[imgcontainer right] [img:NOAA_Flood.jpeg] [source] The likelihood of spring flooding is widespread across the Midwest and through the Northeast, according to the federal weather service. [/imgcontainer]

Two generations ago, divorce rates in rural America were noticeably lower than divorce rates in cities. Today, they are the same. (See a chart on the jump page.) 

Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff of the New York Times report this morning that rural families have “caught up” with urban styles. “Rural families are going through this incredible transformation,” said Daniel T. Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University.

One reason for the shift is education. People with college degrees are more likely to get — and stay — married than those with only a high school diploma. Rural areas have lost ground to cities in terms of education and so rural divorce rates have risen. 

The story finds that the decline of middle class living standards is one of the reasons for the rise of rural divorce rates. 

• Is the Environmental Protection Agency itching to regulate every aspect of life on the farm?

[imgcontainer left] [img:24divorce-graphic-popup-v2.jpeg] [source]New York Times[/source] [/imgcontainer]

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently testified in Congress, telling legislators most stories about impending government regulations were “mischaracterizations.” Daryll Ray and Harwood Schaffer report

•The Washington Post has a review of the battle between organic and genetically engineered seeds that has been taking place in the Ag Department over the past year or so. 

The Post finds that in recent weeks “the administration has announced a trio of decisions that have clouded the future of organics and boosted the position of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Vilsack approved genetically modified alfalfa and a modified corn to be made into ethanol, and he gave limited approval to GE sugar beets.”

The GE crowd applauded, according to the Post, while the organic folks were “furious.” 

• The Maryland House of Delegates voted to restrict natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region for two years while a study is completed on the environmental effects of the exploration. 

The use of hydraulic fracturing to extract gas from the Marcellus formation may be the cause of environmental damage. The federal EPA is now studying the issue also. 

• A large swath of the U.S. runs the risk of flooding this spring. Map is above. 

• The Food and Drug Administration is banning imports of milk and fresh fruit and vegetables from the area near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

• Miachael Tortorello writes about heirloomism, the belief that growers should plant only old varieties of “open pollinated” seeds. 

Tortorello describes the nearly religious nature of the attachment (among some) to heirloom seeds. New and younger gardeners want nothing but heirlooms.

The result, according to Burpee’s chief executive officer, George Ball, is a new faith: “Today, greener-than-thou gardeners crusade for heirloom seeds while unjustly condemning hybrids. Increasingly, their anti-science credo has hardened into a Luddite fundamentalism.” 

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