Farm & Rural Digest

Here's our not-quite-regular contribution to the Digest over at Ethicurean.

153 just say no: Farm Bill negotiations are bumping and grinding along with no clear path forward. Now a powerful coalition of 153 liberal House members are threatening to pull their support for the final bill unless it makes significant and permanent increases in anti-hunger and nutrition programs. The demand promises to make developing a final bill more difficult, but justly so. (The Hill)

Revolutionizing Africa: One Holstein at a Time: Ankole cattle are uniquely adapted to their native home of Uganda. But the Ankole isn’t half the grain-eating, milk-producing, manure-spewing machine that the American Holstein is, so now everyone from the World Bank to Heifer International is doing their best to supplant the graceful natives with the (more familiar to them) Holstein. Their partners in crime run the gamut from US AID to the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations and even agribusiness giant Land O’Lakes. They come together around one clear goal: make African agriculture look more like America agriculture. What could possibly be wrong with that? Fun fact: Two legendary U.S. Holsteins from the 1960s, Chief and Elevation, fathered tens of thousands of offspring in their lifetimes and beyond, thanks to cryogenically frozen sperm; 30% of all the Holstein genes in the world are traceable to those two bulls. (New York Times Magazine)

Water czar goes to war: In the arid West the battle over water is intensifying. Kansas "Water Czar" David Barfield is demanding to know how Nebraska plans to meet its water obligations to Kansas. Nebraska, he charges, has failed to send enough water downriver to Kansas in four of the last five years. One thing is clear: Throughout the West there is a growing demand for this scarce resource. No bets on who will win this war. (Brownfield)

Dream big: Imagine you are involved in a very, very large farm operation. How big? How about 70,000 milk cows, or 12,000 acres of corn, or 50,000 acres of organic pasture. Yes these farms really do exist. Go see your yourself. It’s even more amazing than you can possible imagine. (Farm Gate)

Ethanol helps, not that much: The benefits of ethanol production to rural communities are real, they just aren’t that significant. New research by Iowa State University Economist David Swenson details the gap between the actual number of jobs and economic activity created, and the claims ethanol’s proponents make. The gap between the rhetoric and the real benefits to rural communities is great, the report cautions. (Daily Yonder)

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