Wednesday Roundup: Tornadoes Then and Now

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We know about the destruction tornadoes brought first in Tuscaloosa and then in Joplin. Robin Lambert writes in Rural Matters about how these storms affected rural communities:

The rural tragedies have proven harder to catalog and report. In part, that’s because they are so spread out and much more removed from the media spotlight. Covered primarily in local newspapers, websites, Facebook pages, and YouTube videos, rural tornado news has been directed mostly to a local audience.

To our knowledge no national media outlet has attempted to catalog the scope of the tornado disaster as it impacts rural communities. The relative lack of coverage creates the impression that damage in rural communities is more minor and contained than it is. It also suggests a lack of understanding and interest in rural issues on the part of national media, and that makes it more difficult for rural communities to attract the attention and assistance they need.

Even before the Joplin tornado when urban deaths accounted for less than 25% of 2011 violent weather deaths, several reports attributed the high tornado death to the tornadoes’ strikes on urban areas. These attributions are, at best, misleading.

• The Scottish government has asked for a moratorium on rural school closures until June 2012, the BBC reports

Education Secretary Mike Russell said that rural school closures “rarely” saved money, because costs increased elsewhere, especially in transportation.

• The Gates Foundation has committed $1.7 billion in the last five years to end hunger in Africa. To achieve the goal may take 20 years more. The AP reports

Some people have been helped, and the foundation expects more will be in years to come, but agricultural development happens slowly, said Roy Steiner, the foundation’s deputy director of global development.

As an example, he said some Kenyan farmers will receive seeds for drought-tolerant maize this year. They’ll try them out, see the results and decide whether to adopt them more enthusiastically next year. A year after that, increased production could give them more money to buy food for their families or fertilizer to improve their other crops.

“It takes years and years to shift the system,” Steiner said.

• Food price inflation in Venezuela is above the overall inflation rate of 22.9%, the AP reports. The high cost of food in the country is changing diets. 

• The latest Iowa poll shows Mitt Romney leading among Republicans, with 21%. Herman Cain and Sarah Palin each have support of 15% of possible Iowa caucus-goers and Newt Gingrich has 12%.

Palin has gained 7 percentage points in the last six weeks. 

• The House Appropriations Committee approved a proposal to cut off farm subsidies to farmers who have adjusted gross income of more than $250,000 a year. 

• The American Farm Bureau is opposed to a House amendment that would suspend work on new livestock marketing rules, Jerry Hagstrom reports

The livestock rules are controversial. They would give the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration greater powers to govern livestock markets — and in the process, diminish the powers of meat packers.

The House has cut off funding, but yesterday, Hagstrom reports, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (an Ohio Democrat) unveiled a letter from American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman that supports the rules.

“We oppose language to preclude USDA from reviewing the comments and completing their economic analysis and are strongly opposed to any action that would stop work on that rule,” Stallman wrote. Kaptur has submitted an amendment that would restore funding for the GIPSA rules.

The AFB lines up with the National Farmers Union on this issue.

“Preventing the use of funds to protect farmers and ranchers from the abuses of packers and processors has little budgetary impact,” NFU President Roger Johnson stated.

“We appreciate the efforts of Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio to support farmers and ranchers by introducing an amendment to remove the language,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, the language was included in the approved bill, which is a blatant attempt to advance a policy goal through appropriations, and I urge that funds for the enforcement of the GIPSA rule be reinstated in future versions of the agriculture appropriations bill.”

 

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