[imgcontainer right] [img:joel-pett-jan-30.jpeg] [source]Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader[/source] The argument in the coalfields is that current coal strip mining practices must be allowed in order to save jobs. But Joel Pett argues that this point of view has its limits. [/imgcontainer]

The Daily Yonder 40 stock index rose last week while the other major indices fell.

The 40 stocks that do a good deal of their business in rural America — regional banks, Cabella’s, coal companies, food producers, John Deere — rose about 2.5 percent last week while the Dow, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ all slipped.

The biggest gainer was Bassett Furniture, the Virginia furniture maker. The company reported sales were up 11 percent in the quarter ending in late November.

•Texans are opposed to an oil pipeline. That’s not supposed to happen!

It has, however, as rural Texans are fighting a pipeline that will carry heavy oil from the tar sands of Canada 1,700 miles crossing the piney woods of East Texas before arriving at the refineries on the Texas coast. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Warnings that the pipeline could worsen the state’s already potent refinery emissions and threaten water supplies have riled up people not normally inclined to cotton to environmentalists; TransCanada’s (the company building the pipeline) heavy-handed approach to obtaining easements through rural property — a mix of dickering and threats of eminent domain — has populated the Sierra Club’s recent meetings with rural residents in denim shirts and silver belt buckles whose political inclinations lean more toward the ‘tea party’ movement than eco-activism.

• More stories on the rise of food prices.

Reuters reports “no quick relief for nations bedeviled by record high food costs that have stoked civil unrest.” 

And The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk to a size not seen since 1958. That will press beef prices higher. 

The Journal reports that the “recession appears to have further accelerated the situation as cattle producers—mostly family operations with fewer than 50 head—tap their herds for cash to make up for a lost job, drop in retirement savings or other immediate needs.”

• Speaking of cattle, the Rapid City Journal has a story on the “biggest change coming at ranchers from Washington, D.C.,” which is new rules governing livestock sales proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

The paper finds a split among South Dakota ranchers. The South Dakota Stockgrowers favor the regulations, which are meant to restore competition to the livestock markets. The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association said the GIPSA rules are “going to be bad for the cattle industry.”

Bill Turner, who teaches at Berea College in Kentucky, wrote Sunday about the threat to coal camps by large strip mines proposed in the Black Mountain area of the state. 

Turner took Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and re-worked it for the mountains:

And when this happens, when the piercing sounds of strip mining are hushed, may the people in every village and every hamlet and every town, in every extraction zone — places like Lynch and Benham — join hands and sing together the words of a New Mountain hymn, “Our Mountain is free of strip mining!” Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, our mountains are free of strip mining — at last!”

• Finally on the coal front, Alpha Natural Resources has agreed to buy Massey Energy for about $7.1 billion in cash and stock. Massey owned the West Virginia mine that exploded last April, killing 29 miners. 

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