Welcome to hump day! If you're reading this after noon, you're on the downward slope - so you can coast for a few minutes and read this roundup. If it isn't noon yet, well, go ahead and read it anyway. You can bust your "hump" to make up the time later.
First up today, a slightly offbeat story in the wake of the egg recall: the Dalai Lama issued a statement last week that, according to P.J. Huffstutter of the Los Angeles Times, "(ever so nicely) lambastes egg farmers in commercial agriculture and advocates that consumers switch to cage-free eggs." Veterinarian (and subcommittee chair with the National Academy of Science) Craig Reed, however, says neither the size of the egg farms involved nor their use of cages made them any more prone to salmonella outbreaks. In fact, Dr. Reed told Feedstuffs magazine that a lot more is "left to chance" in cage-free environments where hens are likely to eat one another's droppings and lay eggs in unsanitary locations.
In the political arena, The Daily Yonder is reporting that nearly two thirds of the House districts identified as "most likely to switch their party leadership" are in rural areas. Of these 64 house districts, 55 are currently held by Democrats. A gain of 39 seats or more would hand control of the House of Representatives to the GOP, which means rural America quite literally has the ability to reshape the political landscape this fall. And, as the authors put it, "The rurals are politically restless."
While rural areas may be politically restless, economically they may be better off than many other areas of the country. The McPherson (Kansas) Sentinal headlines a story, "Reports show encouraging growth in rural economy." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is quoted saying, “As they have time and time again, American farmers and ranchers are stayed resilient and working to support a foundation of economic prosperity for the rest of the nation.” Urban Lehner of DTN has some interesting thoughts about this divergence between the rural economy and that of the nation as a whole here.
Finally, Successful Farming's agriculture.com site is reporting that corn harvest is ahead of schedule this year throughout much of the country, with 17% of the corn crop ready to harvest - "6% ahead of the previous average, and 12% above a year ago." Corn farmers aren't the only ones harvesting crops, though: CNET reported this week that Facebook's Farmville game now has 63 million active users per month, each spending an average of 15 minutes a day virtually farming. According to the EPA, there are fewer than 2 million people in the United States who list farming (for real) as either a primary or secondary occupation. Just some (virtual) food for thought.