The Seattle-based philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to headquarter its new nonprofit, Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations, in the greater St. Louis area. The nonprofit will be called Gates Ag One and is designed to focus its research on helping “smallholder farmers adapt to climate change and make food production in low- and middle-income countries more productive, resilient, and sustainable.” The Gates Foundation press release said, “Gates Ag One will collaborate with a diverse community of regional and international public- and private-sector partners, as well as interested governments, to enable the advancement of resilient, yield-enhancing seeds and traits globally and facilitate the introduction of those breakthroughs into specific crops essential to smallholder farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.” Without technological innovations, climate change could make crops in Africa and South Asia less productive. Gates Ag One aims to work with partners to accelerate the development of drought-resistant, yield-enhancing seeds and crops, as well as other advances such as more sustainable land and water management, more affordable insurance and greater access to agricultural markets.
Illinois receives $20 billion in federal funding through U.S. Census data. This funding is important as it supports vital programs such as Medicaid, highways, and programs that help low-income households, rural communities, and communities of color. If Illinoisans are not counted during the upcoming 2020 Census, fewer resources will come to the state. Illinois is also at risk of losing two congressional seats in the upcoming Census and will have serious political ramifications. Census counting officially begins on April 1. Watch this video to learn why the Census is so important, and visit http://ilcountmein2020.org to learn more about what a complete count means for our state.
State and federal fish and wildlife agencies have spent about $607 million to stop the spread of Asian carp since 2004. As more Southern states try to stop the invasive species, that total is expected to hit about $1.5 billion over the next decade. In late November, state and federal officials in Kentucky began testing some creative tactics to keep carp out of Lake Barkley and nearby Kentucky Lake, including using electric pulses and huge nets to capture them, along with flashing white lights, low-level noises and streams of bubbles to scare the fish away. Kentucky officials have been especially proactive in trying to get the carp out of the twin lakes, a major tourist destination near the Mississippi River. Last year the state partnered with a processor, Two Rivers Fisheries, to sell Asian carp abroad since the species are popular menu items in China. The program pays local fishers for their Asian carp catches. Kentucky anglers brought in 6 million pounds last year. The catchall term “Asian carp” refers to four different invasive species — bighead, black, grass and silver carp.
The Illinois Office of Broadband opened applications for a $50 million competitive matching grant program, Connect Illinois, part of a $420 million program to extend critical high-speed internet access to homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions throughout the state. In collaboration with Illinois Extension, the office will host three webinars to help potential applicants and other stakeholders understand the Connect Illinois program and the current funding round. A recording of the February 13 Connect Illinois Grant Program for Broadband Infrastructure (Part 1) is available here, along with the recording of the February 21 webinar, The Application Packet. Part 3 airs today, February 28, at 2PM CST. To attend, REGISTER HERE.