Thursday Roundup: Rural Preservation

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its annual list of the ten most endangered places, and several were in rural or exurban communities. 

Slaves built the Gothic Revival mansion Belmead-on-the-James in Powhatan County, Virginia. It later became a school. The slideshow above shows Belmead from beginning to end.

Also on the list are Bear Butte, in Meade County, South Dakota; the Chaco Canyon area of New Mexico; and the Isaac Manchester farm in Avella, Pennsylvania.

• The Washington Post reports that “Republicans have quietly maneuvered to prevent a House spending bill from chipping away at federal farm subsidies, instead forging ahead with much larger cuts to domestic and international food aid.” 

While the Republican plan preserves most ag subsidies, the plan would cut 10% ($685 million) for food aid to low-income mothers and children. 

An earlier House Appropriations Committee bill cut farm subsidies, but that language was dropped in the latest maneuver. 

Senate Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, says she will not support the larger cuts made by the House Appropriations Committee. 

• Higher food prices are helping somebody. Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pork producer, reported its first profitable year since 2008. 

Flooding in Iowa and Missouri could last for up to two months, as releases from upstream dams will continue through the summer. Also, I-29 is closed around the Missouri/Iowa border. 

• Sen. Joe Lieberman is reintroducing legislation that would tighten security at biological research laboratories. There has been concern among ranchers that a proliferation of research on pathogens that could infect livestock creates a threat of an outbreak in the U.S.

• Republican Frank Lucas, a House member from Oklahoma, writes in The Hill about the creation of a White House Rural Council to “strengthen rural communities”:

But, haven’t we heard this before? Back when then Senator Obama was running for President, he pledged to have a rural summit in Iowa and to take action on a rural agenda in the first 100 days of office.

To date, there has been no rural summit.  No rural agenda.

Then in the summer of 2009, President Obama directed members of his cabinet to conduct a listening tour of rural America. Only a few months ago, the EPA Administrator and USDA Secretary held their own listening tour across American farms.

So, how have those listening tours produced jobs and economic growth in rural communities?

• The fire in Arizona is now the largest in the state’s history. 

• The Washington Post catches up with Shirley Sherrod, the African-American woman fired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a conservative blogger released a severely edited tape making it appear she had discriminated against white farmers. Ms. Sherrod and her family have an inspiring history. 

 

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