You can have any kind of tea you want, as long as it's sweet. Welcome to the South. More specifically, welcome to St. John Parish in Fayette County, Texas.

[imgcontainer] [img:sweettea.jpg] [source]Daily Yonder[/source] You can have any kind of tea you want, as long as it’s sweet. Welcome to the South. More specifically, welcome to St. John Parish in Fayette County, Texas. [/imgcontainer]

The House Ag committee’s version of the Farm Bill lacks funding for rural development programs. 

This was a problem on the Senate side, too. (See Yonder story about that here.)  The Senate corrected this omission. Now the House lacks funding for rural development.

Rural development programs are “particularly for small-business development and beginning-farmer programs,” says Chuck Hassebrook with the Center for Rural Affairs. “(They) either receive zero funding or take deep cuts, so we believe it’s just essential that this Farm Bill do a better job of investing in our future.” 

The House bill cuts in half the funding for the beginning farmer/rancher program and it provides no funding for the micro-enterprise assistance program, which aids small rural businesses.

• The race for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri is running right through the rural parts of the state.

Missouri Republican Sarah Steelman has launched her “Flatbed Forum Tour” of rural communities. Steelman is facing two other Republicans in the Republican primary for the chance to run against Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Steelman’s ad campaign is aimed at rural Missouri voters, writes Jo Mannies.  In one ad, she accuses rival John Bruner as being an animal rights advocate from St. Louis.

Meanwhile, Sen. McCaskill is attacking Bruner for his non-stance on the Farm Bill. “John Brunner shamefully insists on hiding his opposition to the farm bill because he knows the devastating impact his extreme policies would have on rural Missourians and farm families,” said McCaskill spokesman Erik Dorey.

• The White House is holding a “rural economic forum” in Oxford, Mississippi Wednesday. The event begins at 8 a.m. Central and will be streamed live here

• Good story in Alaska Dispatch about a new movie theater in Bethel, Alaska. 

The theater is part of a new development by the Bthel Native Corporation that will include a new grocery and a two-screen theater, the first the town has had since the 1980s.

• The Kansas City Fed has some interesting maps showing delinquent mortgage payments by county in its 7-state district. Cities are broken down by zip code. See them here. 

• We can dispense with all the talk about independents in this coming election. There simply aren’t many.

A new Washington Post Poll finds that nine out of ten people have already made up their minds in the presidential contest and say they won’t be changing. That makes this election about turnout, not persuasion. 

• The unemployment rate nationally was 8.2 percent. But that’s misleading, according to the consulting firm Shadow Government Statistics. Including long term discouraged workers — those who would like to find work, but have given up looking — and the unemployment rate in June was 22.9 percent. 

• Much of the nation has been hit by drought and high temperatures, and that has degraded the quality of the corn crop, according to the USDA. 

• Sale barns are jammed, as cattle raisers thin their herds, DTN reports. High heat and no rain have ranchers running out of grass and looking to sell.

• Federal Communications Commission commissioners will go before a House panel this morning. The National Journal reports their appearance comes at a time when the House is showing interest in the FCC’s reforms of the Universal Service Fund. The Journal reports: 

The full Energy and Commerce Committee is taking a hard look at ongoing FCC efforts to reform the Universal Service Fund to include subsidies for broadband expansion and to lower the cost of USF payments made by consumers. Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., along with Technology and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., sent Genachowski a letter on Monday seeking information on USF disbursements, and information on “high-cost support” — the subsidies that aid telecommunications companies in providing phone services to consumers in remote and rural areas.

• Save The Post Office has a story about the timetable for when the Postal Service will begin reducing hours are (mostly) rural post offices. Expect this to begin happening the end of August. 

• The increase in the incidence of black lung is centered in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, according to an NPR report aired this morning. 

Black lung is the ailment that affects coal miners. Since congress first tried to control the disease in 1969, 70,000 miners have died. Howard Berkes reports how companies have bypassed the rules and how federal regulators have been lax in enforcing coal dust limits. 

In the first part of Berkes’ report, we learned that better mining equipment has mixed rock dust with coal dust, exacerbating the lung disease. 

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