Wednesday Roundup: Do You Need Levees, Too?

Why build levees in rural Louisiana? • What we don't know about farm anti-biotics • Democrats on education • Obama and wolves

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Should levees be built to protect rural areas?

The patchwork of floodwalls built outside the cities were no match for Hurricane Isaac. And that has raised a question, according to the AP: “Is it worth billions of dollars to build better levees in areas that are sparsely populated and naturally flood-prone?” 

The AP reports that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has “backed away” from plans to extend protection to rural South Louisiana. Now, Isaac has flooded many of the one million people who live outside the New Orleans levee system.

“Each time you have a hurricane, you are going to spend enormous amounts of money on search and rescue, rebuilding churches, schools, everything, just like right here in Ironton,” said Charles J. Ballay, district attorney of Plaquemines Parish, as he rode atop an airboat looking for stranded residents. “This was a Category 1 storm and look at what it has done.”

Superbugs? Who Knows? — The New York Times reports that even though germs resistant to many types of antibiotics have increased ten fold in chicken breasts, scientists who are studying this trend are “stymied by a lack of the most basic element of research: solid data.” 

Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the country go to farm animals, but there is no requirement for farmers to report how they are using the drugs. So it’s impossible to calculate the relationship between routine use of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant infections in people.

“It’s like facing off against a major public health crisis with one hand tied behind our backs,” said Keeve Nachman, an environmental health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which does research on food systems.

Democrats on EducationValerie Strauss at the Washington Post has pulled out all references to education from the Democratic Party platform.

No real mention of rural, or of the problems with Title One grants, which discriminate against small schools.

Kids, Farms and Safety — There was a big deal last year when there were proposals made to regulate the work kids could do on the farm. Those regulations were withdrawn, but a problem still remains: teens are four times more likely to die on a farm than in any other workplace. 

Scientists in the Midwest are studying how children of different ages do the work of driving a tractor. They are attempting to see when people have developed the cognitive skills needed to perform a variety of farm chores.

“Our goal is to try to develop knowledge that makes it easier to prevent these accidents,” said Tim Brown, a University of Iowa researcher who helps run the National Advanced Driving Simulator in Coralville.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Endorses a D — The Minnesota Farm Bureau has endorsed Sen. Amy Klobuchar for reelection. The state Farm Bureau rarely endorses Democrats but says that Klobochar has been “a strong and effective advocate for Minnesota farmers.” 

Klobochar is a member of the Senate Ag Committee. She is running against Rep. Kurt Bills.

Obama and Wolves — On the eve of the Democratic Party convention, the Obama administration removed wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list. And that has Rocky Barker at the Idaho Statesman wondering what the administration expects to gain from this decision.

The move has upset environmentalists and pleased Wyoming ranchers. But so what? After all, Barker writes, “The president is never going to win Wyoming.” 

Coal and West Virginia’s Future — Ken Ward Jr. quotes from a new report on the West Virginia economy, which finds that declining markets for Eastern coal will have severe impacts on the state. 

 

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