Friday, May 30, 2014

What We Learned This Week

Farm and Farmland Trends in the U.S. (click to enlarge)
Three landscapes in the Mississippi River Basin are considered "Critical Conservation Areas" by the USDA, and that agency's Secretary, Tom Vilsack. believes that a House Appropriations Committee bill that reduces funding for conservation programs would have "some small impact" if passed.  Asian carp eggs were not discovered this past spring in the Mississippi River near Lynxville, Wisconsin after all. Minneapolis has the best urban green spaces in the country for the second year running.  The number of farms in the United States in 2013 was estimated to be down by seven thousand; total land in farms decreased 360 thousand acres; and average farm size was up two acres from the previous year.  Louisiana Senator David Vitter is the most "median" of all U.S. Senators when it comes to the number of bills he sponsored or cosponsored that were actually enacted (78) during his tenure. The Mississippi River Basin champion is Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has seen 675 bills that he sponsored or cosponsored eventually become law.  Three-quarters of the salient issues on the U.S. Congressional agenda are subject to legislative gridlock.  And last but not least, Americans are more concerned when the term "global warming" is used to describe that environmental challenge. "Climate change," by contrast, leaves them relatively unmoved.  Which is perhaps why a $51.2 billion spending bill the House passed this week would boost NOAA weather forecast funding but cut spending on climate research.

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