[imgcontainer right] [img:AgLandValueChapter.jpeg] [source]ERS[/source] Earlier this week, Dr. Wayne Myers wrote that soaring land prices could bring on the next bust — and the next farm crisis. The Economic Research Service sent out this chart today showing the rapid increase in farm land costs. [/imgcontainer]

The Council on Foundations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have signed a “memorandum of understanding.” Big deal, you say. Well, we don’t know one way or another.

The MOU (memorandum of understanding) establishes what the Council calls a “cooperative framework” aimed at “creating new sources of rural wealth to improve the quality of life of rural Americans; identifying community assets that can be used to produce new economic opportunities; promoting new partnerships in workforce investment strategies; and developing innovative, effective and sustainable methods of collaborating to benefit rural communities.” 

The MOU came about after USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to the Council (a trade group for foundations) about ways foundations can help spur the rural economy.

What is going to happen because of the MOU? The Council says that the memorandum “promotes joint activities between the Council and the USDA, including meetings, webinars and teleconferences, and joint convenings to advance common work.”

Does anyone out there have thoughts on what this might mean? Is there a webinar shortage we were unaware of?

• For the record, scientists estimate there are 8.7 million different species of critters on this earth. 

• Here’s an idea: The Postal Service could save money if it slowed down mail delivery.

Yes, a study found that USPS could save $1.5 billion a year if it relaxed its two to three day delivery limit for first class mail. 

• The Midwest and Plains have been spared the worst of the housing crisis, but the recession is still doing harm. The Des Moines Register reports that the number of homeowners in Iowa who are at least one payment behind rose three-quarters of one percent in the second quarter, to 5.83 percent. 

“The sustained lack of a positive recovery eventually is getting to those people,” said Dan Vessely, president of the Iowa Bankers Mortgage Corp. “A lot of people have stayed current for as long as they could.”

• The first doctor in Kansas, and perhaps the country, to be federally certified for using electronic health records can be found in Plainville, Kansas. Her name is Dr. Jen Brull. 

[imgcontainer left] [img:calvin_howard_burning_well.png] [source]Facing South[/source] Calvin Howard and his flaming water well. [/imgcontainer]

• It’s hard for many of us to believe the hassles of living in mining/drilling country.

Take the case of the flaming water well in Pike County, Kentucky, reported by Facing South. Calvin and Denise Howard, on Big Branch Road, say their water runs orange and black, and it burns their skin after a mining company did work in the area. Also, the water well catches fire, shooting flames more than a foot in the air. (See photo on page one.) 

The problem began after the Howards heard explosions under their house in May. The water turned and the well caught fire, burning down the well house.

The company offered to install a filtration system, but only if the Howards signed a liability waiver. The Howards filed suit.

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