Last week was a fairly good one for agriculture.

Ground was broken for the construction of a biodegradable plastic plant in southeast Nebraska. This plant will use corn to make the material which will be used for plastic-like materials.

This new use for corn was made possible by research funded by the corn checkoff. It is estimated that the plant will use about 14 million bushels of corn each year.

While some producers may question a checkoff, funds from it do lead to new uses for a product. Instead of thinking of it as a tax, a checkoff should be looked at as the producer's research and development fund.

Also, things in Washington were fairly quiet. And this always is good news for agriculture. Most of the time, Washington is developing ways to make agricultural producers' lives more complicated.

One of the upcoming meetings of the Senate Agriculture Committee's Production and Price Competitiveness Subcommittee will be taking a look at carbon banking and climate change.

Subcommittee members will be looking at farming practices that use plants to reduce the carbon content in the air and store in the ground. Senate bill 1066 directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give carbon cycle research a high priority.

If plants can take additional carbon out of the air and store it in the ground, farmers would receive credits for their work and could even trade or sell these credits to others.

And the global warming talks also should be interesting. As it now stands, it is the so-called industrialized nations of the world that will be required to reduce all practices that supposedly contribute to global warming--which some believe is directly related to their use of fossil fuels.

All of this global warming stuff is based on about 50 to 100 years of information, or what has happen during the industrial age.

What is not known is what caused global warming events prior to this time.

Many, many years ago, certain sections of the Earth, now covered by ice and glaciers, were lush savanna lands. What caused the ice age--besides low temperature. Then, what caused the rewarming that melted the glaciers that once covered parts of the upper High Plains area and even northeast Kansas?

Scientists also have studying the La Nina effect for years. What causes this warming of water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?

There are many things we do not understand about weather, and probably never will. Until we determine what "normal" is, it appears we are trying to manipulate the weather to fit our wants and definitions.--gh.

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