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  • Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years | ABC News

    With laughter, hugs and tears — and the requisite death-defying stunts — the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus received its final standing ovation Sunday night as it performed its last show.  "We are, forevermore, the Greatest Show on Earth," boomed Johnathan Lee Iverson, who has been the ringmaster since 1999. His son, who also performed, stood by his side. It was an emotional 2 1/2 hours for those who worked on the circus. Many of Ringling's employees are second, third and even fourth-generation circus performers, while others met their spouses while touring. All spent months on the road, traveling from city to city in Ringling's train cars and describing themselves as a giant family, albeit one with many clowns.But it also was the fans who felt like family.Elaine Bario, a 57-year-old usher at the Nassau County Coliseum, said she's seen the circus every time it's been on Long Island — some years as a child with her father, who also was an usher at the same venue."The animals, this is where we fell in love with them," she said. "We got to see animals here and the Bronx Zoo. We don't go on safaris."Bario cried as she watched the final big cat act with its leopards, tigers and Alexander Lacey, the handsome animal trainer."I've always had a crush on the lion tamers," she said, laughing through tears.But it was those animal shows that led to the circus' eventual demise.Over the years, animal rights activists had targeted Ringling, saying that forcing animals to perform and transporting them around the country amounted to abuse. In May 2016, the company removed elephants from its shows, but ticket sales continued to decline. People, it seemed, didn't want to see a circus without elephants. Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, announced in January it would close the show, citing declining attendance and high operating costs.A handful of protesters stood outside the venue on Sunday, with signs that said "compassion always wins," and "the future is animal free."Feld Entertainment CEO Kenneth Feld said that "we all have to embrace change."Feld's father and uncle bought the circus in 1967. It was sold to Mattel in 1971, but the Feld family continued to manage the shows. The Felds bought the circus back in 1982.Earlier Sunday, a group of retired and former circus performers sat across the street at a hotel bar, laughing and hugging and sharing memories of tours past.In the end, though, Feld executives said they knew the circus couldn't compete with iPhones, the internet, video games and massively branded and carefully marketed characters. Their other productions — Frozen on Ice, Marvel Live, Supercross, Monster Trucks, Disney on Ice — resonate better with younger generations. But that didn't stop the circus from giving the performance of their life, one last time, to one last crowd.

    Post date: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 16:10
  • Low dairy consumption tied to risk of early menopause | Reuters

    Women in their early 40s with the highest intake of vitamin D and calcium from food sources may have a lower than average risk of starting menopause before age 45, a recent study suggests.Taking vitamin D or calcium in supplement form had no benefit in the large study of U.S. nurses, the study team writes in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and there may be other substances in dairy foods that also contribute to their apparent protective effect.“Early menopause can have substantial health impacts for women. It increases their risk of cardiovascular disease and early cognitive decline and osteoporosis,” lead author Alexandra Purdue-Smithe told Reuters Health.In addition, as women are delaying having kids into their later reproductive years, having early menopause can have a substantial impact on their ability to conceive as they wish, which can have psychological and financial consequences, said Purdue-Smithe, an epidemiologist with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

    Post date: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 14:18
  • Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students | The New York Times

    The first time Nyreke Peters met the new college adviser at his rural high school, he was skeptical. Other adults at Hobbton High School spoke with the same Southern accent and shared an easygoing familiarity that came from having gone to the same schools and having spent their lives in the same county. The adviser, Emily Hadley, was a determined recent college graduate from New Hampshire who seemed bizarrely interested in his future and pressed him to think beyond the confines of the sweet potato and hog farms.Mr. Peters, a senior, had his sights set on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but she persuaded him to apply to Middlebury College, an elite institution in Vermont that he had never heard of.A few months later, to his astonishment, he was admitted. A scholarship fund from Sampson County, a little more than an hour’s drive south of Raleigh, N.C., paid for him to visit, and he decided to attend. Ms. Hadley is part of a nonprofit organization, and a movement, trying to break down the social, economic and psychological barriers that keep low-income rural students from having a shot at the elite range of the American dream.Most low-income students rely on their parents for college advice, and many of them end up going to colleges that are less rigorous than they can handle, the research shows.Her organization, the College Advising Corps, places recent graduates in public high schools for two-year stints as full-time college advisers, where they make up for a widespread scarcity of college counselors and bring their own recent experience to bear on the college application process.

    Post date: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 14:15
  • NC lawsuit shows hog waste contaminates nearby homes | Daily Yonder

    Hog feces particles are likely getting inside North Carolina homes that are close to a large hog operation, a university study shows. The report, presented as evidence in a federal lawsuit, may contradict claims that hog operations don't transmit pathogens to nearby properties. The bacteria, called pig2bac, are a marker for pig feces, which contains hundreds of other pathogens many of which can make people sick.The evidence was filed in federal court last Friday and comes as state Republicans are pushing forward a bill to shield large-scale farms from many of the legal claims that seek to recover damages from lost property value, health effects and overall suffering from living near hog farm pollution and smells. The evidence was from a study by Shane Rogers, a professor and researcher at Clarkston University in New York, who tested the air and land and exterior walls of 17 homes near a Smithfield Foods hog confinement operation. The testing was done was done in 2016.

    Post date: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 14:10
  • White House budget plan could cut array of programs for farmers, rural America | The Progressive Farmer

    Despite a push by farm organizations to double the budgets for a pair of USDA export programs, a leaked copy of the Trump administration's proposed budget zeros out funding for both programs. The White House is expected to release President Donald Trump's budget proposal Tuesday for fiscal year 2018. The plan will recommend Congress cut a broad array of domestic programs, which includes programs farmers rely on for trade, conservation and possibly even commodity programs. Jon Doggett, executive vice president for policy at the National Corn Growers Association, said groups across the political spectrum will be looking at the budget for the White House's overall priorities in the years to come."When the president's budget comes up, there's always a tendency to say the president's budget is dead on arrival. I think it's important to look at this one," Doggett said. "It's important in that it tells us a lot where the Trump administration plans to go in the future, not only as personnel policy, but money policy as well. I think we will have a better idea on how they plan to move forward in reshaping the government."  a spreadsheet of the White House budget plan that showed significant cuts to USDA programs in areas such as trade promotion, agricultural research, biorefinery development, rural housing loans and rural development programs.Under the Agricultural Marketing Service, the budget shows a $263.3 million cut to funds for strengthening markets. That would wipe out the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, a pair of programs that farm groups say funding should be doubled to help expand markets and counter the loss of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Commodity groups are pushing Congress to double funding for MAP and FMD in the next farm bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition cited that the budget would eliminate funding for rural housing and infrastructure programs at USDA, including Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Cooperative Development grants and Rural Housing Assistance. NSAC also pointed to deep cuts in areas such as rural water and wastewater programs.

    Post date: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:28

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Gleanings

Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  

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Farm

Are corporations taking over America’s food supply?

15 March, 2016

Family farms.  The foundation of America’s food security.  According to the USDA, 97 percent of farms are family farms, and they grow 90 percent of the food produced. But national policies to keep food affordable (American’s spend less than 7 percent of their paycheck for food) and the boom and bust cycles of farming have resulted in larger, more concentrated farming practices. 

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