The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday what may be the best use of taxpayer dollars in a long time. The program is aimed at helping farmers and ranchers improve the habitat in five Midwestern states to provide food for the nation's honeybees. Dairy farmers and ranchers in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas can qualify for about $3 million to reseed pastures with alfalfa, clover and other plants appealing to both bees and livestock. The return on investment? Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of produce each year.
There's No App for Drought
There's an app for just about everything it seems, but even the techies in California's Silicon Valley are suffering with the state's historic drought. Almost 1.8 million Silicon Valley residents and some of the world's biggest tech companies will have to cut their water consumption drastically after Santa Clara County, Calif., water commissioners approved mandatory drought restrictions Tuesday night. The measures will have a heavy impact on tech giants such as Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Google Inc. of Mountain View and Intel Corp. of Santa Clara. The Water District board calls for a mandatory 20% water use reduction.
Schools Off-Limits for Junk Food Ads
New USDA rules propose eliminating junk food advertising from school grounds. It's part of a broader effort – championed by First Lady Michelle Obama – to combat childhood obesity. Under the proposal, sugary drinks and junk foods would be phased out on school campuses, as would advertising for those products. Which means Coca-Cola or Pepsi wouldn't be allowed to advertise on the scoreboard at high school football and basketball games. In total, companies are spending $149 million each year marketing products to kids in schools. The beverage industry says they’re on board with the rule changes. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the more healthful drinks that will be offered in schools is the "logical next step."
Global Farm Population Declines
Well documented is the declining number of American farmers, now totaling less than 1% of our 313 million citizens. Globally, the number of farmers is also declining, but the demographics are not even close to those in America. In fact, more than one-third (37 %) of the world's population are still dependent on agriculture, hunting, fishing and forestry for their livelihood. Of the world's 7 billion people, 2.6 billion of them remain directly involved in agriculture, according to The Worldwatch Institute. Asia and Africa account for about 95% of the world's ag population, while the Americas account for about 4%.