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Farmers and the Estate Tax Myth

"The Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest agricultural lobbying group, has featured estate tax repeal among its key legislative priorities for many years. The current president, Zippy Duvall of Georgia, recently responded to President Trump’s tax reform plan, stating that, “Eliminating the estate tax will free farmers to invest in the future of their family businesses rather than selling off their land and legacy when a family member dies.”

The Farm Bureau is joined by national and state commodity groups, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council, in their continuous estate tax repeal campaign. This message has penetrated Republican orthodoxy deeply, and remains on President Trump’s stump speech checklist of policies to help “forgotten rural America.”

But, like so many issues in today’s political landscape, instead of offering any clear data or empirical evidence to back up their rhetoric, agriculture industry groups and their political allies are simply pushing policies that favor a massive wealth transfer. They are actively working to dismantle government spending that supports the poor, the working class, and rural communities in favor of gigantic paydays for the super-rich."

Ash trees disappearing across Pennsylvania

"The outlook is grim, but not hopeless."

"The emerald ash borer has devastated a research plot of 2,100 ash trees at the edge of Penn State's University Park. Kim Steiner, currently director of The Arboretum at Penn State, in 1978 planted seeds from green ash trees to understand how species adapt to their environments. The ash plantation is the largest collection of green ash germplasm at one location in the world and could play a significant role in saving the species."

"We have about 15 trees remaining that show little or no die-back from emerald ash borer," Steiner said. "They look pretty healthy, and we know that most of them have been attacked because they have exit holes where the adults have emerged after feeding on the inner bark."

"Any level of genetic-based resistance could be something to build on to save the species, she said."

"Penn State molecular geneticist John Carlson is looking at the genetic mechanisms by which surviving trees might be battling the insects. He has seen some biochemical or genetic responses. He and Steiner have been talking with DCNR officials about planting Penn State's lingering ash trees on state forest lands and in private forests."

"Some trees inoculated with eggs from the ash borer actually seem to kill beetle larvae, according to research by Jennifer Koch at the U.S. Forest Service Laboratory in Delaware, Ohio."

"DCNR plans to treat about 200 trees across Pennsylvania's 20 state forest districts, try biological controls at 10 sites and protect three seed orchards."

A New Vaccine Campaign Could Be The First Step In Wiping Out ‘Goat Plague’

"The virus was first identified in Ivory Coast in 1942 and has spread to some 70 countries since then. It is quite good at spreading, both by animal-to-animal contact and through the air. "It's very, very contagious," says Adesogan.

It has not reached the United States because our quarantine measures and our control of animal imports keep sick animals out. Since the acute form of the disease lasts only a week or two, quarantines definitely work. Nor has it been reported in Europe.

Now there's an effort to eradicate the disease by 2030 — to wipe it out just as its relative, the cattle plague called rinderpest, was officially eliminated in 2011 after decades of effort. The key is to vaccinate the herds with a shot administered in the neck or rump. The problem up until now has been that the freeze-dried vaccine was only effective if kept at about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. And there isn't a lot of refrigeration available in many parts of the world where the virus lurks."

Thousands of pigs roamed the streets of New York City in the 1800s, until gentrification drove them away. — Quartz

"On his first visit to America in 1842, Charles Dickens found plenty to ridicule—America’s money obsession, their manners, their tobacco chewing habits. But the biggest target of Dickens’ humor was New Yorkers. Specifically, their pigs."

"Stepping onto Broadway, New York’s biggest commercial thoroughfare, Dickens encountered “two portly sows” and “a select party of half-a-dozen gentlemen hogs” among the brightly dressed ladies and a bustle of coaches. Even more than this strange sight of pigs roaming the city’s streets, Dickens was captivated by the free and easy swine lifestyle—a “roving, gentlemanly, vagabond kind of life.” Scavenging curbside trash in droves, New York’s wandering pigs were on “equal, if not superior footing” with humans—a model of self-sufficiency."