[imgcontainer right] [img:img624.aurora_standalone.prod_affiliate.79.jpeg] [source]Lexington Herald-Leader[/source] The houseboat industry is down, so rural houseboat builders are now constructing affordable, energy-efficient houses. They were designed by students at the University of Kentucky and the transition from boatbuilding to housing is helped with a $1 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. [/imgcontainer]

A retired Purdue University scientist has warned USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that Monsanto’s Roundup may contribute to plant disease and health problems with farm animals, Reuters reports

Don Huber, a plant pathologist, wrote that a newly discovered “electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.” The pathogen appears to be connected to glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient. Huber has been a longtime critic of biotech crops, according to Reuters. 

The organism has been found in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn and that tests have found it in livestock that have had spontaneous abortions and infertility. He also said plants containing the organism were more susceptible to disease.

“I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status,” Huber wrote. “In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.”

Monsanto responded that no other study had found these kinds of problems with Roundup.

•There has been a cluster of houseboat building companies in southern Kentucky for decades. They first built boards for the lakes there and in Tennessee, but soon were building boats that were shipped around the world. 

This was a remarkable rural development achievement, one long ignored by economic development officials in the Commonwealth. Recently, however, tough economic times have hit luxury good, such as houseboats and a whole group of rural businesses were hurting.

A cooperative effort is reviving the industry. Led by Kentucky Highlands Investment Co., a non profit development firm, the companies are now expanding into land-based housing. University of Kentucky architecture students helped design a low-energy (a dollar a day for heating and cooling) and very low cost house (under $100,000) that the companies can now build. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader tells this great rural development story. 

• The California Senate voted Thursday to require California utilities to increase their use of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.,) to a third of their total supply by 2020. The House is expected to agree.

The California Public Utilities Commission said energy costs would go up 7.1% under this requirement. Building new transmission lines from rural energy producing locations to cities will cost $115 billion.

• USDA’s chief economist said farmers and ranchers can expect high crop prices to remain for at least two more years, according to AgriPulse. 

Is this a signal that things are getting ready to head South immediately??

• The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is funding a campaign aimed at convincing everyone that fishing and oil production can live in harmony. One reporter from Detroit was told that if he took a trip on a state-funded fishing boat his story would have to say that oil production was beneficial to the fishing business

• Every Democrat in the U.S. Senate is more liberal than every Republican. And every Republican is more conservative than every Democrat.

There is no overlap in the parties, according to the National Journal

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