Friday, July 27, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Drought, Farm Bill and Disaster Assistance Chess

With the latest drought map and report showing widespread drought intensification over the central United States, House Republican leaders were on track to scheduling a potential vote for next week on disaster relief for livestock and specialty crop producers (several such disaster assistance programs that were in the 2008 Farm Bill expired last year). And several key House and Senate leaders have made incremental moves during the week implying that such a disaster relief vote could clear a heretofore blocked path to enacting a Farm Bill.  However, the end game and ultimate scope of that farm-food legislation are still very murky.  The legislative path could include a disaster relief bill, a full blown, five-year Farm Bill, a one-year Farm Bill stop-gap extension, or some combination of the above.  To read more details, including  how the drought-farm-food chess game played out this week on Capitol Hill, see our earlier analysis here and the news stories linked under "Farm Bill," below.  To read more details on and link to the three livestock and specialty crop producer disaster relief bills currently introduced in Congress see this listing.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  
  • Drought over 2/3 of US had been considered relatively shallow, but new report shows its intensity rapidly increasing
  • The Guardian: US midwest drought worsens despite rains
  • Rains sweeping across US Midwest raise hopes that crop conditions could stabilize amidst drought
  • Southwestern MN farmer says he could see above average corn and soybeans yields with a few more rains.
  • Despite showers, Midwest crops still stressed in drought areas
  • Drought forces ranchers to sell animals; shrinking US cattle herd to smallest size since USDA began July count in 1973
  • Wisconsin governor tours drought-savaged state
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack announces more efforts to help drought-stricken farmers | AgriPulse
  • USDA designates 76 more counties in 6 states as primary natural disaster areas due to drought damage/losses
  • USDA Risk Management Agency: crop insurance holders need not worry about coverage in event of drought-related losses
  • Looking for drought updates and resources? Stop by USDA’s disaster assistance page:
  • Washington Post editorial board perspective on the Farm Bill and drought: "Put a damper on Congress’s drought drama"
  • Most farmers are not sweating this year's drought like they did 24 years ago when 1988 drought hit
  • For nation's heartland-including key agricultural areas from Nebraska to Illinois-summer heat has proven relentless
  • USDA says drought will push up food prices in 2013
  • House GOP crafting relief bill for drought-hit livestock producers; transferring up to $300M from other farm programs
  • House Republicans scramble to find drought relief & Farm Bill solutions before August recess
  • NPR: In drought-stricken Midwest, hog & chicken farmers compete w ethanol factories for scarce; increasingly costly corn
Farm Bill-
  • Agricultural Economists develop “Comparison of Changes in Program Spending in the Senate and House Farm Bills" through 2022
  • Top House Agriculture Committee Dem signals support of 1-year Farm Bill extension if used to negotiate Senate deal
  • Momentum builds for short-term farm bill but fate still in limbo
  • Bipartisan Group of House Members urges leadership in letter to schedule Farm Bill Floor time next week
  • Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) takes steps toward discharge petition that would circumvent House leaders’ hold on Farm Bill
  • Conservation groups brief House Members on linkage between farmland conservation and crop insurance
  • In midst of severe drought, House leaders proposing to walk away from farm bill; decades of precedent
  • Op-Ed: US House farm bill ignores past mistakes by including "small, piecemeal and arbitrary sodaver provision"
  • "By September 30. Done. Signed by the president." Rep. Peterson's (D-MN) assessment of fate of 2012 Farm Bill
  • House Speaker Boehner may try to extend farm programs; fund drought disaster aid, leaving massive farm bill undone
  • Instead of a five-year Farm Bill, House leaders plan possible livestock drought disaster aid bill & one-year extension
  • NY Times editorial: US House appears to have abandoned any attempt to move forward with its version of farm bill
  • Missouri’s top sportsmens’ organizations commend US Sen. McCaskill’s work on Farm Bill
Agriculture -
  • SE MO State U grant to fund research on growing techniques; assess plant varieties being used in biomass/fuels industry
  • EPA rejects beekeepers’ petition to take harmful pesticide off market: saying it isn't “imminent hazard”
  • USDA has begun sign-up for its Highly Erodible Land Initiative under Conservation Reserve Program
  • 13 biofuel research and deployment projects will receive $41 million in federal funds under several USDA/DOE programs
Water Quality -
  • USGS study finds contamination in soil and water from Appalachian mountaintop coal mining sites
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair says committee will not consider water/sewer infrastructure bill
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passes 2; reschedules consideration of 3 water resource related bills
  • NACWA Sr. Director of Regulatory Affairs decries proliferation of “best guess” N and P water quality criteria
  • Federal judge grants motions to intervene filed by Attorneys General from 10 states in water quality lawsuit vs EPA
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
In the States -
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: EPA approves WI phosphorous pollution plan (172 WI waterways impaired due to high P)
  • EPA approves Wisconsin’s program to reduce phosphorus levels in Great Lakes and Wisconsin's inland waters; EPA release:
  • Greek ocean-going ship oil spill fine fine includes $100,000 payment to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; to be used in Louisiana
Forestry -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • USFS & NFWF seek grant proposals for effective costewardardship of natural resources in National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Drought helps wildlife managers cultivate ideal habitat conditions at Illinois River Valley migratory bird refuges
  • MN  lawmakers allocate $12.5 million over six years to fund lab examining invasive species
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approves several wildlife conservation bills
  • Rare Appalachian darter proposed for protected status; 100+ stream miles proposed for critical habitat designation
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Mississippi universities poised to help build science foundation for management of the gulf. (via @EDF_Louisiana)
  • Sediment diversions could help protect New Orleans from flooding
  • 2011 flooding and River bypassing gives scientists chance to study Mississippi River delta land restoration patterns
  • Environmental coalition offers its vision for Gulf coastal restoration, citing 39 priority project proposals
Resource Extraction -
  • Key fracking research sponsored by gas drillers; led by economist who historically wrote pro energy industry research
  • NPR story: Rifts emerge amid 'frac sand' rush In Wisconsin
  • Dunn County (Wisconsin) Board agrees to extend moratorium on silica sand mining for up to three more months
  • No slowdown foreseen for silica sand mining industry in west-central Wisconsin as long as fracking need continues
  • Drought helps fracking opponents build momentum in support of fracking water recycling
Federal Budget -
  • GOP and Dems coming together on plan to pass 6-month stopgap spending bill (Continuing Resolution; until end of March)
  • House and Senate leaders approach an agreement on a six-month FY 2013 Federal spending continuing resolution
  • Save the date: MO Coalition for the Environment anniversary: "Love Where You Live" Oct 7; Lemp Grand Hall, St Louis
  • Great Rivers Habitat Alliance 2012 Dinner with Friends; Sept 15, 7 PM CDT; Grant’s Farm; Saint Louis, MO
  • USGS briefing: Anatomy of Floods: Cause and Effect and the Epic Floods of 2011; Reston, VA; August 1; 7 PM EDT
  • Horinko Group Environmental Speaker Series Luncheon presentation by USDA NRCS Chief White (large Powerpoint file)
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • New book explores past/future challenges of ecological restoration, using IL tall grass prairie as relevant case study
Other news-
  • Bill McKibben's Rolling Stone magazine opinion piece: "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math"
  • Taxpayers foot cleanup bill at polluted site in south St. Louis at confluence of River Des Peres and Mississippi River
  • "Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee" organization raises awareness of and works against Mississippi River pollution
  • USDA website statement encouraging employees not to eat meat on Mondays was "made without proper clearance"
  • New Ohio State U research indicates carbon sequestration benefits are linked to wetlands restoration
  • 19 US metropolitan areas will hit 1 Million in population by 2042; three in Mississippi River Basin
Political Scene -
  • US Senate candidate Eric Hovde (WI), critical of farm subsidies, says his real estate firm will stop collecting farm subsidies
  • Former US Senator Bob Kerrey’s (NE) US Senate bid against state Sen. Deb Fischer (R) is an uphill climb
  • With only 19 pre-election House working days left, Hill braces for lame-duck frenzy; nothing settled on Farm Bill front
  • WI state Rep. Mark Pocan (D) clear front-runner in race to succeed US Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2)
  • How people consume political news - the major media streams represented in one chart
  • Democratic outside groups playing active role in defining GOP US Senate primary candidates in Missouri and Wisconsin
Last Word 
Sec. Vilsack, all Iowa delegation already agrees we need a farm bill now. Your time is far better spent in Ohio or Virginia this weekend.” - Tweet from House Agriculture Committee Member Steve King (R-IA), reflecting King's belief that it is Ohio's House Speaker Boehner and Virginia's House Majority Leader Cantor who are blocking movement on the Farm Bill.

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