Archive for December, 2009

Stock Show Volunteers Still Needed!

House Ag Chair Changes Party Affiliation

CO State Rep. Kathleen Curry of Gunnison

State Rep. Kathleen Curry has changed her voter registration from Democrat to unaffiliated, a move that will require the Gunnison lawmaker to relinquish her positions as speaker pro tem and chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Curry said she made the change Monday after talking to House Speaker Terrance Carroll, who had appointed Curry to the plum pro tem position.

“It’s just a matter of where I fit,” she said Tuesday. “But I’m not changing my personality overnight just because I filled out a form. I’m still going to vote my conscience, which the majority of time is with the Democrats.”

Speaker Terrance Carroll said he will decide in a few days which lawmaker will replace Curry as chair of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, and as speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in the House. The 2010 session opens Jan. 13.

Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo), Rep. Randy Fisher (D-Ft. Collins) and Rep. Wes McKinley (D- Walsh) are said to be the possible front runners for the chairmanship.

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The Facebook Guidebook

Facebook is the world’s leading social network, with over 300 million users and more than 900 employees. But how do you get the most out of it?

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups: What’s the Difference?

How Do I Find Friends?

What is a News Feed?

To answer these questions and more, Mashable has created The Facebook Guide Book, a complete collection of resources to help you master Facebook.

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USDA, USTR Concerned About Taiwanese Beef Barriers

The Agriculture Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are concerned that amendments to a Taiwanese Food Sanitation Act could bar imports of U.S. beef products to Taiwan and abrogate an October agreement that opened the Taiwanese market to U.S. beef imports.

“If passed, this amendment would represent a new barrier to U.S. beef exports to Taiwan, and would constitute a unilateral abrogation of a bilateral agreement concluded in good faith by the United States with Taiwan just two months ago,” Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Undersecretary for Farm and Agricultural Services Jim Miller said in a statement Tuesday.

Marantis and Miller said they were deeply concerned and disappointed that Taiwan’s legislative body had taken initial steps toward passage of the amendment. They said the proposed amendment has no basis in science or fact and does not serve to protect Taiwan’s food supply.

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U.S. Farm Income Projected to Decline in 2009

U.S. farm income is projected to decline in 2009, according to a new report from the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. The ERS report, “Agricultural Income Finance and Outlook,” shows all three measures of farm income are projected to decline in 2009.

Net farm income is projected to decline 34.5 percent, net cash income by 28.4 percent and net value-added income by 20 percent. Overall farm debt is expected to remain steady at $239 billion.

Average net farm income for farm businesses (intermediate and commercial operations, including non-family farms) is projected at $61,578 in 2009, down 10.6 percent from 2008. The largest declines in farm-business income are forecast for livestock farms, particularly dairy. Farm-operator household income is forecast at $76,065, down 3.5 percent compared to 2008. Household earnings from off-farm sources are projected to be similar to 2008, according to ERS.

Download the full report, Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, Dec. 2009, online.

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Investors See Farming as a Way to Grow Detroit

A community garden project in Drtroit

Reporting from Detroit – On the city’s east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

There’s so much land available and it’s begging to be used,” said Michael Score, president of the Hantz Farms, which is buying up abandoned sections of the city’s 139-square-mile landscape and plans to transform them into a large-scale commercial farm enterprise.

It is the size and scope of Hantz Farms that makes the project unique. Although company officials declined to pinpoint how many acres they might use, they have been quoted as saying that they plan to farm up to 5,000 acres within the Motor City’s limits in the coming years, raising organic lettuces, trees for biofuel and a variety of other things.

The project was launched two years ago by Michigan native and financier John Hantz, who has invested an initial $30 million of his own money toward purchasing equipment and land.

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Climate Bill Pushes Trees Over Food

Much like the climate “researchers” at East Anglia University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is “tweeking” a formula to produce a desired result on Cap & Trade legislation.

He has ordered his staff to revise a computerized forecasting model that showed that climate legislation supported by President Obama would make planting trees more lucrative than producing food.

The latest USDA economic impact study of the climate bill found that farmers would profit in the long haul from the legislation.

BUT… those profits would come mostly from higher prices for their crops caused by the legislation’s incentives to plant more forests and thus reduce the amount of land devoted to food-producing agriculture.

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