Editors Note: You may recall that the Ohio Farmers Union opposed the drastic cut to the budget of the Ohio Consumers Council (OCC) called for in Gov. John Kasich’s last budget and essentially rubber-stamped by the Ohio General Assembly. Whether it’s an institutional bias or just the bias of those serving on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the PUCO does not have consumer interests at heart. The commissioners are political appointees and the politicians who appoint them garner lots of campaign contributions from American Electric Power and other utilities. It’s no surprise that only roughly 10% of what the Ohio Supreme Court found to have been overcharged by AEP will actually find its way back to the consumers who were cheated. Would a stronger OCC have made a difference. That’s hard to say, but your elected officials in Columbus have done their best to ensure that your consumer advocate is in a weakened position moving forward.
AEP owes you $12 or $30
The state’s utility consumer advocate does not think the PUCO went far enough in its decision yesterday.
“The PUCO failed to fully protect the public interest by allowing AEP to keep part of the costs ruled unjustified by the court,” said Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander in a statement.
Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, shares the same concerns.
“Ensuring revenue stability to the company is apparently more important public policy than giving a fair shake to customers,” he said. …
Tracing food from farm to table a complex task
WASHINGTON — The recent listeria outbreak carried in cantaloupe shows that large-scale occurrences of serious illnesses linked to tainted food have grown more common over the years, partly because much of what we eat takes a long and winding road from farm to fork.
A cantaloupe grown on a Colorado field might make four or five stops before it reaches the dinner table.
There’s the packing house where it is cleaned and packaged, then the distributor who contracts with retailers to sell the melons in large quantities. A processor might cut or bag the fruit. The retail distribution center is where the melons are sent out to various stores. Finally, it’s stacked on display at the grocery store.
Imported fruits and vegetables, which make up almost two-thirds of the produce consumed in the United States, have an even longer journey.
Oh, deer! They’re a traffic risk
The Columbus Dispatch
Drivers, beware: As October begins, so does the season of greatest risk for colliding with deer.
The risk is greater during the October-January mating season, when bucks and does are on the run and sometimes scamper across an interstate, a state route or a country road.
Reported deer-vehicle crashes last year totaled 23,201 statewide, a 7.7 percent decline from the 25,146 crashes reported in 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. There were 24,590 deer-vehicle crashes reported in 2008.
It’s unclear why the number of crashes reported to local and state law-enforcement agencies dropped last year, said Mary Bonelli, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Insurance Institute. It could be that people are dealing with higher gas prices by driving less, consolidating errands into one trip rather than several. Fewer drives mean fewer chances for deer-vehicle crashes, Bonelli suggested.
Ag Committee chair address Farm Bill
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says the Senate Agriculture committee is coalescing around a safety net structure for the 2012 Farm Bill that contains revenue protection and expanded federal crop insurance, but does not include the direct and counter-cyclical payment programs.
“It’s very clear as we look at what’s happening with the commodity groups, the proposals coming forward, the proposals within the committee from respected members of the committee that we are moving in a similar direction as it relates to a risk management program and a safety net,” Stabenow said.
She specifically welcomed the ADAP and STAX revenue-based safety net ideas championed by the National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council, respectively, and labeled as thoughtful two Senate proposals to build on changes in the current ACRE program.
“Those are very important pieces of work that colleagues on the committee are coming forward with,” Stabenow said. “We are sitting down working with all of them to see where we might come to an agreement.”
U.S. corn crop harvest behind 5-year average
The U.S. corn harvest was 21 percent complete as of yesterday, compared with 15 percent a week earlier and the previous five-year average of 23 percent, the Department of Agriculture said.
An estimated 19 percent of the soybean crop was harvested, up from 5 percent a week earlier and less than the five-year average of 25 percent for the date, the USDA said today in report.