First, a mandatory story about the salmonella outbreak and resulting egg recalls. It turns out that the FDA investigated the farms in question after the outbreak, and found a whole slew of violations, including rodents near feed grain, flies and larval flies (maggots). Who would have guessed those would have been found on a farm? In all seriousness, there were likely some serious violations, particularly in sanitation practices. But I think the media's going to blow this just a little out of proportion for a population that is shocked to find that mice like to eat grain and flies come from maggots.
At a dual press conference in Wichita and Little Rock, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials touted a plan to improve the nation's transportation and freight capacity, focusing on rural roads and intercity freight. From the Houston Chronicle story:
60 million people who live in rural America equal the population of the nation's largest 100 cities.
"Too often what we found, the needs of rural America ... are not understood," [AASHTO Director John] Horsley said.Certainly, improvements can be made in much of rural infrastructure. The difficulty of getting crops to market in a timely manner, and fighting with road and rail freight over the costs of doing so, has long been a major issue to farmers. You can read the whole AASHTO proposal here.
The report notes that 66 U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to interstate highways. The list includes Jefferson City, Mo., which is a state capitol. In Arkansas, Hot Springs and Jonesboro are on the list, although the state has the 12th largest highway system in the U.S., Arkansas highways director Dan Flowers said.
California has 19 cities on the list, Texas has seven and Georgia and Wisconsin have three each. No other state has more than two.
Many two-lane rural roads were constructed decades ago and don't have shoulders or emergency lanes. Three times as many fatal crashes occur in rural areas as in cities, so upgrades can be justified on the basis of safety alone, the association said.
An aid package from Washington, DC directed to farmers in embattled Senator Blanche Lincoln's state of Arkansas might arrive behind schedule, according to Arkansasbusiness.com. You may or may not insert your own cynical comments regarding government largess appearing a couple months before a close election here.
On the international front, Voice of America news has a story about efforts to improve access to latrines in rural Cambodia. Such forms of sanitation, that we often take for granted, could be had relatively cheaply and make huge strides in the health and indeed the economy of poor countries around the world. This story is about latrines, but beneath it, it's always about access to clean water. As Nick noted last week, water's for fighting over, and there's a reason for that.
No word on whether or not the landowner was out hunting when it was found, but the AP reports a farm in North Carolina recently uncovered a 65-carat emerald. Where would you move if you made such a discovery? Beverly? (Hills, that is) Would you stay right where you were and keep digging? Would you have some other plan? Let us know in the comments, and have a great day!