YouTube video

Most lists of the best Super Bowl commercials contain the one above, an ad for Dodge Ram trucks.

The commercial is a long excerpt from a speech radio broadcaster Paul Harvey made for a Future Farmers of America convention in 1978. It’s his “So God Made a Farmer” talk. In the commercial, you only see the truck at the end.

David Haglund at Slate points out that this ad was a near replica of one made by in 2011, a YouTube sensation that garnered more than a million views. See it here.  

Andrea Reiher at didn’t like the ad so much: 

It wasn’t a Paul Harvey farmer ad. It was an advertisement for Ram pickups, but all anyone can talk about was how beautiful it was and God bless farmers. Too bad that way of life hardly exists anymore. And too bad that the ad was for a friggin’ truck. 

We saw it with a bunch of hip filmmakers here in Austin. They had comments about everything else during the evening, but during this ad, there was dead silence. Maybe it was Harvey’s talk about “God” (a forbidden topic in many areas) or the extolling of virtues that hip culture mostly makes fun of, but people didn’t know how to react.

The silence was blessed, so thanks, Paul Harvey, at least for that.

Ethanol Plant Closes — An ethanol plant in Hastings, Nebraska, will close, saying low ethanol prices and ongoing drought (and higher corn prices) led to the shutdown. 

A Federal Diet — The Washington Post tells us how the USDA cafeteria is changing — doing away with the deep fryers and salt. 

Solar Land Rush — Productive farmland is being bought up by developers putting in solar and wind production. 

The AP reports that in California, where the state is mandating that a third of electricity be generated by renewables by the end of the decade, there are 227 proposed solar projects now in some stage of development. And all that requires land.

“Developers are flocking to flat farmland near power transmission lines, but agriculture interests, environmental groups and even the state are concerned that there is no official accounting of how much of this important agricultural region’s farmland is being taken out of production,” the AP reports.

“”We’ve been trying to get a handle on the extent of this for quite a while now,” said Ed Thompson of American Farmland Trust, which monitors how much of the nation’s farmland is absorbed by development.

Main Street Projects Are Working — Iowa columnist Kyle Munson reviews 26 years of work on the Main Street Iowa program and concludes it’s working. 

There are 49 Iowa cities in the Main Street program. The program claims to have created 11,000 net new jobs, 3,800 new businesses and $1.2 billion in new investment. (Believe all such statistics at your own risk.) The study Munson writes about, however, finds general success in the towns that have initiated Main Street projects.

Smallest Herd in 61 Years — The nation’s cattle herd shrank again in 2012 to reach the lowest levels in 61 years, according to the USDA. 

Ranchers have been shedding cattle in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas due to the drought and the high cost of feed.

Missouri Vs. Kansas — It appears that Missouri and Kansas are vying with each other to see which state can cut taxes the most in order to provide the best “business climate.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page notes that there is little evidence that business tax rates determine a state’s economic performance. “Factors like the cost and quality of the workforce, proximity to customers, transportation infrastructure and access to suppliers are more critical,” the paper writes.

Good description of the race between the two states to cut the size of government, and what that will mean. 

Idaho’s Roads — Curtis Tate and Greg Gordon report that “Idaho faces a nearly half-billion-dollar annual shortfall to maintain and improve its roadways, with no plan in place to generate the needed revenue.” They add in the Idaho Statesman that “the Gem State is not alone in its transportation funding crisis.” 

States all over the country don’t have the money to keep up their roads. Texas is $170 billion short. California needs $70 billion for repairs. They write:

Like the Roman Empire, “civilizations fall because they don’t maintain their infrastructure,” said David Burwell, the director of the climate and energy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “Everybody likes to build things, but nobody likes to maintain them,” he said.

Sequester and the National Parks — A memo outlines what sequestration (set to begin March 1) could mean for the national park system. 

The national parks will need to cut $110 million from a $2.2 billion budget over the next seven months, if automatic cutbacks go into effect. That will result in shortened seasons and limited hours of operation in the nearly 400 national park sites across the country.

Colorado and Energy Leasing — The New York Times reports on how President Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy is playing out in Colorado, where communities are nervous about plans to lease over a hundred thousand acres of federal land for energy development. 

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