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Farm Bill Goes to House – Monday the Senate voted to approve its version of the farm bill, setting up a major debate in the House that will decide the bill’s future. Increased GOP support in the Senate bodes well for farm bill supporters, as 18 Republicans joined Democrats in its passage. However, there are still hurdles, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is staunchly opposed to a new milk- supply management proposal in both the House and Senate bills.
The Senate’s version of the bill will cost $955 over 10 years. It increases payments for crop insurance slightly while cutting payments for commodity support, nutrition and conservation. The House version is likely to seek larger cuts in the nutrition program, especially. The Washington Post has a helpful graphic comparing the drafts of the two chambers’ bills (before floor amendments in the Senate).
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democrat from Vermont, successfully amended the bill to establish a pilot program to test 1 gigabit broadband networks in up to five rural communities. The program would be managed through USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and would invest in ultra-high speed Internet projects over the next five years.
Coal and Famine – Recent research conducted by the University of Washington says that the US and Europe may have indirectly caused a famine that ravaged North Africa’s Sahel region. The famine, which lasted from the mid 1960’s to the early 1980’s, claimed more than 100,000 lives and left 750,000 on food aid. Originally the famine was thought to have been caused by poor land management and overgrazing. Researchers now say that air pollution from the Northern Hemisphere indirectly caused reduced rainfall in the region, drying up Lake Chad and causing crops to fail.
The study places much of the blame on burning coal, which produces sulfate aerosols, particles that create hazy air and reflective clouds that cool the climate around them. “To some extent, science messed this one up the first time around,” said Dargan Frierson, the study’s co-author and UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences.
Domestic Hunger – Feed America has issued its annual report entitled Map the Meal Gap for 2013, which shows child hunger concentrated in rural areas. While the study shows the country’s biggest cities have the largest raw numbers of food-insecure children, children in rural communities are more likely to be without steady access to food. Also, the study found rural areas make up nearly two-thirds of counties with high rates of child food insecurity, despite only accounting for 43% of America’s counties.
For a visual of the area most affected by food insecurity, click here.
Warning: Reading This Story May Cause Weight Gain– California’s citizens have a reputation for embracing a nutritious diet and living a healthier lifestyle than most of America. A single day at the San Diego County Fair may have wiped that out. Chicken Charlie’s debuted the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe last Saturday in San Diego, and yes, the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe is exactly what it sound like. The “sandwich” is slated to appear at two more county fairs in the coming month and may conquer additional county fairs after that.