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The New York Times is blaming dairy farmers now for the nation’s obesity problems.

Yesterday, the paper reported that Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, triple that of 1970. The paper says this fattening turn is the result of a highly successful marketing campaign devised by Dairy Management, described by the paper as “a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture.”

Only later do we learn that Dairy Management is paid for by dairy farmers themselves, with check-off money. 

Once again, the press blames farmers for what American stuff down their pie holes.

• The real power in how farmers farm will be Wal-Mart, writes Philip Brasher. The Des Moines Register reporter tells us that the grocery giant has said it will double sales of locally grown food by 2015 and that it will see to it that all its food is grown in “sustainable” ways.

What will this mean? “I’m not under any illusion that farmers are going to get premiums for these practices,” said Russell Williams, who is following the Walmart initiative for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It’s going to be a cost of doing business. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to focus on how not to destroy farm income.”

“A large corporation like Walmart has some definite power here to accomplish something, but they have two goals and one, of course, is their bottom line, and the other is to keep their prices low,” said Lee Searles, who follows water quality for the Iowa Environmental Council. “It remains to be seen if (Walmart’s initiative) will be truly effective. It sounds good.” 

• The U.S. went on a prison-building boom in the early 1980s. Many of these were built in rural communities.

But what happens now that states are slashing budgets? 

• The Iowa caucuses are only 15 months away. (Sorry.) The recent election has energized a whole new group of Republicans, and the Des Moines Register expects those folks to remain active right through the 2012 election.

Who will that benefit? “We have a group of people who are engaged who don’t typically engage in off-year elections, or at all, who are very motivated right now,” said Ed Failor Jr. of Muscatine, a Republican and president of Iowans for Tax Relief. “And anyone who has really swam against the stream of government overreach is going to appeal to them.”

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