There have been all kinds of reports recently about Wall Street finding farmland to be a good investment. Money has been pouring in and land prices have been rising.
Where Wall Street treads, can disaster be far behind?
Apparently not. Brownfield reports that Federal Deposit and Insurance Corp. chair Sheila Bair is saying farmland values are reaching the bubble stage and that a sharp decline in values could harm 1,600 farm banks. Remember the ’80s?
• Kate Galbraith reports in the Texas Tribune that heavy truck traffic, some related to the energy industry, is pounding rural roads.
The number of super-heavy truck permits issued in Texas (to trucks over a quarter of a million pounds) increased from 208 in 2005 to 1,525 in 2009. This is the time when there was an increase in oil and gas drilling, energy construction and wind energy production. In February, for example, a 1.7 million pound load (yes, a record) took a generator from Houston to a coal plant in Riesel.
Heavier loads means more road damage. In particular, the roads in the area where there has been increased drilling in the Barnett Shale have needed more attention. And in West Texas, officials have noticed more damage to roads used to transport wind energy equipment.
• West Virginia’s broadband deployment plan is a disaster, according to critics. And now the West Virginia Commerce Secretary has canceled meetings of the state Broadband Deployment Council. One member of the council is asking that a $126 million federal stimulus grant for broadband deployment be suspended.
Three out of the last four meetings of the council have been cancelled, according to the Charleston Gazette.
• You can’t keep Iowans down.
The 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll finds some uncertainty, writes Lynda Waddington in the Iowa Independent, but still 83 percent of the rural Iowans interviewed said that their quality of life had remained the same or improved in the last five years.
Not bad for the worst recession since the 1930s.