President Biden’s infrastructure plan has been getting a lot of scrutiny lately with much of the discussions concerning urban renewal like repairing bridges going into cities and fixing problems with transportation. But rural America may see some benefits from the proposed two trillion dollar plan. At this stage, it calls for spending $100 billion on rural broadband, $20 billion repairing rural highway bridges, $10 billion for rural and tribal water systems, $5 billion for the rural partnership program and $2 billion to invest in USDA rural housing loans.
As we look at drought conditions in the Four corners Region this spring, the UN World Water Development Report 2021, published last month, points out that water problems in the Four Corners Region may not be as dire as it is some parts of the world. Concerns identified in the report includes that four in 10 people worldwide don’t have enough safe drinking water, and that by 2050, more than half of the global population is expected to face water stress because demand will outstrip available water resources. More than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing water stress, and about 4 billion people live in areas that suffer from severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. Agriculture accounts for nearly 70% of global water withdrawals, mainly for irrigation, but also for livestock and aquaculture. While irrigating, I often think about how the water I’m applying to my fields exceeds the quality of water that many people in the world use for drinking, cooking and cleaning, which is borne out by the statistic that 3 billion people don’t have hand-washing facilities with water and soap at home, including nearly three-quarters of those who live in the poorest countries.
Scientists at the University of California, at Merced, and Santa Cruz analyzed the economic and financial effects of placing solar panels over California’s 4,000 miles of the canals that transport water from mountains and reservoirs to farm fields and communities downstream. The study, published in the Journal Nature Sustainability, determined that the panels would operate more efficiently by being cooled by the water underneath, providing 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually, while preventing evaporation of about 193,000 acre feet of water.
Over the past several years, cattle producers have contended that the market place for beef hasn’t been based simply on supply and demand, but has been skewed by large meat packers. Recently the U.S. Justice Department issued civil subpoenas to JBS-USA Holdings, the largest meat packer in the world, Tyson Foods, and National Beef Packing Company to investigate price fixing allegations. These subpoenas follow three price fixing settlements this year involving Archer Daniels Midland and peanut farmers, and Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods for manipulating the price of chicken, which affected both producers and consumers. To settle these suits, Archer Daniels Midland agreed to pay farmers $45 million. Pilgrim’s pride paid $110.5 million and Tyson Foods $221.5 million for their price fixing rackets. This sounds like a lot of cash, until the we consider that the combined net income of these three companies was almost $5 billion in 2020.
Mahatma Gandhi, Indian lawyer, and political ethicist said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”