Federal subsidies to tobacco farmers in Kentucky and elsewhere will continue next year, even though a majority of U.S. Senators believe they should not. The Senate voted Thursday 52-44 to cut off the payments, but the measure required 60 votes for passage.
California Senator. Diane Feinstein led the effort to end taxpayer subsidies, suggesting that tobacco farmers, particularly in Kentucky, have done quite well over the past decade.
"A 2012 University of Illinois study found that productivity on Kentucky tobacco farms increased by 44% in the last ten years," asserted Feinstein. "At the same time, tobacco farmers are seeing some of their best pay days since the 2004 buyout began."
Feinstein argued the payments need to stop because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the nation. Other critics claim the payments are too generous.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the measure’s defeat a big victory for tobacco growers. The commonwealth is the nation’s top burley tobacco producer.
As WKU prepares for budget cuts ahead of the next fiscal year, another Kentucky university is making plans ahead of its next budget.
The Eastern Kentucky University board of regents has approved a spending plan that includes a three-percent in-state undergraduate tuition increase and no raises for employees. The three-percent tuition hike is the maximum allowed by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
WKU President Gary Ransdell had asked the CPE for a five-percent undergraduate tuition increase, saying it was needed to help the school move forward without budget cuts.
Dr. Ransdell says WKU will now have to look at cuts that will include personnel reductions. WKU vice-presidents have given Ransdell preliminary plans for cuts in their departments.
The issue will be taken up by the school’s board of regents at their meeting in late June.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working on a new kind of project to combat the spread of bedbugs without the use of potentially harmful chemicals.
Entomology professor Mike Potter says the team will attempt to replicate a highly successful remedy used centuries ago in Eastern Europe that involves using kidney bean leaves.
“They found that they could sprinkle bean leaves on the floors of their dwellings and capture bedbugs. The mechanism by which that occurs is through these little plant hairs called trichomes which is a natural defense that plants have to deter attacks by certain types of plant feeding insects," Potter explains.
Scientists at the University of Kentucky and the University of California, Irvine are now developing materials that mimic the trichomes on the bean leaves.
The group’s research findings have been published online in the Journal of the Royal Science interface.