Tuesday Roundup: Taking Hay

Youth unemployment touches 6.5 million • Everybody is eyeing savings from ag subsidies • Injection did cause quakes in Colorado and Oklahoma

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DTN’s Russ Quinn reports that farmers are having to take extraordinary steps to protect their hay. Russ Quinn reports:

With the price of hay rising because of high demand and diminished production due to fewer acres and the severe drought, hay theft reports across the country are on the rise. A Google search of the phrase “hay theft” brings up many articles of hay being stolen from Maine to California and other places.

Donald F. Kieffer, executive director of the National Hay Association based in St. Petersburg, Fla., said hay theft is a growing problem across the country. Unfortunately, it is a problem that is all too common with the members of Kieffer’s organization.

“I have had reports of hay theft from one coast to the other coast,” Kieffer told DTN. “A lot of the hay is stacked at the field-edge right near the road, and criminals are taking advantage of this.”

Good hay is now selling for up to $300 a ton. Not quite as good as copper, maybe, but still pretty good pickings.

NPR has a good rundown of recent hay thefts. Earlier this year, an Oklahoma farmer put GPS tracking devices in a bale. Two men were arrested when officers tracked the bale they had lifted. The bale sent a text message to the sheriff when it was stolen!! 

Youth Unemployment — The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports this morning that nearly 6.5 million teens and young adults are neither in school nor working, “veering toward chronic underemployment as adults and failing to gain the skills employers need in the 21st century.” 

The University and Rural Communities — The Omaha newspaper’s editorial page lists agriculture and rural development first as an issue to be taken up by the University of Nebraska’s board of regents. 

We like that priority. And so we quote:

There is a lot to be encouraged about on that topic. Under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources is showing real energy and pursuing an impressive array of opportunities. One new venture is the Rural Futures Institute, through which a host of Nebraska organizations will work together to help rural communities.

Farm Bill Meets Fiscal Cliff — DTN’s Jerry Hagstrom notes that farm subsidies appear to be everybody’s favorite example of where the federal government should cut wasteful spending. That would include cuts to insurance subsidies. 

“Just a couple of examples,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told CBS’s Face the Nation when asked about where the Obama administration would favor cuts. “Reforming farm subsidies — very important to do — lots of room to do sensible reforms in that context. And they can raise substantial amounts of money.”

No Harm Found From GE Crops — A special committee appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that farmers growing non-genetically-engineered crops aren’t suffering economic harm from contamination from genetically-engineered crops, DTN reports. 

Non GE farmers have contended that their crops have been contaminated by GE crops grown nearby. A year ago, the USDA appointed a group to consider this perceived problem. 

New Head of NRECA — Missouri Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced that she would resign from Congress in February to take on the job as CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. 

Rural Homeless — The National Coalition for the Homeless has released a survey that finds that people who are “homeless in rural areas tend to be white, married, and female. Increasingly, many homeless in rural areas are also migrant farmworkers.” 

Veterans make up a third of homeless males.

Not Just a Fracking Problem — A new study of oil and gas drilling finds that “a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn’t in progress.” 

Most studies of oil and gas drilling concentrate on hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to force oil and gas out of the ground. This study finds pollution at wells where fracking is not taking place.

Lisa Song at InsideClimate News writes about this new, peer-reviewed study, which finds that the source of the chemicals is likely a mixture of raw gas vented from the wells and “emissions from industrial equipment used during the gas production process.” 

Fracking and Quakes — Federal scientists say that the practice of injecting oil and gas drilling wastewater underground can set off earthquakes, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The study was done in Colorado, where there are some 330 fracking wastewater disposal wells, according to The Denver Post. The federal researchers found that a 5.3-magnitude quake near Trinidad last year and a 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma were set off by disposal of fracking wastewater underground.

“This is a societal risk you need to be considering,” said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Justin Rubinstein, co-author of a report to be presented this week at an American Geophysical Union gathering.

Keystone Hearing — There is a hearing today (this evening, really) in Albion, Nebraska, to review the revised route of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald reports

Ranchers and other landowners objected to the first route, which would have traversed the fragile Sand Hills region and the Ogalalla Aquifer. TransCanada, which is building the pipeline to carry tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, designed a new route, which will be the subject of the hearing.

A review of the new route by Bold Nebraska, the Nebraska Farmers Union and the Sierra Club found the new path was still “risky” for both the Sand Hills and the aquifer.

 

 

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