Digest: Dairy lobby saddles up, genetic monocultures, light pheasantries

Our weekly contribution to the Digest over at Ethicurean.

Milking the Farm Bill: One intriguing aspect of the 2007 Farm Bill is the lack of controversy over the dairy program, a source of much tension in previous farm bills. But some Vermont dairy farmers are pushing for a new price stabilization fee, which will cause a stir if it gains traction. (Associated Press)

Sperm and ovaries: A new report shows the need to preserve genetic diversity of livestock species. The trend of CAFO pork production has resulted in large numbers of genetically similar hogs - all of which are dried-up shoe leather cuts compared to a juicy Berkshire, dirt-raised chop. And by juicy we mean fat-filled. Fancy folks call it "marbling." (Science Daily)

Driving out the pheasants: South Dakota’s best-in-the-nation pheasant population is set for its best year since 1963, but uncertainty about a key federal farm program draws the future of the official state bird into question. At root, it is another consequence of ethanol. South Dakota makes a lot of money off pheasant hunting. (Argus Leader)

Friday night lights: A fall Friday night in a Midwest rural community means nearly the entire town gathers to watch the high school football game. A central aspect of the community, these towns find a way to keep playing the game even as the number of students falls. (New York Times)

Empty schools: As people abandon the plains, so go the students. In their wake they leave empty schools in the heart of many rural communities. Some communities are in search of new uses for these now-vacant buildings. (Omaha World Herald)

Sue them: Oklahoma’s Attorney General is suing large out-of-state poultry producers who locate facilities there. The facilities contribute to water pollution in the state, and the Attorney General argues that states need more legal tools to help stop and clean up animal waste pollution. (Reuters)

Building them big: Traditionally home to family-sized dairy operations, the Midwest is seeing more mega-dairies and fewer of the smaller dairies with each passing year. First appearing in the Western U.S. in the 1970s, large dairies with herds of 1,000 cows or more are spreading eastward in greater numbers. (Cattle Network)

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