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Deer camp folly

With deer season well behind us, I can tell one of those Ozark stories that encompass a culture where children are not allowed to believe that the world owes them a living. From “time out of mind,” as a friend pinpointed it, Ozark kids have taken part in harvest rituals such as bringing in a crop, gathering pecans and walnuts, getting the winter’s firewood put into stacks and laying in a supply of meat for the long winter ahead.

“The biggest deer this year,” as an old friend told me proudly, “was killed by my granddaughter, who’s not but 11 years old.”
When I taught one room schools in the Ozarks, I got used to this priority of values that shut school down for deer season, ostensibly for the reason that “It’s dangersome for children to walk through the woods when hunters are about.” But actually because my students were expected to take part in the season as an important piece of their education.

The finest example of this preoccupation with Ozark values is a story that’s stuck with me for 40 years now and is worth retelling.
One of my eighth graders, Allen, went into the woods, with numerous uncles, cousins and some neighbors to set up a deer camp. In order to keep the place tidy, they dug a latrine outside the camp—a trench 3 feet deep, to accommodate seven people, and the hunters had the path well worn by the second day of deer season.

On the morning of the third day, there were three deer hanging in trees to cool out, and the smell of venison cooking established the place as a real deer camp. One of Allen’s uncles, who had already killed his deer, was cooking lunch, and it was Allen’s turn to bring in firewood.
Allen described what happened in his own terms.

“I was just draggin’ in limbs for the wood pile when I heard hounds a’comin’, and all of a sudden the biggest old buck you ever seen come runnin’ into the camp and stopped just short of a tent, lookin’ around like he was figurin’ out the best way through. Uncle Alvy yells ‘Head him!’ like it was a cow instead of a deer, and makes a dash for his gun, and all I knowed to do was run and wave my arms to keep that thing from runnin’ over me. Uncle Alvy was a runnin’ and shootin’ that 30-30 and not payin’ any mind to where he was, and next thing I seen, he had measured his length in that ditch we had dug for everybody to go outdoors in. Best we could tell he never touched that deer.

“‘Well,’ says Uncle Alvy when he’d got up out of there. ‘This here proves what I’ve always said; these deers is always catching a person at his worst!’”
In my experience, the moral of that story hasn’t changed one bit in 50 years!

Mitch Jayne, 1928 to 2010, was a 20-year contributor to Today’s Farmer. Reprinted from March 2002.

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BASF plant science division moves to North Carolina

No point in staying in Europe

Environmentalists in Europe and the Raleigh-Durham Chamber of Commerce both consider themselves victors in the recent decision by BASF to drop plans to sell biotech potatoes in the European market and move its plant science division to Research Triangle.

According to a company release, the headquarters of BASF Plant Science will be moved from Limburgerhof, Germany, to Raleigh, North Carolina. Research and development activities will be concentrated mainly in Raleigh, Ghent, Belgium and Berlin, Germany. Development and commercialization of all products targeted solely at cultivation in the European market will be halted. Regulatory approval processes which have already started will be continued.

“We are convinced that plant biotechnology is a key technology for the 21st Century. However, there is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe—from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians. Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market,” said Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, member of the board of executive directors of BASF, responsible for plant biotechnology.

“We will therefore concentrate on the attractive markets for plant biotechnology in North and South America and the growth markets in Asia.”
Currently 157 employees work for BASF Plant Science in Limburgerhof. The company plans to close its sites in Gatersleben, Germany and in Svalöv, Sweden. Some 123 positions will transfer from Limburgerhof and Gatersleben to other BASF Plant Science sites, mainly Raleigh. The move will precipitate an overall reduction of 140 positions in Europe in the next couple years. BASF posts about $80 billion in sales annually across its diversified global business units.

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Congress funds Bootheel clean-up

Last April, the flood-swollen Mississippi River threatened to over-top levees on the Illinois side. To prevent this, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the Birds Point levee near New Madrid, Mo., flooding nearly 135,000 acres of choice Missouri Bootheel land.

Early this year, Congress appropriated $216 million under the Emergency Watershed Protection program. In January, 2012, USDA distributed the funding nationally to help relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Missouri was granted $35 million, primarily to address the Mississippi River flooding of southeastern Missouri. Counties affected are Butler, Cape Girardeau, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott and Stoddard.

“This money will go mostly to cleaning sediment and debris out of drainage ditches,” said Harold Deckerd, NRCS assistant State Conservationist. “We’ve also approved some EWP work for counties in northwest Missouri, but most of the projects are being done in the Bootheel.”
Congress set up the EWP to respond to emergencies caused by natural disasters. The purpose of EWP is to help groups of people with a common problem; it’s generally not an individual assistance program.

“For the most part, EWP work is not done on individual private lands,” said Deckerd. “Individual landowners need to have a sponsoring agency—county commission, levee district, drainage district, etc.—some entity that has general property easements.”
Most local soil and water conservation districts cannot sponsor EWP projects because these districts do not have such easements.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is responsible for administering the program.

“We provide planning, oversee the project and sign off on completed work,” added Deckerd. “NRCS also provides up to 75 percent of the cost, in most cases. The remaining cost-share is the responsibility of the sponsoring agency, as is the actual contracting of work to be done.”
The sponsor’s 25 percent share of costs may be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Sponsors also must provide easements and any necessary permits to do the needed repair work.

EWP projects are not limited to any set of prescribed measures. NRCS does a case-by-case evaluation of work needed, which may include removing sediment and debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges; reshaping and protecting eroding stream banks; repairing levees and other structures; and reseeding damaged areas. EWP funds generally cannot be used to correct problems that existed before the disaster occurred, and cannot be used to perform work on projects undertaken by another federal agency.

If you believe your area has suffered damage that qualifies under the EWP program, you need to contact your county government or the supervisor of your general improvement district and ask them to sponsor the repair work.

Local NRCS offices have information explaining the eligibility requirements for EWP programs.

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Bloggers see better economic times ahead

Kauffman Foundation survey quizzes top economic bloggers

We like the Kauffman Economic Outlook’s quarterly survey of top economic bloggers for a few reasons: the foundation is the legacy of Ewing Kauffman, a farm-born fellow from Garden City, Mo.; the Kauffman Foundation is based in Today’s Farmer country’s Kansas City, a city with plenty of agricultural awareness; and, finally, in its attempt to spread the philosophy of its founder, the Kauffman Foundation is keenly interested in spurring entrepreneurial enterprises—the very kind of enterprises that might help bolster rural and farm life.

Alongside all those factors, the bloggers surveyed are a mixed bag of thinkers who work hard to communicate to other economists and laypeople alike. We like the diversity of opinion delivered from these digital scribblers trying to make sense of the passing scene. The survey is sent to some 200 leading economics bloggers as identified in the Palgrave’s Econolog.net.

Despite a continued cloudy view of the U.S. economy, those surveyed lean toward measured optimism—with 14 percent of respondents agreeing that the economy is “strong and growing” or “strong with uncertain growth.”

When asked to identify policy options to stimulate the economy, these economics bloggers overwhelmingly supported approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, with 77 percent in agreement (25 percent strongly agreeing), while 75 percent favor opening up more domestic areas to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Other preferred policy recommendations included giving states flexibility to set their own minimum wage (67 percent agreeing) and the revenue-neutral adoption of a value added tax (58 percent agreeing). Opinion remained split on raising the top marginal income tax.

Other research highlights include:
•    A majority (63 percent) of respondents believe the government is too involved in the economy, despite the largely non-partisan identification of panel members.
•    No respondents to this survey characterize the economy as “weak and recessing,” an improvement over previous surveys.
•    Asked about the most desirable changes to the U.S. K-12 education system, five changes had over 70 percent support, the strongest being “more flexibility for principals to hire and fire,” with 81 percent agreeing, half of those strongly. Respondents viewed “greater federal involvement” as the most negative of the options suggested, with 59 percent disagreeing.

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