The average size of a U.S. crop farm has changed little during the past three decades.
However, this seeming stability masks important structural changes in our farm sector: There are growing numbers of very small and very large farms, and declining numbers of mid-sized farms.
In 2011, 1.68 million U.S. farms had an average size of 234 acres, according to our USDA.
However, 80 percent of farms were smaller than this average with just 45 acres.
On the other hand, most cropland was on much larger farms, those with 1,000 acres or more. How can this be?
On Jan. 1, 2014, The New York Times asserted Edward Snowden should be given a plea bargain, if not clemency, to reduce the possibility of him receiving more than 30 years in prison for stealing National Security Agency intelligence secrets.
Snowden's actions caused a national and international firestorm and debate on the ability of the NSA to collect intelligence and communications on Americans and national leaders the world over.
Snowden did not, let's repeat, he did not make public the U.S. could collect phone and other communications worldwide.
Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law first became effective in 1996.
The law required convicted sexual predators register on a database held by the state.
The database would be publicly available, insuring a community would know when a convicted sexual predator lived in their neighborhood.
This was 1996, when AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe were the Internet giants.
There was no Facebook, no Twitter, and if you told someone to Google something, they would look at you like you had three heads.
Nineteen days into winter and, in my school district like others, we have already had four snow days, delayed openings and early dismissals.
For parents with children in school, a level of anxiety exists to have backup plans, especially if you are a working parent with younger children.
For students, these days are awesome.
The University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology reports, in a survey published a year ago, 45 percent of those surveyed in 2012 said they usually make New Year's resolutions.
Psychologists say people who make specific resolutions for themselves are more likely to attain their goals than people who don't.
According to USA.gov, the top 10 most popular New Year's resolutions are:
· Drink less alcohol
· Eat healthy food
· Get a better education
· Get a better job
· Get fit
· Lose weight
· Manage debt
· Manage stress
Not that it wasn't predictable, but the federal government, fueled by new Monitoring the Future data collected by the University of Michigan on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is reporting a rise in the illicit use of marijuana among high school students.
Did we really believe the loosening of restrictions on marijuana sales, possession and use – including those related to "medicinal marijuana" – were to have no effect on those we have worked so hard to protect from the ravages of substance use condition and disorder? Not so much.
Our elected representatives in Washington will be tasked to regulate the price of a basic part of many Americans' diet, milk, when they reconvene Jan. 7 to debate the Farm Bill.
A stop-gap measure was passed to keep milk's price artificially depressed until the full bill is passed, but I wonder how much longer we can trust Congress to regulate a basic commodity, especially when the matter becomes intertwined with contentious bills.
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Christmas is a special time of the year.
Once a year, young and old have the opportunity to develop a childlike heart and to give and receive.
Decorations go up; trees are adorned; gifts purchased and, on Christmas Day, families, small and large, gather together.
Since Dec. 24, 2007, Christmas has remained a quiet time of reflection and gratitude for me.
Six years ago, this Christmas Eve, I was admitted into the VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre due to an illness, not knowing if I would live or die, but knowing the next few weeks would be difficult ones.
The headline of the magazine article captured my attention.
"Want to Live Longer? Volunteer!," it proclaimed.
Like many people we know, my husband and I have been volunteering for years. So we are well aware of the joys of doing something good for others or for the earth and its creatures.
But now, I read, there is evidence of physical value, too. Our volunteerism may lead to better health and longevity, as well as social benefits.