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Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years

ABC News | Posted on May 22, 2017 in SARL Members and Alumni 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.

Low dairy consumption tied to risk of early menopause

Reuters | Posted on May 22, 2017 in Food News

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.

Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students

The New York Times | Posted on May 22, 2017 in Rural News

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.

SARL Members and Alumni News

Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years

ABC News | Posted on May 22, 2017

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.

Rural development— and a burned out bridge

Insider Advantage | Posted on May 20, 2017

Before the ink was dry on a US Department of Transportation pledge to give $10 million for the replacement of a still smoldering collapsed portion of I-85 in Atlanta, metro legislators were criticizing a well-thought-out, hard-fought-for, and long overdue measure designed to help revitalize rural Georgia.The “Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act” (GARJA), which passed minutes before the expiration of the 2017 legislative session, opens the door for small businesses in rural Georgia, approximately 130 counties, to have access to much needed growth capital.

Veto saves Leopold Center, but maintains funding cut

Iowa Farmer Today | Posted on May 18, 2017

A line-item veto by Gov. Terry Branstad on May 12 means the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University remains alive, but it has no money. Officials at Iowa State University and at the Leopold Center were left scrambling to figure out what happens next and how the center will change in the coming months and years.“It’s better than what it was before (the veto),” says Doug Gronau, a farmer who represents the Iowa Farm Bureau on the Leopold Center’s advisory board. “I think there definitely is going to be a reorganization.

Louisiana working on new food safety law

The Voice of Louisiana | Posted on May 18, 2017

During his report on the Voice of Louisiana Agriculture Radio Network, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain said he testified Tuesday before the Louisiana State Senate Agriculture Committee about several bills, including the Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act which is now in effect.

PA Lawmakers push for measures banning 'lunch shaming' in schools

Pittsburgh Post Gazette | Posted on May 12, 2017

Lawmakers from Pennsylvania are introducing bills at the state and federal level to ban the practice known as “lunch shaming” — taking away school meals or using other means to single out children with unpaid lunch bills. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, proposed legislation to end the practice, and a similar measure has since been put forth by state Reps. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Donna Bullock, D-Philadelphia. Mr.

Agriculture News

NC lawsuit shows hog waste contaminates nearby homes

Daily Yonder | Posted on May 22, 2017

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.

Most California farm-water suppliers are breaking this law. Why doesn’t the state act?

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on May 22, 2017

During California’s epic five-year drought, most of the state’s irrigation districts didn’t comply with a 2007 law that requires them to account for how much water they’re delivering directly to farmers, a Bee investigation has found. State regulators are largely powerless to stop them, but they don’t seem too bothered by it.

Lemon growers hope for repeat in new lawsuit over Argentine imports

The Business Journal | Posted on May 22, 2017

The U.S. Citrus Science Council has joined with five citrus growers in Central and Southern California to challenge the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to lift a 70-year-old ban preventing Argentine lemons from being imported to the U.S.  In the lawsuit, filed Thursday with the U.S.

Why your humble bowl of oatmeal could help feed a growing planet

The Washington Post | Posted on May 22, 2017

I’d go so far as to say we should all be eating oatmeal for breakfast, pretty much every day. Buy the big canister of rolled oats, which makes 30 servings and is often on sale at my local market for about $3 — which means oatmeal is 10 cents a bowl. You can get the steel-cut kind if you prefer; they’re nutritionally similar, but they cost more and take longer to cook. There are other oat-based products, of course. If you don’t want to turn whole oats into breakfast, you can let General Mills do it for you in the form of Cheerios.

California grid sets record, with 67% of power from renewables

San Francisco Gate | Posted on May 20, 2017

Early Saturday afternoon, renewable sources produced a record 67.2 percent of the electricity on the portion of the state’s power grid controlled by the California Independent System Operator. That figure does not include large hydropower facilities, which added another 13.5 percent. Based in Folsom, the ISO runs 80 percent of the state’s grid. More than half of the renewable energy flowing across the grid at that moment on Saturday came from large solar facilities and wind farms.

Federal News

White House budget plan could cut array of programs for farmers, rural America

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on May 22, 2017

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.

Anti-Immigration Reform and Reductions in Welfare: Evidence from the Meatpacking Industry

Choices magazine | Posted on May 20, 2017

The assumption that immigrants take jobs away from native workers presupposes that native workers and immigrants compete in the same labor market. If native and immigrant labor are substitutes, or they would accept the same kind of work, then both types of labor should have similar compensating wage differentials. The standard textbook theoretical discussion on compensating wage differentials implies that firms must compensate workers with more dangerous jobs with higher salaries.

ICE Raids Mushroom Farm in Chester County, Arrests Nine Alleged Undocumented Immigrants

NBC Phildelphia | Posted on May 20, 2017

In search of four undocumented immigrants, federal agents raided a mushroom farm facility in Chester County and took into custody nine workers there, according to witnesses and the owner of the farm. None of those nine workers were the four that officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement were reportedly looking for. ICE came onto the private property of a processing facility owned by South Mill Mushrooms Wednesday morning.

USDA reorganization plan could reduce food safety protections

Feed Safety News | Posted on May 20, 2017

A seemingly minor component of the USDA reorganization plan released last week could have a negative impact on food safety as the plan gets implemented. Much of the focus has been on the creation of a new undersecretary for trade position, but the plan also calls for the establishment of an interagency committee that would coordinate agricultural trade policy. This committee would be chaired by the new trade undersecretary and would include, among other agencies, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).

Government Confirms A Surge In Foreign Guest Workers On U.S. Farms

NPR | Posted on May 20, 2017

The numbers are out — and they confirm what we've been hearing from farmers and immigration lawyers. More and more farmers are turning to foreign "guest workers" to plant and harvest the country's crops.Farmers have to get permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to bring in foreign workers using a category of visa called H-2A. During the first three months of 2017, the Department of Labor approved applications to fill 69,272 farm jobs with workers on H-2A visas.

Rural News

Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students

The New York Times | Posted on May 22, 2017

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.

Hospital tax credit hike gains final passage

Atlanta Journal Constitution | Posted on May 20, 2017

Legislation boosting the value of a rural hospital tax credit gained final passage in the General Assembly on Thursday. The House and Senate agreed on a compromise to House Bill 180 that increases from 70 percent to 90 percent the value of the credit taxpayers can earn from contributions to qualifying rural hospitals.  Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, in 2016 championed a plan to create the tax credit program at 90 percent, but the Senate balked. A 70 percent compromise was signed into law, but the reduced value of the credit has limited their popularity.  

Rural development— and a burned out bridge

Insider Advantage | Posted on May 20, 2017

Before the ink was dry on a US Department of Transportation pledge to give $10 million for the replacement of a still smoldering collapsed portion of I-85 in Atlanta, metro legislators were criticizing a well-thought-out, hard-fought-for, and long overdue measure designed to help revitalize rural Georgia.The “Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act” (GARJA), which passed minutes before the expiration of the 2017 legislative session, opens the door for small businesses in rural Georgia, approximately 130 counties, to have access to much needed growth capital.

Rural Mainstreet Sinks for the Month

Creighton University Economic Outlook | Posted on May 20, 2017

Farm Loans Rise to Record Level.Survey Results at a Glance:  The overall index fell below growth neutral for the 20th straight month. Loan volume soars to record level as banks reject fewer loan applications.Almost one-third of bankers indicate no change in lending practices stemming from the downturn in the farm economy.  For 2017, bank CEOs expect approximate cash expenses to exceed cash revenues for 17.1 percent of grain farmers, down from 19.5 percent in 2016. Farmland prices declined for the 41st straight month, but the percent of cash farmland sales remained steady from 2015

'Narco-deforestation' study links loss of Central American tropical forests to cocaine

Science Daily | Posted on May 18, 2017

Central American tropical forests are beginning to disappear at an alarming rate, threatening the livelihood of indigenous peoples there and endangering some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America. The culprit? Cocaine.

Energy News

Major fossil fuel firms are using renewable energy to cut costs

Independent | Posted on May 18, 2017

Major mining companies, including some of the world's biggest suppliers of fossil fuel, are seeking to use more renewable energy themselves as they strive to drive down costs and curb emissions.

Iowa senator slams energy chief for grid study undermining wind energy

Business Insider | Posted on May 18, 2017

Iowa's Republican senator on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has commissioned a "hastily developed" study of the reliability of the electric grid that appears "geared to undermine" the wind energy industry.In a letter sent to Perry, Senator Chuck Grassley asked a series of questions about the 60-day study he commissioned.

‘Big Ethanol’ Ad Criticized by Recreational Boating Group

Sporting Fish Magazine | Posted on May 18, 2017

Recreational boating organization BoatUS criticized one of America's top ethanol trade associations, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), for a new advertising campaign published on the Ethanol Producer Magazine's website. The campaign, tied to the start of boating season, supports the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a 2005 law which BoatUS said mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. Groups have long opposed this legislation and made attempts for change.

Virginia is proposing its own power plant rules

Huffington Post | Posted on May 18, 2017

Virginia became the first state since President Donald Trump abandoned rules to reduce power plant emissions to begin drafting rules to replace the federal mandate.At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered state air regulators to propose rules by the end of the year to scale back carbon dioxide emissions from the utility sector and increase renewable energy investments throughout the state. “This should be done on the federal level,” McAuliffe told HuffPost by phone ahead of the announcement.

Energy Company Unhooks Gas Lines After Fatal Colorado Blast

US News and World Report | Posted on May 18, 2017

The company that owns a gas well linked to a fatal home explosion in Colorado said Tuesday it will permanently disconnect other pipelines in the area like the one blamed in the explosion.Anadarko Petroleum, which owns the well, did not say how many pipelines would be disconnected. But the company has said it operates more than 3,000 similar wells in northeastern Colorado.Fire investigators have said unrefined, odorless natural gas from a severed 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pipeline seeped into a home in the town of Firestone, causing the April 17 explosion that killed two people.

Food News

Low dairy consumption tied to risk of early menopause

Reuters | Posted on May 22, 2017

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.

Butterball to close Gusto pork plant in Illinois, exit pork business

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on May 20, 2017

Butterball plans to close the former Gusto Packing pork processing plant in Montgomery, Ill., it purchased in 2013, eliminating about 600 jobs, and ending production of the Gusto-branded bacon and ham products the plant was making. “With this closure, the company will be exiting the pork business both branded and private label by July 17, 2017.”

Confused about what’s healthy? A new nutrition survey shows you’re not alone.

The Washington Post | Posted on May 18, 2017

If I asked you, “Who do you trust?” you would probably name a friend or family member — unless the topic is nutrition. Odds are your nearest and dearest are not your most trusted sources for nutrition information, even though there’s an excellent chance that you rely on them to decide what to eat.

Mara Abbott: GMO debate about everything except GMOs

Daily Camera | Posted on May 16, 2017

Last December, Adrian Card ruined grocery shopping for me. Card is the CSU extension agent to Boulder County, and was the lead author of "Economic, Environmental and Social Implications of Cropping Systems in Boulder County," a 2015 briefing paper for the county commissioners.

Study of meat from home delivery services shows disturbing results

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on May 16, 2017

Researchers at Rutgers University and Tennessee State University who ordered and tested hundreds of meat, poultry, game and seafood items from home delivery systems such as meal kits found disturbing results relative to cold-chain integrity, packaging, labeling and pathogen loads on some of these food items. Of consumers interviewed, 95 percent believed these products to be safe. However, many of these food items arrived as unexpected gifts, increasing the likelihood the products might sit outside for eight hours or more before being opened and refrigerated.