The Senate Ag committee is holding a hearing right now (9:30 Central) on rural development. You can see it here.
Already, Sen. Tom Harkin has spoken out against moving a biolab from Plum Island to the middle of Kansas. Later in the day, there will be testimony from a wide variety of people from rural communities and businesses.
We’ll be posting some very powerful testimony from Chuck Fluharty, president of the Rural Policy Research Institute. Be sure to tune back in.
• A rural dog won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show last night.
The 2012 Best In Show trophy went to Malachy, a Pekingese from East Berlin, Pennsylvania.
•The great Taylor Swift controversy goes on.
Recall that Taylor Swift sang “Mean” at the Grammy’s. “Mean” is a song about a man who dissed Taylor, said she had no talent. Swift said she would wind up “living in a big ole city” while the “mean” guy languished in Yonder.
People around Branson, Missouri, feel doubly dissed, however. The lyrics in the song say the “mean” guy is “washed up and ranting,” but people distinctly heard a new set of lyrics — that meanie was “washed up in Branson.”
Branson is a place where vintage country acts do shows. It’s not New York or even Las Vegas. It is, however, a very popular place to go, and residents there have taken offense.
“If she did say Branson, she needs to apologize,” says Cindy France, owner of EZ Center. “I felt it was a put-down. I was shocked. It hurt my feelings.”
Besides, however, France didn’t much like Swift’s Depression-era fashion statement. “She was acting like a hillbilly,” France said.
And so it goes.
• A doctor running a “pill mill” in southern Ohio has been sentenced to four life terms in federal prison.
Dr. Paul Volkman wrote prescriptions for at least 3.3 million pain pills and an untold number of other types of medications, according to court records. These pills led to overdose deaths in Kentucky and elsewhere.
“He was as bad as any doctor in the country,” said James Geldhof, DEA diversion program manager for the region that includes Kentucky.
• A French court found Monsanto guilty in the chemical poisoning of a French farmer.
The farmer claimed he had suffered neurological problems after inhaling Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller in 2004, according to Reuters. The farmer is a member of an association of farmers set up last year to argue that their health problems were caused by ag chemicals.
• Fascinating NPR story here about the decline of suitable habitat for bees.
As we know, bees are necessary for agriculture. Bee keepers make more money moving their bees to areas that need good pollinators — such as California during the almond bloom — than they do from honey.
Trouble is, beekeepers have a hard time finding a place that has a wide variety of plant life that can keep bees happy year-round. For a time, beekeepers trucked their hives to the upper Great Plains. Farmers had put a lot of acres into the conservation reserve program and that provided bees with a wide variety of flowering plants to feed from.
But as corn prices have risen, the acres in conservation reserve have declined. More land is put into corn and that leaves less territory for bees. More corn, less flora.
“The landscape is changing,” says Ned “Chip” Euliss, who lives in Jamestown, N.D., and works for the U.S. Geological Survey. “When I first came here, 20 years ago, it was rare to see a cornfield in North Dakota. Now, they’re very common.”
Beekeepers are running out of places to raise their critters — and that will affect everyone in agriculture (and everyone who eats).
• Profits at Deere & Co., the farm equipment maker, reported that its profits are at a record and that it expects a 15 percent sales growth this year.