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Immigrants Keep an Iowa Meatpacking Town Alive and Growing

Fierce global competition, agricultural automation and plant closures have left many rural towns struggling for survival. In areas stripped of the farm and union jobs that paid middle-class wages and tempted the next generation to stay put and raise a family, young people are more likely to move on to college or urban centers like Des Moines. Left behind are an aging population, abandoned storefronts and shrinking economic prospects. Yet Storm Lake, hustled along by the relentless drive of manufacturers to cut labor costs and by the town’s grit to survive, is still growing.

Join us for Changes in Agriculture Law Webinar

Webinar: Recent Developments in Agriculture & Food Law: Impacts on States

Wednesday, June 14 at 2:00 pm ET (1:00 pm CT) 

State Agriculture and Rural Leaders is collaborating with the National Agriculture Law Center in a pilot webinar on recent developments in agriculture and food law. Agriculture and food law at the local, state and national level is changing constantly and impacting our farmers, food producers and rural residents.

Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers

Glacier National Park is losing its namesake glaciers and new research shows just how quickly: Over the past 50 years, 39 of the parks glaciers have shrunk dramatically, some by as much as 85 percent. Of the 150 glaciers that existed it the park in the late 19th century, only 26 remain.

Oregon:Lawmakers approve 'roadkill' bill despite misgivings

Despite some misgivings about a "roadkill" bill permitting drivers to salvage deer and elk accidentally killed by vehicles, the House Agriculture Committee has decided to refer the proposal for a vote on the House floor with a "do pass" recommendation. Senate Bill 372, which would require Oregon wildlife regulators to create rules for such meat salvage permits, has already passed the Senate unanimously. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will write the rules, should monitor these permits closely to ensure there's not a suspicious uptick in roadkill incidents, she said.

Elk and deer herds in danger decades after disease discovery

In a pen surrounded by 8-foot-high fences, at a research station by the side of a winding canyon road in southeast Wyoming, stand seven elk that are going to die.The creatures don’t look sick yet. Their caramel-colored fur still covers round bodies the size of small horses. They run back and forth with each other and two bighorn sheep ewes that share their pen, greedily eating food offered at the gate.

Hit Hard by Coal’s Decline, Eastern Kentucky Turns to Drones, Tomatoes, Solar Energy

With coal production on the decline, one energy company is pursuing a project that might seem heretical in this eastern Kentucky mining region: a solar-energy farm. Berkeley Energy Group and a subsidiary of the French renewable-energy company EDF Energies Nouvelles aim to begin building a $100 million facility on a reclaimed strip mine next year.

 

Renewing the Middle Class by Revitalizing Middle America

The greatest test America faces is whether it can foster the kind of growth that benefits and expands the middle class. To do so, the United States will need to meet three challenges: recover from the Great Recession, rebalance the American and international economies, and gain access to the global middle class for the future of American goods and services. The fulcrum for meeting these challenges is the combination of industries and resources concentrated in the New American Heartland, the center of the country’s productive economy.

Changes to Visa Program Put Foreign-Born Doctors in Limbo

Just a few months ago, the future appeared promising and certain for Dr. Sunil Sreekumar Nair. A citizen of the United Kingdom, he was completing his residency in internal medicine at a Brooklyn hospital, and he had accepted a job in a hospital near Fort Smith, Arkansas, a rural area with a severe shortage of doctors.Then the Trump administration announced that it was suspending the 15-day expedited process to obtain an H-1B visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign-born workers in specialty fields such as medicine and information technology.

Maine’s highest court rules ranked-choice voting is unconstitutional

Maine’s highest court concluded Tuesday that the nation’s first statewide ranked-choice voting system violates the Maine Constitution even though it was approved by the state’s voters in a referendum in November. In a unanimous advisory opinion, the seven justices on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court acknowledged the validity of citizen-initiative ballot questions but noted that even citizen-enacted laws can be unconstitutional. The court opinion itself doesn’t negate ranked-choice voting, which was supported by 52 percent of Mainers who cast ballots last fall.

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