Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekend Roundup and Farmer Rig of the Week

Well, it's Labor Day weekend, but more importantly, this weekend marks the return of football season.  Part of the rural mentality is its tendency toward local patriotism, and to me, that's best represented by the attachment people have to their local teams, and the intensity of the "friendly" rivalries between schools and states. 

Speaking of local preference, Business Week has a story on the results of a study regarding a program in South Carolina supporting "SC Grown" labels of origin.  The study suggests that the program could create as many as 10,000 jobs per year.  While I'm skeptical of a number that large, it certainly doesn't hurt the sales of products.  Such programs are growing nationwide, spurred on by the conjunction of the "local food" movement and economic interests.  While I don't necessarily entirely agree with "local food," that such labels support agriculture is undeniable.  It might even bring people a step or two closer to their food; when they can recognize where their steak or vegetables came from, they might even have to recognize that they came from a farm.  And that's a good thing.

More on highway funding.  Bloomberg reports that highway funding does more to support rural transportation than urban transportation.  That's not surprising, given two obvious factors: The first being that the cost of living to support construction crews is often lower in rural areas than in urban ones, and the second being that in rural areas, diverting traffic is a matter of adding a little width to the road, while in urban areas, it could be a function of closing down and diverting multiple major arteries to repair one overpass.  It's good to consider, however, when you're looking at transportation funding numbers.

WANE-TV in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is reporting that farm incomes in that state are likely to increase this year as much as 20%.  This is expected as a result of normal economic factors, such as lower costs of fuel, fertilizer, and other consumables, in addition to the fact that China is buying US corn for the first time in 15 years.  While global trade has its disadvantages in an industry where the cost of labor plays such a major role in price, it has its advantages in opening markets and expanding the number of consumers, as well. 

Finally, every week, I want to add a new segment to the weekend roundup, highlighting the ingenuity and resourcefulness of farmers everywhere.  I call it the Farmer-Rig of the Week.

Photo by Sky News
We've got two entries, though neither are pure farmer-rigs.  First is an AP story on retro-fitting rollcages and seatbelts in older tractors to increase farm safety.  I'd say not being crushed by a few tons of tractor is a good thing.  Second is the tale of The Police Tractor.  From Sky News, police in Lincolnshire, England have created a police tractor.  They won't be engaged in any high-speed chases, or hunting down criminal cow-tippers, however.  The idea is to go around to local rural gatherings, and use the tractor to display their interest in fighting rural crime.  I'm not sure how effective that will be in actually fighting crime, but it's a pretty cool rig, if you ask me. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!  If you're traveling, drive safely!  Have fun rooting for your teams!

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