“Barack Obama recognized something in 2008 that few Democratic presidential hopefuls before him had: Rural voters matter.” So begins a story today in Politico by Phillip Hayes.
Hayes’s point is that in 2012 Democrats don’t need to win an outright majority of rural voters. “He doesn’t need to,” Hayes continues. “He only needs to keep Republican support low enough that the traditionally left-leaning urban vote can put him over the top.”
For instance, if John Kerry had won 45% of the rural vote in 2004, he would have been elected.
Hayes contends Obama did this in 2008 by copying the tactics of George W. Bush. “Like Bush, Obama built a team of agricultural advisers from the farming community to monitor the heartland’s pulse,” Hayes wrote. “Unlike past Democratic candidates, he largely avoided PR pitfalls.” For example, unlike Michael Dukakis in 1988, he did not tell farmers to grow endive instead of corn.
• Jerry Hagstrom at Ag Week has a good rundown of what was said at the White House Rural Forum last week.
• The Souix Falls Argus Leader has a good story on the effect of school budget cuts.
We begin with sports, where coaches have been cut and games have been cancelled. At least 11 school districts have cut or stopped paying for varsity sports.
The Argus Leader surveyed all the school districts in the state.
Outside of sports, one South Dakota school district is cutting back to four day weeks. The Irene-Wakonda School District’s 300 students is cutting a day of class. In fact, one-fourth of South Dakota’s districts are abbreviated their schedules.
• The New York Times reports that some places are seeing a glut of farmers’ markets.
The number of markets has increased to over 7,000 as of this month. In 2005, there were just over 4,000 markets. In some areas, however, there aren’t enough customers, or farmers, to make the markets viable, and they are closing, the newspaper reports. About half the markets that started in Oregon from 1998 to 2005 failed.
• Forget military drones. An Iowa company is working on drone tractors.
Kinze Manufacturing is working on farm equipment that runs without a human at the wheel.
• Farmers increased their corn planting by ten percent from 2000 to 2009, nearly matching the increased amount of corn used for ethanol, according to the USDA.
Other use of corn remained about the same, as farmers shifted their land use to meet the demands for ethanol production.
• Six Missouri River basin governors have agreed that flood control should be the primary goal in managing the river, DTN reports.
Flooding in the river basin has been severe this year. (See the picture above.) Downstream states believe that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has had conflicting orders in managing the river, including the promotion of recreation and wildlife, that made this year’s flood worse. Governors wants the Corps to manage the river for flood control first.
Governors from Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Missouri, South Dakota and Iowa have signed a letter to the Corps in favor of putting flood control as the primary objective. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana did not sign the letter.
• Diette Courrege reports in Education Week about how West Virginia is trying to take advantage of long school bus rides.
The “Books on the Bus” program is getting kids iPods filled with eBooks they can read on the long mountain drives to school.