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We’ve liked the National Journal’s coverage of the net neutrality debate at the Federal Communications Commission. Go here for an explanation of what happened Tuesday when the commission voted 3-2 (Ds vs. Rs) to adopt new rules. 

The new rules “are designed to ensure that the Internet is not dominated by major telecommunications and cable companies,” writes David Hatch. “They prohibit anti-competitive blocking and degrading of competing online services and are enforceable by the agency.”

Republicans say the new rules are “an unnecessary government intrusion in the marketplace” and members in both chambers say they will try to block them. 

No report yet on whether these rules will have any special impact on rural communities.

•  Taylor Stuckert, in Clinton County, Ohio, describes what it will take to revitalize his community’s economy. He says that he and others have decided to take ownership of their county’s future:

“Whether it is expressed through green development, farmers’ markets, buy-local campaigns, or efforts to develop sustainably, there exists an underlying desire for independence, or ownership—ownership of our economy, our environment, and generations of culture and tradition. It cannot be overstated, however, that this ownership comes with a cost and with great responsibility. People must recognize that their presence in a community is more than just “living in another town;” it is a bridge connecting generations of understanding of a particular place.”

• Whole Foods Market says it will soon label its meat, rating it on various animal welfare measures. The five-step, color-coded labeling system will allow shoppers to pick meat in line with their principles, reports the Washington Post. 

The highest rating (5+), for example, “would go to a chicken that, among other things, had been bred, hatched and raised on a single farm, lived year-round on pasture with at least 75 percent vegetation and had legs that were healthy enough to support it by the time it reached market weight. And the lowest rating (1) would reflect adherence to several dozen baseline provisions about feed, antibiotics and treatment as well as a provision that the animal must not have been caged or crowded.”

• Creighton University’s Mainstreet Economy Index shows growth for the second month in a row. 

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said, “Very healthy farm income is rippling across the Rural Mainstreet economy.  Businesses heavily dependent on the farm economy continue to experience very strong economic conditions.” The index measures the rural economy across the Midwest and Great Plains.

Farmland prices soared, moving up for the 11th straight month. Farm equipment also rose.

“This month bankers were asked to name the biggest threat to the Rural Mainstreet economy for 2011.  Over one-third or 35 percent indicated that a bursting of the farmland price bubble was the number one threat to the economy for next year.   More than one in four or 27 percent of the bankers named low agricultural commodity prices as the number one risk for the Rural Mainstreet economy,” said Goss, the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton. 

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