Weekend Roundup: Seed Money

Nebraska donate grain to charity • Obama administration proposes new -- and weakened -- "fracking" rule • Find the best burger in Iowa

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This is pretty cool: The Lincoln Township Library in Wausa, Nebraska, is raising money for a new addition and is collecting grain from area farmers to help fund the project.

Judy Carlson, president of the local library foundation, first got local seed corn dealers to contribute 10 bags of seed to be used as door prizes at a fundraising supper aimed at farmers. Some 50 farmers attended the supper to learn about the new library — and about how farmers are increasingly donating grain instead of cash to worthy causes.

Judy asked the farmers to donate a bushel of grain for every acre planted, and that night farmers gave the library $5,000 worth of grain. The local grain elevator is also chipping in ten cents for every bushel designated for charity.

This is getting to be a trend in Nebraska. The Nebraska Community Foundation in the last nine months has received 82 gifts of grain and livestock worth more than $277,000.

Farmers like the arrangement. They can make a gift, reduce their tax liability and still deduct all their expenses involved with production.

• The Obama administration Friday issued a proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas extraction technique known as “fracking.” 

The rule will require oil and gas companies operating on public lands to disclose the chemicals they pump underground to force out the oil and gas. “But in a significant concession to the oil industry, companies would have to reveal the composition of fluids only after the drilling of a well is completed, not before, a sharp change from the government’s original proposal, which would have required disclosure of the chemicals 30 days before a well could be started,” the New York Times reports. 

The paper reports that the “weakening” of the rule happened after a series of meetings at the White House. Oil and gas representatives, from companies such as ExxonMobil, XTO Energy, Apache, Samson Resources and Anadarko Petroleum, met with officials from the Office of Management and Budget, “who reworked the rule to address industry concerns about overlapping state regulations and the cost of compliance,” the paper reports.

Landowners contend that fracking has been found to contaminate ground water. (One Pennsylvania resident entertains reporters by setting afire the stuff that comes out of his faucet.) But industry officials objected to the original rules, saying they would slow production. The rules here only apply to drilling operations on 700 million acres of public land and on 56 million acres of Indian land. Nine out of ten wells drilled each year using fracking techniques.

•The U.S. Postal Service is asking the House to pass legislation quickly that would allow it to close post offices and eliminate Saturday delivery, the AP reports

The Postal Service board of governors does not appear to be happy with a Senate bill that would make it harder to close up to 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 post offices.

• Save the Post Office reports that a revised Postal Service report says the total cost savings of closing 260 mail processing centers has dropped from $2.1 billion to $1.6 billion. 

The savings from closing the centers are now about half of what the Postal Service originally announced.

• Perhaps the most famous horse farm in the nation was sold this week to a trust that will lease the land, known for its freshly painted white fences, to a horseman who will continue to breed thoroughbreds on the property. 

Calumet covers 800 acres. (See Lexington Herald-Leader picture above.) The price was close to $40 million, which not only includes the land and barn, but the name and, possibly, the Calumet racing silks. Investors in the trust were not named.

The farm is close to Lexington, Kentucky, and has been eyed by developers for years. Calumet has been home to 8 Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners.

• The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has named the Coon Bowl in Coon Rapids, Iowa, as having the state’s best burger

The burgers are so thick, they take 15 minutes to cook. 

• The Des Moines Register’s editorial page writes about the farm bill

• Here’s a good business idea — We Rent Goats.

Tim Linquist is renting out goats to cut back on the grass and brush in fire-prone areas near Boise, Idaho. Linquist figures 100 goats will clear an acre a day. 

• A proposed USDA rule would “erase some mad cow disease import restrictions and weaken protections against the illness, a coalition of 31 mostly farm and rancher groups said.” The report is in Bloomberg.

The USDA would adopt World Organization for Animal Health criteria to identify a country’s risk for mad cow disease. This would allow import of cattle from countries that don’t have effective feed bans, according to Alan Bjerga. Most mad cow is transmitted through tainted feed. 

 

 

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