[imgcontainer right] [img:farmersmarkets.gif] [source]Economic Research Service[/source] In 2009 there were 5,240 farmers’ markets in the U.S. About a third of the country’s 3,141 counties had no markets. Urban counties had the most farmers’ markets, but the density of markets (markets per person) was highest in rural counties. This map shows the density of markets. The darker the blue, the more markets per person. [/imgcontainer]

The air continues to escape from the nation’s thoroughbred industry.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that betting on thoroughbred horse racing was down by 10 percent in March. This year, wagering is off by 8.5 percent, or $230 million, compared to the year before. 

• This is the one year anniversary of the mine explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men. 

Massey board chair Admiral Bobby Ray Inman told the Wall Street Journal that the explosion was a “natural disaster” that was not caused by anything the company did or didn’t do. Last week, Inman appeared on a panel at the University of Texas about “crisis management” and “corporate responsibility.” 

Meanwhile, NPR’s Howard Berkes reports that up to nine hours after the explosion Massey did not know who exactly was working in the mine at the time of the blast. “You mean to tell me that in today’s age, where computers can tell you within seconds the level of production off a longwall and where that coal is moving along the conveyor belt, we can’t keep track of people? That’s unacceptable,” said former federal mine safety official Davitt McAteer. 

And Ken Ward Jr. at the Charleston Gazette reports that a year after the disaster there has been little done to change the working conditions for miners. There will be lots of talk today, Ward says, but talk is about all that’s happened in Congress over the last year. Ward: 

When you listen to the news or watch tonight’s memorial service, listen closely. See if a politician talks about how we need to remember that coal mining is dangerous work or if they say there’s just no excuse for someone getting killed just for coming to work in the morning.

• Not many days you get a pro bat editorial, but there was one in the New York Times this morning. 

There was a study reported in Science magazine that told how important bats are to agriculture. Bats eat lots of insects each day and if bats weren’t around farmers would have to significantly increase their use of pesticides. The researchers estimate that bats reduce the amount of farm pesticides by about $22.9 billion a year.

Unfortunately, bats are in trouble. Colonies are being decimated by a fungal disease, white-nose syndrome. The Times is saying we should spend what needs to be spent to find a way to prevent our bat friends from dying. 

• The White House Monday threatened to veto any bill that would “scuttle Internet fairness rules,” reports the National Journal

The House Rules Committee voted Monday to send a resolution to the floor that would call for repeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s “network-neutrality” regulations. These were designed to prevent carriers from treating web sites differently based on their use of bandwidth.

“If the president is presented with a resolution of disapproval that would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the resolution,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a Statement of Administration Policy.

Cool map here showing “food insecurity rates” by county. 

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