[imgcontainer] [img:tNu2k.AuSt_.79.jpeg] [source]Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader[/source] Kentucky cartoonist Joel Pett on news that America wastes a good deal of the food we grow. [/imgcontainer]

The Postal Regulatory Commission has backed the Postal Service’s plan to cut hours at roughly 13,000 rural post offices. 

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says cutting service to rural areas would save $500 million a year. No hours are to be cut until after Labor Day. 

Cutting hours is a retreat from the Postal Service’s earlier plan, which was to close up to 3,700 post offices. 

“Given the difficult financial reality facing the Postal Service, I am relieved that the Postal Regulatory Commission has approved the Postal Service’s initial cost-cutting measures,” Sen Tom Carper, D-Del., said in a statement, adding that he is “grateful” that the panel acted expeditiously.

“I will be carefully reviewing the recommendations offered by the commissioners and plan to closely monitor the Postal Service’s implementation of its plan to ensure that it’s done appropriately,” Carper, who heads the Senate subcommittee with responsibility for the mail carrier, continued. “That being said, the hard truth is that cost-saving efforts of this scale are not enough on their own to fundamentally fix the Postal Service’s financial problems. ”

A Rural Emmy? — The documentary that follows three young men from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from high school to Afghanistan and back again has been nominated for an Emmy Award. 

Where Soldiers Come From follows kids who graduate from high school in Houghton, Michigan, and then join the Army Reserves. Heather Courtney made the movie and she is from Houghton. You can get a taste of the movie here

“I wanted to make a film about rural America,” Courtney told The Mining Journal in 2011. “Rural America is not represented very accurately in mainstream media. So I went back to my hometown to tell a story about rural America.”

“Where Soldiers Come From” is nominated in the Outstanding Continuing Coverage Of A News Story– Long Form category. It is to appear again on the POV series on PBS, September 7.

Romney in Hobbs — Republican candidate Mitt Romney talked to a crowd of 400 in the back lot of Watson Truck and Supply Thursday, a Hobbs, New Mexico, firm that serves the oil and gas industry, reports the Albuquerque Journal. 

Romney talked energy.

“Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet. That’s oil and gas and coal, and we’re going to make it happen. We’re going to create those jobs,” Romney said the federal government took too long to okay permits for oil and gas drilling on public land.

“What Mitt Romney outlined (in Hobbs) was not a recipe for energy independence,” said Stephanie Cutter, Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager. “It’s just the same old scheme to help line the pockets of Big Oil.”

Food Safety in Slow Motion — The 140 or more cases of salmonella infection, and two deaths, from Indiana cantaloupes “potentially could have been prevented had the Obama administration moved in a timely fashion to implement broad food safety legislation signed into law in January 2011,” the Denver Post writes

Not only are people getting sick, the Post notes, but growers of safe melons could be harmed. Meanwhile, food safety rules still haven’t been finished as the Office of Management and Budget is taking its time reviewing and revising rules drafted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Postal Discount to Big Business — The Postal Regulatory Commission has supported a deal that would give discounted rates to a huge direct mail firm. 

The Postal Service is giving Valassis a three year discount on direct mail, a decision that is driving local newspapers crazy. You’ll notice that a major revenue source for rural newspapers is the inserts that come with each edition. The newspaper industry is saying the deal with the direct mailer gives it an unfair advantage over the local paper.

The Postal Service and the Commission disagree.

Rural EntrepreneursThe Street writes that people in rural communities are just as likely as those in cities to start businesses. But often there is less help for rural entrepreneurs. 

The financial publication runs through a number of the organizations set up to help rural businesses. Here is a description of one model:

One model of development, known as Enterprise Facilitation, has been tested in a few different states that have been losing population in rural counties. The collaborative, community-based program harkens back to the pioneer-era spirit of barn raising: a single person can start a business, but it will grow and prosper only by drawing on the skills and effort of a supportive group.  

In the Enterprise Facilitation system, a staff facilitator gives confidential, free mentoring to anyone interested in starting their own business; a board of local business leaders also meets monthly to offer their own assistance, whether it’s an introduction to a supplier or advice on getting financing. 

The Enterprise Facilitation model can deliver impressive results. Between 2003 and 2011, the Northeast Kansas Enterprise Facilitation group helped 52 businesses get off the ground and helped in the expansion of 17 more. The Southeast Enterprise Facilitation Project in South Dakota has helped 56 businesses open since it began in 2003. (Encouragingly enough, the number of businesses has grown each year, despite the economic circumstances.)  

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