Thursday Roundup: Goodbye to the Barn Dance
Death rates in coal mining counties • Almost half of rural counties have natural population decrease • Rain is getting heavier
In a third of all counties last year, there were more deaths than births, reports the Census and demographer Ken Johnson. And last year, for the first time in U.S. history, deaths exceeded births in two states — Maine and West Virginia.
Nearly 46 percent of all rural (nonmetropolitan) counties had more deaths than births from July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012. Among urban counties, 17 percent had a natural decrease.
Bloomberg in Mississippi — Mississippi isn’t waiting for Mike Bloomberg and his limits on soda size to come to the state. The legislature has passed a bill saying that “cities or counties cannot enact rules limiting soda size, salt content, shortening in cookies, toys in fast-food meals for children, how a menu is written or just about any other aspect of the daily dining experience in Mississippi.”
The bill was passed in response to efforts in New York City to ban large sodas and other dietary regulations. Legislators called it the Bloomberg Bill, in honor of the New York mayor.
Missing Monarchs — Seeing the migration of monarch butterflies is one of nature’s wonders. However, the movement of the critters this year will be much smaller as the number of Monarchs wintering in Mexican forests has shrunk to its lowest level in at least two decades.
“The area of forest occupied by the butterflies, once as high at 50 acres, dwindled to 2.94 acres in the annual census conducted in December, Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas disclosed at a news conference in Zitácuaro, Mexico,” reports the New York Times’ Mike Wines.
The declines have been caused by drought and record-breaking heat in North America.
Retiring Boomers — The loss to the workforce of retiring baby boomers is already affecting the Iowa economy, a new report finds.
“We’ve acted like it’s a problem that’s five years down the road, but it’s happening right now and it will accelerate over the next 10 years,” said David Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, who released a report Wednesday looking at the economic impact of population trends, such as retiring baby boomers and the out-migration of young workers.
GIPSA in the Senate — Several agriculture groups have written the Senate Ag Committee to protest the inclusion of a provision in the bill that restricts the ability of the USDA to address competition issues under the Grain Inspections Packers and Stockyards Act. Agri-Pulse has the letter here
he letter says:
In addition to placing a general limitation on the ability of USDA to address a whole array of fraudulent, deceptive, anti-competitive and retaliatory practices that have become commonplace in the livestock and poultry sectors, Section 742 of the Senate Continuing Resolution actually rescinds specific poultry farmer protection regulations that had been previously approved for final promulgation by the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations.
According to procedures outlined in the final FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, USDA stopped its work on a subset of proposed Packers and Stockyards Act regulations, and moved forward in finalizing another subset of regulations under procedures specified in the bill. The result was that USDA issued a final livestock and poultry rule under its Packers and Stockyards Act authorities on December 9, 2011. The gross mistreatment of poultry growers has been widely reported and the USDA regulations respond directly to the directives from the 2008 Farm Bill requiring USDA to address the most egregious of these abuses. Those rules, which are now in effect, would be rescinded by the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution now pending in the Senate.
Keystone and Jobs — President Obama told House Republicans yesterday he’s still thinking about issuing a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil to the Texas Gulf Coast.
He said the number of jobs to be created by KXL was probably exaggerated by supporters.
Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry said Obama appeared “conflicted” about the pipeline, the AP reports.
Keystone XL Exports — Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that “Much of the crude oil flowing down the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would likely end up being exported as refined products by U.S. companies, a prospect that is further stirring debate over whether the project serves the national interest.”
Supporters say exports are good for the economy. Opponents say this undercuts the notion that Canadian tar sands oil is critical for U.S. energy needs.
“Both sides are describing the Obama administration’s decision on Keystone XL, expected by this summer, as an important symbolic moment in energy policy,” the WSJ reports.
Death Rates in Mining Counties — Ken Ward Jr. reports on a new study finding that people in “coal-mining communities of West Virginia suffer higher overall death rates than non-mining areas of Appalachia.”
The study’s authors can’t tell from the data if mining is the cause of the disparity.
The Rain Is Heavier — A University of Iowa study finds that heavy rains are getting more frequent in the Midwest.
“We found that there is a tendency toward increasing trends in heavy rainfall in the northern part of the study region, roughly the upper Mississippi River basin,” says Gabriele Villarini, in the civil and environmental engineering department and an assistant research engineer at the IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering. “We tried to explain these results in light of changes in temperature. We found that the northern part of the study region—including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois—is also the area experiencing large increasing trends in temperature, resulting in an increase in atmospheric water vapor.“