Here are a few news stories from around the country that the National Farmers Union is following plus a couple from the Ohio media OFU is following:
Ohio manufacturers to gain from ‘biopreferred’ labels
July 28, 2011 – Dayton Business Journal
Many Ohio manufacturers should benefit as 14 bio-based product categories are now eligible for federal procurement preference. The move expands business opportunities for Ohio-manufactured products made with agricultural products.
Biobased products are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients — renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. A BioPreferred designated item is one that meets or exceeds USDA established minimum biobased content requirements.
Already, more than 70 Ohio companies manufacturing biobased products are eligible for preferred federal procurement under the USDA’s biopreferred program.
Potential of shale gas boom hard to nail down
July 31, 2011 – Columbus Dispatch
Right now, beneath your feet, Ohio has oil and gas deposits so vast that they could transform the economy.
But there are many reasons for skepticism. These shale-based resources are difficult to reach and expensive to extract, and they come with a host of concerns about air and water pollution.
Ohio leaders are in the early stages of figuring out how to navigate this complicated situation. Meanwhile, oil and gas producers are making bets that the obstacles can be overcome.
Last week, some big numbers became part of the discussion: $15 billion to $20 billion. That’s the range of income that Chesapeake Energy said it expects to generate from drilling in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio.
For some perspective, Ohio had $665 million worth of oil and gas production in 2009, the most-recent data available. Chesapeake’s potential income, even if spread over several decades, would be a huge increase in the state’s production.
Farm Bill Needs Major Overhaul to Aid Hungry
July 29, 2011 – Pressconnects.com
by Mark A. Dunlea
The Federal Farm Bill is up for renewal next year. It needs a major overhaul so it will help family farms and promote healthier diets.
Family farms continue to disappear at an alarming rate. Most support goes to wealthy investors owning corporate farms. The average payment for 80 percent of farmers is $579.
Processing facilities need to be funded so medium-sized farmers aren’t forced to raise their crops and livestock solely based on the dictates of a few large corporations. The Farm Bill must do a better job of supporting rural development; farmers can’t survive when neighboring communities disappear.
More funding is needed to preserve farmlands, especially near urban areas where development pressures are great but wheremuch of our food is grown.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) accounts for two-thirds of Farm Bill funding. The House Republicans recently voted to gut food stamps because with the economy in such bad shape, spending has increased to help more households feed their families. The food stamp program, however, is supposed to be a safety net when families are out of work and/or unable to pay their bills.
Farmers face losses from record-breaking drought season
July 31, 2011 – Associated Press
Thousands of farmers are counting their losses amid record heat and drought this year.
The drought has spread over much of the southern U.S., leaving Oklahoma the driest it has been since the 1930s and setting records from Louisiana to New Mexico. But the situation is especially severe in Kansas and Texas, which trails only California in agricultural productivity.
Ranchers in parts of Kansas are hauling their spring cattle to auction barns because a drought and the brutal heat have made it difficult to provide the water and hay needed to keep the animals healthy, according to a state agency.
Some auction markets are seeing more than triple the number of cattle at weekly sales than they typically have at this time of year, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said. For example, 14,500 head of cattle were taken to sale rings at Pratt, Salina and Dodge City last week. Last year, those auction markets sold just 4,300 head.
NYC’s solar windfall a sign of clean energy future?
July 28, 2011 – Huffington Post
by John Farrell
A recently released solar map of New York City found enough room on building rooftops for solar panels to power half the city during hours of peak electricity use. Taking advantage of this solar windfall could allow New Yorkers to save millions on electricity costs and create tens of thousands of jobs.
New York City is not alone in its solar power potential.
Almost 60 million Americans live in areas where solar prices are competitive with retail electricity costs, but this opportunity is often kept out of reach by utilities and the antiquated rules of the U.S. electricity system.
Legislative riders target environmental protections
July 28, 2011 – Washington Post
by Darryl Fears & Juliet Eilperin
For environmentalists, it was something to shout about. In a rare show of defiance, 37 House Republicans broke party ranks two days ago and voted with Democrats to strike an amendment from an appropriations bill that forbade the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing any new plant or animal as endangered.
In telephone calls and e-mails, environmentalists at groups such as the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife called the vote “historic” and “awesome” in surprised reactions.
But a long list of other amendments aimed at weakening environmental protections at the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency brought them back to Earth.
Nearly 40 amendments would stop the enforcement of water quality standards, abolish rules that protect streams from surface mining, gut a budget to acquire and protect pristine forestland, and slice a portion of money used to operate national parks.