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USDA officials diagnose rural America's needs

agri-pulse | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Rural News

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the depth of poverty in rural America at a Farm Foundation Forum Monday, while at a separate meeting, Lisa Mensah, his top assistant on rural development, called for increased access to broadband as a way to give an economic boost to underserved communities.

Vilsack, speaking at the National Press Club, stressed the importance of targeting USDA resources in rural counties that are persistently impoverished - where at least 20 percent of the county's population has been living in poverty for the last 30 years or more.


New Food Safety Law Gives States a Big Role

Pew Trust | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Federal News

With the most extensive food safety regulations in history set to take effect soon, state agriculture officials across the country are preparing to enforce the federal law, but say their ability to inspect farms and enforce the new standards depends on the receipt of promised federal funds.


Metro Areas Gain Jobs at Faster Rate than Rural

Daily Yonder | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Rural News

From February 2015 to February 2016, unemployment remained higher in nonmetropolitan areas. The rural heartland did better than the South or the eastern coalfields.


Local Foods and Farm Business Survival and Growth

USDA | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in News

Data from the 2007 and 2012 Agricultural Censuses show that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms who market through traditional channels.

While farmers who directly market to consumers are more likely to continue farming than those who do not, their businesses expand at a slower rate.


Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices

USDA | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Federal News

This proposed rule would create greater consistency in organic livestock and poultry practices. AMS has determined that the current USDA organic regulations (7 CFR Part 205) covering livestock health care practices and living conditions need additional specificity and clarity to better ensure consistent compliance by certified organic operations and to provide for more effective administration of the National Organic Program (NOP) by AMS.


Why fighting climate change won't destroy the economy

Desert Sun | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in News

As the reality of human-caused climate change has become harder to deny, opponents of climate action have adopted a new talking point. Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, they say, would devastate the American economy, sending electricity prices through the roof, forcing people to abandon their cars and putting millions of people out of work.


Roadmaps for everystate to renewable energy

Stanford | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Energy News

This study presents roadmaps for each of the 50 United States to convert their all-purpose energy systems (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) to ones powered entirely by wind, water, and sunlight (WWS). The plans contemplate 80–85% of existing energy replaced by 2030 and 100% replaced by 2050. C


At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction

Tampa Bay Times | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in News

This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby.  More often than not, those things are fairy tales. A long list of Tampa Bay restaurants are willing to capitalize on our hunger for the story. “Well, we serve local within reason.”  What makes buying food different from other forms of commerce is this: It’s a trust-based system.


Farmers Reap New Tools From Their Own High-Tech Tinkering

Wall Street Journal | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in Agriculture News

The green tractor trundling across a Manitoba field with an empty cab looks like it’s on a collision course with Matt Reimer’s combine—until it neatly turns to pull alongside so he can pour freshly harvested wheat into its trailer. The robot tractor isn’t a prototype or top-of-the-line showpiece. It’s an eight-year-old John Deere that the 30-year-old Mr. Reimer modified with drone parts, open-source software and a Microsoft Corp. tablet. All told, those items cost him around $8,000.


Water quality bills likely dead at Statehouse

Des Moines Register | Posted onApril 21, 2016 in News

Hope is fading that the Iowa Legislature can agree on funding statewide water quality programs in the final days before the 2016 session adjourns.   An Iowa Senate subcommittee approved a bill raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 cent, which would generate about $180 million starting next year. About 60 percent of that revenue would be directed to cleaning up Iowa's polluted waters.  But Democratic and Republican Senate leaders soon after said that a tax hike has virtually no chance of winning approval this year.


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