News

oklegislature.gov

The Oklahoma Legislature has over 230 bills to consider at this point.  The proposed legislation ranges from a prohibiting agency heads from making new hires to the screening of emergency patients for transport reports KGOU.

Some of the other draft bills include: allowing victims of domestic violence to bring evidence from relevant cases; eliminating four government agencies; preventing family members or caregivers convicted of neglect, abuse, exploitation, or other crimes against the elderly or disabled from inheriting any portion of the victim’s estate; banning texting while driving; allowing multi-religious symbols in school for winter celebrations, and allowing legislators to carry firearms after completing a CLEET course.

Lori Potter / Kearney Hub

The NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program targets funds to priority resource concerns such as a lack of wildlife habitat, erosion control, water quantity, and water quality. Partners, like water conservation management districts, submit proposals to help producers install and maintain conservation activities in select project areas. These proposals often included innovative or experimental approaches.

Luke Clayton

Hello Folks!

The last buck of the season brought a big surprise to this ole boy.  I was set up in my ground blind, the last day of deer season, the last hours of the day, when movement caught my eye.  And, there was a big ole tom bobcat.  I thought he'd just look around, and then go on his way, but the rascal headed right for the door of my blind.  He was about six feet away when I shut the door.  There simply was not enough room for ole Luke and that cat in the blind.

That really got me going!

Every now and then things just seem to fall in to place.  Yesterday I came into work to prepare for today’s show, and I was concerned because I didn’t know what the featured CD for the week would be.  I opened the mail and there it was in my hand.  Lyal Srickland’s new record is called ‘Balanced On Barbed Wire’ and it is a beautiful work; instantly captivating and engaging.  We will listen to ‘Balanced On Barbed Wire’ this week on High Plains Morning. 

driversed.com

Some of us rise long before dawn breaks the horizon and hit narrow two lane highways in night’s deepest black. For these folks, life between the white lines balances boredom caused by limited visibility  with edge of the seat, adrenaline-rushing thrills.

Early each morning I turn east on Highway 9 and immediately shrink to a blip on the universe’s radar. If satellites actually watch cars passing down remote roads, I ‘d hardly be visible in my silver Toyota that blends in with a worn asphalt ribbon  connecting one shrinking farm town to another. I’d show up as two tiny eastward moving light rays.

cdc.gov

Already, flu and pneumonia have been a factor in more than 500 deaths in Kansas reports KPR’s Bryan Thompson.

 People older than 64 or younger than five are being hit the hardest. The CDC is advising people with chronic conditions, pregnant women, senior citizens, and small children to take antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, if they become infected. Dr. Mike Munger, at St. Luke’s South Primary Care, in Overland Park, says the drugs need to be taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms to minimize the severity of the flu.

When it comes to who wants to be the next president, all roads seem to lead to … Texas.

There are about two dozen serious contenders for the office.  And, an uncanny number have a legitimate Texas connection reports the Texas Tribune

Some have been in the Lone Star State for just a few months, often on a campaign job.   Others were born there.  Still others were educated or lived there for a job.

extension.purdue.edu

There is disparity when comparing broadband access in urban and rural America.  The gap gets even bigger when it comes to access on the farm reports Choices Magazine.

Data suggests 100 percent of urban residents have access to at least one broadband provider… compared to 78 percent of rural residents.

Take it a step further.  On the farm 70 percent of farms in 2012 had internet access, but it’s the level of service that varies.  Seven percent of farmers use dial-up, 13 percent satellite, and 13 percent mobile broadband.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State finance official in Oklahoma are worried about the plummeting price of crude.  State ImpactOklahoma reports they are projecting budget cuts and potential job losses.

In the oil field, some energy companies are slashing spending while others try to weather what they hope will be a short downturn.

Gov. Mary Fallin met with top officials in December to certify tax revenues for state budget planning.  Estimates now show a revenue loss of about $300 million.  If oil prices stay low, state agencies could face steep cuts.

farmingthedream.com

Organic farming may be just as healthy for the farmers who practices it as it is to their consumers reports the Center for Rural Affairs.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health recently completed a 20 year study on the connection between pesticides and depression in farmers.

A long-lived garden

Jan 7, 2015
goinghometoroost.com

This was the year that keeps on giving when it comes to the garden, except for the beets that I replanted three times with no results.

I'm hoping to have a few last salads in the New Year with my remaining tomatoes. 

The Big Fat Surprise

Jan 7, 2015
wsj.com

The American Heart Association warns us eating foods containing saturated fats raises your cholesterol level… which in turn increases your risk of heart disease.  But, what if they’re wrong?

Nina Teicholz makes a compelling argument in her new book The Big Fat Surprise.  She questions if saturated fat is truly to blame reports the Economist

Her case is the vilification doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny.  She pokes holes in famous pieces of research pointing out the methodological problems and overlooked results.

poandpo.com

The Chevron plant in Borger, Texas is under new ownership reports the Amarillo Globe News

Chevron Phillips Chemical and international giant, Solvay, announced this week they have completed a $220 million deal including Chevron’s Ryton plant.

The Ryton plant makes a component of plastics from chemicals found in natural gas.  Most employees of the facility will transfer to Solvay says a company spokeswoman.

tokeofthetown.com

The number of Colorado children treated for accidental pot consumption has doubled.  The Global Post reports numbers have reached the double digits. 

Arapahoe House Denver-area facilities have seen a 66 percent increase in the number of teens being treated for cannabis abuse.

Kevin Sabet is the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.  He says the brakes need to be put on the marijuana industry. 

kansasleadershipcenter.org

Americans, especially those in largely rural states, have little confidence in their neighbors, elected officials, media outlets, and schools reports Emily Badger for the Washington Post.

When it comes to public schools, Nebraska has the most confidence.  40 percent of Kansans have a great deal of confidence in the education system.

Residents of Mississippi talk about politics with their friends the most.  In the listening region, Colorado takes the top spot.

iraqenergy.org

The price of a barrel of oil is in a free fall according to KUT News.  The U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 early this week... matching levels of spring 2009.

The drop is linked to OPEC’s boosted production and a stronger dollar. 

OPEC member nations production increases are an effort to protect their market share and undercut American profits.  Both Iraq and Russia are producing crude at record levels.

The dollar’s increased value is at a nine year high against the euro.  Reasons for that gain are renewed instability in Greece and the possibility that the European Central Bank could introduce quantitative easing to stimulate the eurozone.

oklahomafarmreport.com

Producer Joel Bergman of Loomis, Nebraska, talks about how he switched from labor-intensive canal and gravity irrigation to pivot and underground drip systems on his 1500-acre operation. The Bergman farmstead prevents one pivot system from sweeping 360 degrees, bypassing the pie-slice where the farmstead is located. Bergman proposed putting in a wiper center pivot and 20-acres' worth of underground drip irrigation.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Governor Sam Brownback and some legislators have been saying Kansas should rewrite the funding formula used to distribute state tax dollars to K-12 schools. A court ruled last week that the state is underfunding Kansas schools. As Kansas Public Radio’s Stephen Koranda reports the decision may add more energy to the call to rewrite the school finance formula.

In a previous ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s finance system should be judged by determining if the spending levels achieve certain student outcomes.

University of Kansas constitutional law professor Richard E. Levy says if lawmakers decide to tackle the formula, that’s the angle they’ll probably need to take.

Helen H. Richardson / denverpost.com

Farmers are getting older.  At one time, the physical challenges driving them from the farm are now being overcome with the help of a program called the AgrAbility Project reports the Denver Post.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 22-state program helps older, disabled farmers stay on the job as long as possible. 

538 individuals have been helped in Colorado where the program is a joint effort of Goodwill Industries of Denver and Colorado State University. 

Getting off the chemical treadmill

Jan 4, 2015
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Farmers engaged in an epic struggle with “superweeds” – weeds that don’t die even when sprayed with herbicide – are looking for help from a new super chemical that’s about to hit the market.

Currently the last line of defense against weeds not felled by other herbicides, the new chemical could be defeated if it is overused and farmers could be left in even worse straits.  

Pigweed Problem

Herbicide-resistant Pigweeds are marching north into soybean and corn fields across the Midwest from the southern U.S. where they choked cotton fields so completely that the land cannot be farmed They can grow up to seven feet tall and produce more than half a million seeds per plant, per season.

Quentin Hope

A report on water use for fracking in Texas finds that it is not the only or even the most significant contributor to the longstanding problem of water use in Texas. 

The policy brief by The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at Texas A&M University is based on a study that looks closely at water use in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in south Texas where fresh groundwater aquifers are overdrawn by nearly 2.5 times their recharge rate.  Hydraulic fracturing operations there make up the third largest use of groundwater, well behind irrigation, the primary use.  However, hydraulic fracturing does requires large amounts of water, roughly five million gallons, for each well.

Kevin Rolle flickr/creative commons

The Kansas Biological Survey at KU has been awarded a $2.1 million contract to play an essential role in the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, a program resulting from the bird being listed as an endangered species in May of last year.  Companies that enroll in the plan, pay mitigation fees and follow recommended conservation measures are exempted from provisions of the Endangered Species Act and protected from penalties.

BIG Sister Club

Jan 4, 2015
etsy.com

People join clubs for different reasons, and sometimes they gain membership because of something someone else did. That’s certainly the case for those initiated into the big sister or brother club. Affiliation with this organization has nothing to do with a child’s intentions. Involvement is totally a result of parental action. 

The main reason most people don't like the strong taste of duck is because they don't take steps to remove the blood from the duck.   Here are a couple mouth-watering methods.  Remove the breast of the duck, butterflying each half, then place them in a 50/50 mix of soy sauce and Coca-Cola.  I marinate them overnight in a Ziploc bag.  The next day, I put a slice of jalapeno pepper in the middle, fold it over, wrap it with bacon, then indirectly smoke it.  Don't put it right over the flame, but smoke it for about an hour.  

Nu-Life Market

Grain sorghum has long been a step-child crop to wheat and corn on the High Plains, used mainly as a secondary cattle feed and ethanol distilling grain.  But its status may be improving with the growing gluten-free food movement, for which sorghum is ideally suited.

However, capturing this food-grade, certified food market is no easy task.  That’s evident in the sophisticated business and production model developed by Nu-Life Market, a “farm-to-fork” enterprise operating in Scott County, Kansas. 

Plains, Kansas is plugging away at addressing an issue facing many small towns on the High Plains – the lack of a grocery store. So far, about $400,000 in funding has been secured through tax credits, grants, donations and fund-raisers. That’s towards a total estimated cost of roughly 1.4 million dollars to buy land, build the new structure, and equip, stock and staff the store. The project is featured in this a recent New York Times article. While recognizing the determined efforts of community residents, it poses the question of whether the local grocery, if successfully built, will be able to overcome the “Walmart” effect. (Plains is located 25 miles northeast of Liberal, where there’s a Walmart, Dillons grocery and Asian, Mexican and natural food markets.)

Post Foods

Demand for products that don’t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.  

Many food companies are seeking certification that their products don’t have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even plain Cheerios, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.

There’s one High Plains commodity that’s likely to have another good year in 2015 – beef tongue sales to Japan. Exports were up 150 percent in 2013 and on track to rise even higher in 2014. And demand continues to grow, as do the ways of eating beef tongue in Japan, as this feature article from McClatchy DC explains:

A Fruitful Calendar

Dec 31, 2014
smithsonianmag.com

My calendar for the new year takes me back to a time when crates for vegetables and fruit were made of sturdy wood, and the labels were works of art.

dok1/Flickr

  To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Corn, wheat and rice make up some of the most crucial ingredients to diets across the world. With a booming global population, FAO says in the next 35 years farmers will need to ratchet up production of these three commodities to 3 billion tons – that’s half a billion tons more than the record harvest of 2013.

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