[imgcontainer right] [img:GOATS-1-popup.jpeg] [source]The New York Times[/source] The New York Times reports that Los Angeles is using goats to clear brush around town. Good for them. [/imgcontainer]

We are about to get into an old fight about tracking animals. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish proposed rules Thursday establishing a system to track livestock moving across state lines. The purpose of the new Animal Disease Traceability system is to quickly track the source of any outbreak of disease. 

An earlier effort to tag and track livestock, the National Animal Identification System, produced a near revolt in rural America. This new system is mandatory, but is receiving mixed reviews from farm groups, compared to the unanimous opposition inspired by NAIS.

The proposed rule would be administered by states and tribes. It would also encourage the use of low technology systems, such as hot-iron brands, as opposed to the computer chips proposed under NAIS.

“National Farmers Union policy supports USDA’s action to leave animal identification for disease management to the states,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We encourage USDA to move this rule through the full rulemaking and implementation process quickly.”

R-CALF USA, however, quickly issued a statement condemning the proposed rule.  R-CALF’s primary objection was based on a belief that the new rule excluded hot-iron brands as identification. The rule, however, included hot-iron brands and R-CALF later issued a clarification of its objections. 

A description of the plan can be found here

• DTN’s Chris Clayton speculates on what ag will likely lose in upcoming federal budget cuts. Think ethanol and direct payments. 

• Still a lot of discussion about the closing of rural post offices. Rep. Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, decided to see the system up close, so he followed mail carrier Tim Thomason on his rural route, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports.

“I deliver to one of the most rural areas of Mercer County,” Thomason told the paper. “That includes Petry, Elgood, Cheesy Cheek, Hatcher Hollow. I drive about 90 miles a day to deliver to over 500 boxes. Just to drive the route with no mail is over three hours. With mail, depending on the mail, with parcels and certifieds, five to six hours.” 

• The number of West Virginians receiving food stamps has increased 1.6 percent from May 2010 to May of this year. Over 345,000 people in the state, or one in five West Virginians, receive food stamps. 

• Why not? Los Angeles is using goats to clear roadside areas

• California regulators are raising concerns about how the AT&T/T-Mobile merger could affect rural customers. The state’s Public Utilities Commission has held seven public discussions of the deal, according to Bloomberg, in what is considered an unusually thorough review of a merger by a state. 

Bloomberg reports on the work of California PUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval:

Though Sandoval hasn’t said how she will vote on AT&T’s proposal and is just one of five commissioners, she’s taken the lead in public hearings and has prodded deep into the details of how a merger will affect different customers in the state. She’s asked about rural customers, who tend to have fewer choices than those in urban centers, and Fortune 500 companies, which often buy only from wireless carriers with national coverage.

• Not a good sign: California state revenues missed budget by $539 million in July. Automatic cuts to education could begin kicking in soon. 

The state had been counting on a national economic recovery to help balance budgets. Those hopes are fading.

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