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[imgcontainer right] [img:oswald-irrigator.jpg] [source]Richard Oswald[/source] This is Richard Oswald’s farm in the Missouri River Valley. It’s a grain farm, not a catfish farm, however. Members of Congress and several governors are questioning how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the flow in the river this spring. [/imgcontainer]
To the right you can see Richard Oswald’s farm. We’ve been following the flood through the eyes of Richard, the author of the Daily Yonder’s Letter From Langdon. This is the way the farm looks this week.
His house is the one on the bottom. FYI, Richard didn’t build his farm house on an island. The water is from a flooding Missouri River — and the water is expected to stay in his fields for the rest of the summer.
Farmers in the Missouri River Valley think the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did a lousy job of managing the river. On Monday, Congress began questioning the Corps about the debacle that surrounds Richard’s farm and many others.
Members of Congress talked about requiring the Corps to conduct a new study of why flooding was so bad this year. That proposal failed, as Congress appears to favor what Todd Neeley at DTN calls a “wholesale review of the Corps’ master manual,” the document that governs how the river is to be managed.
Neeley provides a very good review of what led up to this year’s massive flooding, floods that have covered more than 2.5 million acres of crops.
Neeley quotes retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, who headed a task force in 1994 that looked into the causes of the 1993 flood on the Missouri. Galloway was speaking on KFAB radio in Omaha last week:
If I were to say one thing today, the most important thing to recognize is there is no single solution that is going to give you the answer to flood problems. No matter what you build, there is always the possibility of a higher, bigger flood that is going to come down the river. We said that in the ’94 report. Don’t think that the ’93 flood was going to be the last big flood.
• Christine Varney is leaving the Department of Justice, where she led the antitrust division and its investigation into the business of agriculture. She told DTN’s Jerry Hagstrom that this work would continue.
She also told Hagstrom that, in the investigation, Justice and Department of Agriculture officials learned that there are “significant problems in agriculture that can’t be solved through the anti-trust laws.”
• The House Appropriations Committee would cut the budget for the Census Bureau by 25 percent.
The agency is already closing half of its regional offices. The Census says that if its budget is cut by a fourth, it will have to cancel the Economic Survey set for next year. That survey is used to calculate the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
There would also be cuts in the American Community Survey, which is the primary way the country understands how it is changing — particularly in rural America.
• Another player in AT&T’s bid to buy T-Mobile is the Communications Workers of America. The union is behind the merger because it will give the organization new members.
Consumer groups oppose the merger, saying it will reduce competition in the wireless realm and lead eventually to higher prices.
The CWA is enlisting rural America in this fight (as others have done, too). CWA chief Larry Cohen testified that the combined resources of AT&T and T-Mobile would bring high-speed Internet to rural areas more quickly.
• Redistricting always brings up the question of where inmates should be counted as residents — the prison in which they are housed (often in a rural area) or the city where they lived before becoming wards of the state.
The argument is going full bore in California, according to the L.A. Times. A Los Angeles Assemblyman has introduced legislation that would count prisoners as residents of their home towns, not the location of the prison.
• The government has been buying out landowners in the floodplain of the Missouri River since 1993, the last time the river ripped and roared over its banks. No state has had more buyouts than Missouri.
Now the river has flooded again — higher this time — and there are new talk about buyouts.
• Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia signed an executive order yesterday that will allow the state to issue emergency regulations governing the use of hydraulic fracturing in gas drilling operations.
Landowners saying the technique — which forces a mixture of water and chemicals into the ground to force out natural gas — can ruin water supplies and taint streams.