,” Ken said.
Today Ken and his dad run Oakes Daylilies, a thriving agricultural enterprise near Corryton that sells daylilies across North America and overseas. Besides employing Ken and Stewart, the business provides full-time work for a dozen other employees. It’s far more economically productive than traditional farming in east Tennessee, which is mostly dairy, beef cattle and, until recent years, tobacco.
The Oakes’ success with daylilies is a combination of factors: the business and marketing acumen that Ken picked up in college, broadband access that allows the family to market its product around the continent and globe, the support of the local community that shops at the farm and patronizes side projects like a corn maze, and hard work.
And of course, there’s those daylilies the Oakes began cultivating and hybridizing back in the 1960s.
Shawn Poynter/Daily YonderThe Oakes grow daylilies on 50 acres located about 10 miles northeast of the Knoxville, Tenn., city limits.“The problem with daylilies is you can find an excellent daylily, an excellent clone, [but] the only way to get more of it is to vegetatively propagate it,” Stewart said. “You have to grow it up, divide it, line it out. … It takes a long time to get more of one good plant.”
Over the years, the Oakes slowly built up their supply and variety of flowers. “We were well into this process when my son, Kenneth, graduated from the University of Tennessee,” Stewart said.
Raymond Thundersky roamed the streets of Cincinnati – a Native American in a clown costume who drew urban construction scenes, both real and imagined. Mary Annette Pember relates her own search to find the story behind this enigmatic “trickster” who connected worlds as he created his own.
Raymond Thundersky drew thousands of pictures of construction sites, often in their demolition phase. In this drawing, the wrecking ball is a pumpkin, and the building is being cleared for the imagined Chief Richard Brightfire Thunder-Sky Expressway.More images are available at the online archive of Thundersky's work.
Some people thought he was a great Mohawk chief, some thought he had royal blood, some thought he was Jesus and some just thought he was crazy.
Raymond Thundersky’s life was a mystery that provided fodder for the growth of a tantalizingly vague urban legend.
The real story of Raymond is like the trickster stories so common among Native peoples in which a character, often an animal, unceremoniously unseats man from his silly notions of Raymond Thundersky (1950-2004) in his clown costume and hardhat. comfort and superiority. Raymond’s gentle trickster spirit recently affected my life as I was drawn into putting together a show in the little gallery, Thunder-Sky Inc., that was created in his honor. My show, Digital Wigwam, takes gallery visitors on a journey into the little known U.S. history of Indian boarding schools through my family’s experience. The little gallery provides a sanctuary for the real stories of Native people living in cities as well as a haven for all the “outsider’ artists living as humans in an often inhuman urban world.
Prior to his death in 2004, Thundersky roamed the streets of Cincinnati wearing a clown costume and hard hat while carrying a toolbox. An enigmatic figure, he frequented construction sites, creating a colorful trickster-like presence among the cranes and cement trucks. He seldom spoke, preferring instead to draw – and draw and draw.
Obsessed with demolition as well as construction, his childlike drawings always envisioned the future. Taking his markers and paper from his toolbox, he would set up a temporary easel at construction sites. His works were titled with names such as “Future Mohawk Freeway” or “New Clown Costume Factory.”
After nearly 30 years of living and working in the very center of the black and beautiful farmland of central Illinois, I’m still a relative newcomer. Literally. This is the lovely Catherine’s native territory and often I am still identified as “Catherine’s husband” or “You remember John Watson; this is his son-in-law.”
No problem because, after nearly 40 years of marriage, I am, in fact, still Catherine’s husband and still John Watson’s son-in-law.
The productive, sweeping prairies of my adopted home, however, are nothing like the rolling, river-dominated land of my native southern Illinois. Up here the land is stunningly level and immensely fertile; down there, as we charitably note, the land has more (stage direction: clear throat) “character.”
Panoramio.comHilly farmland in southern Illinois stands in contrast to the flat prairie of the central part of the state. This spot is south of Eldorado.
The neighborhoods are different but the neighbors are pretty much the same. Most conversations in both places are dominated by the narrowness of today’s agriculture: corn versus soybeans, crop insurance versus government payments, land prices versus land rents, green machinery versus red machinery.
Rural legislators and same-sex marriage in Minnesota • Marketing guns to pre-schoolers • NRA starts annual conference • Federal education official defends president’s budget proposal.
The cast of MTV's rural-themed "reality" show "Buckwild." The show was canceled after the death of Shain Gandee, left, front, row.
MTV canceled the reality show “Buckwild” after the death of one of its young stars. But the network may not have had its fill of shows that target rural young people for cheap laughs and outlandish behavior.
Jason Linkins in the Huffington Post reports on an MTV memo saying the network is looking for a replacement to the program. The memo (which the network says isn't accurate) says they should look for a “Buckwild” replacement “set in the south with loud, unpolished young kids.” The original show focused on the antics of West Virginia young people.
Linkins says he hopes the network doesn’t go through with the show. But if it does, he’s got another suggestion:
I am nothing if not charitable, and since this strain of reality television seems to do nothing but latch onto someone else's original idea to make a cheapened version of it, might I suggest something like "The Real Locovore Hipsters Of Portlandia"?
Same-Sex Marriage in Minn. A rural lawmaker in Minnesota says he’ll support a bill for state-sanctioned same-sex marriage if such legislation comes up.
"To further deny equal rights to all people would be a black eye on this institution and certainly on my own career," said Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby.
Last fall, voters in the counties Radinovich represents voted 62 percent in favor of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The measure was defeated statewide, however, so the legislature is not proscribed from enacting a marriage-equality law.
Proponents and opponents of such legislation are courting rural representatives, who are seen as swing votes in the debate.
Pre-schoolers and Guns. The marketing practices of gun companies who sell weapons for children are coming under scrutiny after a 5-year-old Kentucky boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister with a rifle he’d received as a birthday gift.
The boy was playing with a .22 rifle called a Davey Cricket. The gun was pink and marketed as “My First Rifle.”
Will Democrats split over education as they did over gun control? • Some farmers make more money when their crops fail, report says • Woman prosecuted for taking slaughterhouse video from public road • Appalachian coal’s decline is not temporary, company says.
Counties eligible for Kansas' Rural Opportunity Zone program. The state is considering adding 23 more counties to the program.Four hundred fifty Kansans have taken advantage of the state’s Rural Opportunities Zones, which provide tax breaks or college-expense reimbursement for people who move to rural parts of the state.
The program began in 2011. More than 800 people have applied for the benefits. The program costs the state about $1 million a year, Harvest Public Media reports.
Program proponents say the incentives will improve the quality of rural communities and increase the labor pool. But state Sen. Marci Francisco says the program benefits people from outside the community while doing nothing to help those who have been there from the beginning.
Last month the Kansas Senate voted to add 23 new counties to the program. The state House has yet to vote on the measure. Kansas is the only state in the Union to have such a program, Harvest Public Media reports.
Rural-Urban Split on Education? An effort to reform federal education legislation is likely to highlight an urban-rural split among Democratic lawmakers, Alexander Bolton writes in the Hill.
Rural advocates want to change President Obama’s “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind” acts to make them fairer for small, rural school districts. But to change the funding formulas that underpin those laws, “Democrats from rural states will have to overcome opposition from lawmakers representing major cities and affluent suburbs,” Bolton writes.
The difference of opinion is likely to be reminiscent of the split that occurred among Democrats over gun-control legislation that failed in the Senate last month.
Rural advocates say rural schools don’t get as much support per pupil for disadvantaged students as urban and suburban schools do. The Rural School and Community Trust has launched the Formula Fairness Campaign. The Trust says that current funding formulas for disadvantaged students take support away from poor, rural districts and give it to richer, metropolitan schools.