Weekly Column

Wind Energy Leading the Way in 2013

The U.S. has seen strong growth in the wind energy industry, and 2012 was a record year for the amount of installed capacity. Over 13,000 megawatts of capacity was installed last year according to the American Wind Energy Association, which brings the total capacity to 60,007 megawatts nationwide.

Farm Bill Progress Still Stalled in Washington

Even though the Farm Bill was extended by the fiscal cliff legislation that passed in January, Congress is still making crucial farm and rural policy choices. Spending decisions in the appropriations and budget processes strike at the heart of the matter… whether we cut Farm Bill spending in ways that do the least damage or perhaps even help rural America, or slash investments in the future of rural people and rural places.
 

Spring and Conservation: Both in Season Now

Farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which rewards producers for conservation practices on working lands, thanks to passage of legislation that replaces funding for the 2013 CSP that was accidently cut off in the government spending bill that passed last October.

USDA can now proceed with enrolling just over 11 million acres of farm and ranch land in the program this year, bringing the program to a grand total of 62 million acres by year’s end.

Expanding Health Care Coverage is a Smart Investment

Hard-working Montana families need the security of quality health care. A bill in the legislature, HB 458, could help 69,000 Montanans gain that security. These people are your neighbors - farmers and ranchers, small business owners, retirees, and entrepreneurs that don’t get health insurance from their employers.

HB 458 would expand Montana’s Medicaid program, and create an estimated 12,000 to 16,000 jobs over the next 8 years. Over $2 billion would return to Montana’s economy in that same time period as a result of increased economic activity in the health sector.

Hot and Dry, Cold and Wet

In 2012, critically hot, dry weather hit the Midwest and Great Plains, while the East Coast endured floods, Hurricane Sandy and record New England snowfall. Climatologists described these specific weather events, for the first time, as part of a changing climate attributed to global warming.
 

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