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DTN’s Chris Clayton tells us that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says he “anticipates there are going to be thousands of people” in Fort Collins next. Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder will be in town August 27th to take testimony on antitrust violations in the beef industry. Some cattle groups are trying to get 25,000 people there in what they say will be “the most important day in the history of the U.S. cattle industry and in rural America.” 

• The New York Times visits with Mott’s apple juice workers in Williamson, New York. Over 300 hourly workers at the plant have been on strike for the past three months (above) after Mott’s asked that they take a $1.50 an hour pay cut. The company (owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group) says the workers make too much. 

“The union movement and many outsiders view the strike as a high-stakes confrontation between a company that wants to cut its labor costs, even as it is earning record profits, and workers who are determined to resist demands for wage and benefit givebacks,” writes reporter Steven Greenhouse.

•  Suicide rates are higher in rural America than the cities. But why? “Country by country, state by state, the top areas in terms of suicide are rural,” Dr. James Werth told a convention of psychologists. “The top five states are Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nevada, whereas D.C., New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have the lowest rates.”

Dr. Werth says the higher rural rate is due to more poverty and isolation. One solution is broadband, Werth said, because it increases rural people’s access to mental health resources. 

• A report here from the Sustainable Agriculture Partnerships conference last week in San Francisco. 

Congratulations to Minnesota and Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports that Minnesota’s high school seniors had the nation’s highest average ACT scores. Iowa’s students ranked second. 

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