A portion of the 130,000 acres of farm land flooded after levees were blown by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The land was flooded to reduce pressure on levees protecting Cairo, Illinois.

[imgcontainer] [img:5687017896_48004d1a4f_b.jpg] [source]Jeff Roberson/AP[/source] A portion of the 130,000 acres of farm land flooded after levees were blown by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The land was flooded to reduce pressure on levees protecting Cairo, Illinois. [/imgcontainer]

Some of the largest foundations in the country have funded a group that aims to “solve long-term national and international food and agriculture policy issues,” according to Food Safety News

Foundations bearing the names of some of the country’s richest men — Gates, Ford, Rockefeller, Hewlett, Kellogg and Walton — have put money into a group call AGree.  AGree is headed by four people who come out of the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They note that the world’s population will increase by 2.6 billion over the next 40 years at a time when nearly one billion people are already without sufficient food.

The group announced that it was “uniquely qualified” to find solutions. It will begin by convening a larger group of people in the ag sector. “AGree will fill a crucial void in current agriculture research and discussions that frequently do not consider solutions across multiple sectors such as environment, energy, rural economies and health,” the group stated.

• Don Henley, mainstay of The Eagles, caught his first fish at Caddo Lake in East Texas — and he has repaid the favor, spending millions of dollars to help protect the place he calls his church. 

The AP’s Lee Hancock reports:

It’s his baseball cap that hints Don Henley isn’t a typical lake rat. Instead of faded camouflage, the hat is navy blue, its “LIFEGUARD” logo and Red-Cross emblem framed with: “Off Duty: Save Yourself.”

The East Texas native has spent nearly 20 years and millions of dollars helping Caddo Lake residents learn to do just that — to band together, arm themselves with scientific data and go to court and Congress to protect the place that the famed rock musician calls his church.

They’ve succeeded so far. The lake where Henley caught his first fish as a young boy from neighboring Linden is a world-renowned wetland laboratory, thanks to Henley’s Caddo Lake Institute.

• The AP reminds us that Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which was to be the nation’s dump for nuclear waste has been “shuttered with no chance of reopening.” 

Republicans in states with active nuclear power projects (Texas, Illinois, South Carolina and Mississippi) want to see waste moved to Nevada. The White House and the Senate (with Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada) say no way.

• A Cornell University plant scientist believes the country can develop perennial varieties of corn, wheat, rice and other crops. And Ed Buckler believes that perennials can get to the yields found today in central Iowa. 

“With prior technology, it would have taken 100-plus years,” Buckler told Philip Brasher. “Now, I think we can do it in 20 years with a concerted effort.”

Brownfield wonders if there will be enough water to feed the world.

A University of Nebraska agronomy scientist says there will be — but that research on growing more crops with less water must intensify. Mostly, the two issues — increasing yields and using less water — must be studied in tandem. 

“There’s no large effort of research focused on that issue, said Ken Cassman. “We need a massive state, national and global effort with the purpose—focused tightly—how are we going to double yields and reduce the water footprint of agriculture, and the university, the state, the nation that can do that is going to be a world leader in global food security.” 

• The New York Times reports that farmers are returning to the use of draft animals. The story, by Tess Taylor, presents not one iota of evidence that this is, in fact, a widespread trend. (Do you see many of your neighbors selling the John Deere and buying oxen?)

The story, however, was the fourth most emailed story at the newspaper Wednesday at noon. 

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