Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thursday Roundup: Grassley Goes After Packers

03/01/2012

Gary McKee We can tell you for a fact that there were pigs inside these blankets. We also enjoyed the poppy seed kolaches at the Sengelmann Hall In Schulenberg, Texas, Sunday.

Mitt Romney did slightly better in urban Arizona than in rural or exurban counties — but only slightly.

Romney won 49.1 percent of the urban vote in Tuesday's Arizona presidential primary and 45 percent of the rural vote.

Rick Santorum did slightly better in Arizona's rural counties. 

Santorum won 29.8 percent of the rural vote in Tuesday's Arizona primary. He won 26.2 percent of the urban vote.

The national press is convinced that there is a wide urban/rural gulf between the two leading Republican presidential contenders. In The Atlantic, Molly Ball reports that  "Romney won urban and suburban voters, Santorum those in rural areas."  

As you can see, the votes across rural and urban counties were fairly consistent in Arizona, as they were in Michigan

Certainly, there is not the kind of rural/urban split we saw in the Democratic primary in 2008, where Hillary Clinton regularly ran up 30 point advantages over Barack Obama in rural counties.

There is a difference this time, but the Republican results are remarkably consistent from place to place.

• Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican, is introducing a bill that would make it illegal for a packer to own or feed livestock intended for slaughter.

“The 2012 farm bill is a great opportunity to deal with vertical integration before it’s too late.  The ag concentration forums provided a real opportunity to make progress, but unfortunately the administration failed to follow through on any of the grass roots input and we’re still at square one.” Grassley said in a press release.  “Outlawing packer ownership of livestock would make sure the marketplace works for the farmer just as much as it does for the slaughterhouse.”

Grassley said that vertical integration, as in the poultry and swine business, "leaves the independent producer with even fewer choices of who to buy from and sell to.  And, it hurts the ability of farmers to get a fair price for their products.”

• Maybe it means something and maybe it doesn't. But Democrat Bob Kerrey is back in the Nebraska Senate race and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is retiring from her Maine seat. 

The conventional wisdom is that Ds are optimistic while the Republicans are depressed. We would point out, however, that it is only March 1.

• We are seeing more water news recently.

For example, The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that landowners must be compensated if government limits the amount of water that can be pumped from under their land.  

Now, the U.S. House has passed a bill that the Los Angeles Times says would rewrite two decades of water law in California should it pass the U.S. Senate.

The bill (which faces trouble in the Senate) would wipe out "environmental protections and dropping reforms of federal irrigation policy that have long irritated agribusiness in the Central Valley," the paper reports. 

And this morning we read that Texas rice farmers are two inches short of getting the water they need to make a crop this year. A Texas water authority will measure the depth of lakes up above Austin today. If the lakes are high enough, rice farmers will get their water. 

Unfortunately, however, the lakes are two inches below the drop-dead mark — and it doesn't look like rain in Central Texas. Water from the lakes supports a third of the state's rice crop.

• Democrats think they might be able to take back the House, according to an L.A. Times report. But reporter David Lauter writes that Democrats will continue to lose in rural districts: 

No matter the outcome (of the overall contest for the House), the nature of the party's caucus will change. The ranks of conservative, southern and rural Democrats will continue to dwindle as the result of retirements, redistricting and defeats. At the same time, Democrats have been gaining ground among college-educated, suburban voters – once a Republican stronghold – and are likely to continue to do so.