Wednesday Roundup: Film and Story on Western Energy

Senate delays all post office closings past November election • Markup of Farm Bill delayed in the Senate • A film from the Rural West Initiative on Great Plains energy

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Just as beef producers are dealing with the “pink slime” controversy, a California dairy cow tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease. This is the first case of BCE found in the U.S. since 2006. 

No meat from the animal had entered the food chain and the disease cannot be passed to humans through milk.

The USDA said it found the animal through the agency’s ongoing surveillance system. It tests about 40,000 cows a year. This animal was being taken to a rendering plant.

• Research in the United Kingdom finds that white space technology could help bring broadband connections to up to two million rural residents. 

• Strong words here from the Organization for Competitive Markets. OCM is attacking the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s position on the Farm Bill, where it wants to do away with the livestock title.

OCM quotes former GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler:

The provisions that NCBA wants to permanently prevent include the unfair, unjustly discriminatory, and deceptive practice or devices section that would prevent actions by the packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers against family farmers and ranchers such as retaliation, fraud. and bad faith, just to name a few. The leadership at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is totally captured by the packers and is nothing more than trained Judas goats, leading their members to the slaughterhouse of vertical integration.   

• The Senate Ag committee had scheduled a markup of the Farm Bill this morning, but then abruptly canceled the session

DTN’s Chris Clayton reports that farm organizations in the South, unhappy with parts of the proposed bill, had pushed for the delay. 

• Long story here in High Country News about the effects of the Bakken oil and gas boom on tribes. 

• The Lexington (Ky.) newspaper notes that money collected to repair damage from coal strip mining is being used to renovate a basketball arena in Wyoming.

The money comes from the Abandoned Mine Lands fund, which is replenished by a tax on each ton of coal mined. The money is then returned to the states where the coal is mined to reclaim mined land.

Trouble is, where most of the coal is mined (Wyoming), there are few projects, while in the eastern coalfields there is more work to be done than money to pay for it. So, Wyoming repairs basketball arenas while West Virginia has nearly a billion dollars in unfunded projects. 

“The solution is obvious: Allocate the money based on need, not on coal production,” the paper editorializes. “The Obama administration has repeatedly proposed doing this, most recently in February. But Congress has shown little interest.” 

• The Rural West Initiative at Stanford University has produced a documentary on the energy boom in the northern Great Plains. Beautiful and informative. What more do you want. See it here

• The Senate agreed to amendments Tuesday that would bar the closing of rural post offices for a year, give new ways for appeals of closures and ban any closures before November (when, of course, there are elections). 

This bill (which would also give back $11 billion that the government had taken from the Postal Service) is expected to pass the Senate today. And it would cut in half (from 252 to 125) the number of processing facilities the Postal Service may close.

Nobody seems very happy with the bill, which everyone describes as a stopgap measure.

 

 

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