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SARL Members and Alumni News

N.C. extends hog farm buyout program

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 13, 2018

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd. It offers an opportunity for swine production operations with a high risk of flooding to convert to other forms of agriculture more compatible with floodplain locations.A total of 42 swine operations from the 100-year floodplain have been bought out so far for $18.7 million.To qualify for the voluntary buyout, the hog farms must be in the 100-year floodplain and must have been in operation on Oct. 8, 2016 or have resumed operation between Oct. 8, 2016 and Sept. 14, 2018.


State Branding Programs and Local Food Purchases

Choices Magazine | Posted on October 11, 2018

Previous research on U.S. consumers details how the products they buy and where they make food purchases are changing. For example, in 1990, 80% of food for at-home consumption was purchased at supermarkets; by 2014, that number dropped to 65% (Ver Ploeg, Larimore and Wilde, 2017). The USDA Economic Research Service has calculated food at home expenditures since 1987, and annual data are available starting in 1929. In their calculation, production value or sales is equal to total expenditures. A 2016 survey of 1,000 Coloradans provides an interesting opportunity to explore how food product attributes (including source information) and other consumer issues affect decisions to purchase Colorado Proud products as well as where consumers choose to shop. The Public Attitudes about Agriculture in Colorado survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is the most recent data from a continuing effort that has taken place every 5 years since 1996. This survey asks Coloradans to answer questions on a variety of topics, including perception of the safety of the food produced by Colorado farmers and ranchers, consumer’s trust of information from particular source, how consumers define local, trust of products labeled as local, familiarity with Colorado Proud, factors that are important to consumer purchasing decisions, and consumer motivations for purchasing more Colorado produce. A national survey group,conducted the Internet-based survey using a panel of Colorado residents between August 24 and September 6, 2016.


Why Oceanside’s Measure Y hurts farmers

San Diego Union Tribune | Posted on October 11, 2018

It may not seem like it, but San Diego County is a farming community.That phrase, “farming community,” may conjure up images of old-timey black and white photos of tractors tilling up huge fields in what may now be a suburban neighborhood. Yet local agriculture continues to be important today.But our farming community is not without challenges. The most urgent challenge is Oceanside’s Measure Y, a ballot initiative that could spell the end of local farming. As president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, I hope to help local residents understand this threat because of the value farming brings to our region.In 2017, farming contributed nearly $5 billion to San Diego County’s economy. Yes, “billion” with a “b.” To get to that level, 16,000 jobs have been created. While the economic numbers sound good, farming is a profession that requires skill, investment, risk and work. Really hard work. Add to those challenges the cost of water, foreign imports and an acute shortage of farm labor, and it is easy to understand why the number of farmers continues to shrink.An additional problem farmers face is attempts to legislate farming through ballot-box planning. Oceanside’s Measure Y, slated for the city’s November general election ballot, is a prime example.With the challenges farmers already face, it would be a practically unbearable burden if farmers in Oceanside are forced to comply with land-use regulations that no other property owner in Oceanside has to follow.


Oklahoma puts brakes on poultry expansion, for now

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 10, 2018

Oklahoma’s government implemented a moratorium on applications to build new poultry feeding operations. The State Board of Agriculture’s decision comes about a month after Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the state and tribe were forming a council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth and its impact on rural communities in northeast Oklahoma.At the time of the council’s formation, the state had issued 41 permits to expand or build new poultry houses within the last year, with several more pending. More than half of those were listed for northeastern counties, where residents have expressed concern about competition for water supplies. Most permits were issued to growers contracted with Simmons Foods, which is building a 400,000-square-foot chicken plant over the border in Gentry, Ark.The moratorium is meant to allow the council enough time to analyze the issues.


Irvine quit using synthetic pesticides in 2016, now a farm bill could block such local restrictions

Orange County Register | Posted on October 10, 2018

In the past three years, Irvine went from treating its parks and nature areas with more than 50 pounds and about 60 gallons of synthetic weed and pest killers annually, all the way down to zero. The city now uses organic products with ingredients such as corn gluten meal and oil from soybeans, lemongrass or rosemary. And Irvine is not alone – it’s one of more than 150 U.S. cities and counties that have created “organic-first” policies and in some cases banned the use of specific chemicals that may harm people or the environment.But a provision tucked into the 2018 federal farm bill could block local governments from making their own rules about pesticides, effectively neutering local control over what gets sprayed into the air, poured into the water or sprinkled on the ground.While the rule couldn’t force anyone to use any particular type of pesticide, it would allow only federal and state authorities to place restrictions on them.


Californians weigh making egg-laying hens cage-free by 2022

AP | Posted on October 10, 2018

California voters are right to think they already weighed in on how big cages should be for egg-laying hens. In 2008, voters ushered in Proposition 2, which sought to free egg-laying hens from tiny cages. It didn’t outlaw cages but barred California farmers from keeping hens — as well as calves raised for veal and breeding pigs — in pens so small they virtually couldn’t move.Since then, supermarket shelves have filled with cage-free egg varieties. Corporations like McDonald’s, Costco and Taco Bell have committed to using cage-free products.But a decade later, voters are being asked to revisit the issue with Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.The Humane Society of the United States, the issue’s primary proponent, says the measure is needed to update California standards and to apply those standards to out-of-state farmers selling their products in California. The earlier initiative simply stated the three types of animals must be able to turn around freely, stand up and fully extend their limbs — but set no specifics.A “yes” vote for Proposition 12 would create new minimum size requirements for confinement. It would also ban the sales from other states not meeting California’s standards.


States agree on plan to manage overtaxed Colorado River

Salt lake Tribune | Posted on October 10, 2018

Seven U.S. states in the Southwest that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached tentative agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, officials said Tuesday. The announcement was a long-awaited step toward preserving the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.“We have, after many years of discussion and negotiation, a real milestone,” said James Eklund, a water lawyer who represents Colorado in the interstate negotiations on the river.A nearly two-decade drought has drained the river’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to alarmingly low levels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages major reservoirs across the West, says the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead are 57 percent by 2020. The reservoir has never fallen low enough to trigger a shortage before. If it happens, mandatory cutbacks would hit Arizona, Nevada and Mexico first.The drought contingency plans announced Tuesday are not designed to prevent a shortage in the river system, but to manage and minimize the effects. The two major components of the plans cover the Upper Basin, where most of the water originates as Rocky Mountain snowfall, and the Lower Basin, which consumes more of the water because it has more people and more farms. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are in the Upper Basin. Arizona, California and Nevada are in the Lower Basin. The Lower Basin plan is detailed and specific, but the Upper Basin plan outlines what steps the states would take if things get worse, said Karen Kwon, Colorado’s assistant attorney general.

 


Partnership helps to expand broadband service in Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota

Ag Daily | Posted on October 7, 2018

There are more than 19 million people living in rural America who lack access to a broadband internet connections, including about 22 percent of people in rural Iowa, 36 percent of people in rural Illinois, and 25 percent of people in rural South Dakota. A partnership between Microsoft and  an Illinois-based wireless internet provider hope to cut into those numbers at least a little. On Thursday, the agreement with the Microsoft Airband Initiative and Network Business Systems to deliver broadband internet access to about 126,700 people in those three states was announced.On Thursday, Network Business Systems Inc., an Illinois-based wireless internet provider, and Microsoft Corp. announced a new agreement to deliver broadband internet access to rural communities in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota, including approximately 126,700 people who are currently unserved. Network Business Systems will construct and deploy wireless internet access networks using a mix of technologies including TV white spaces — vacant spectrum that can travel over long distances and rough terrain, including the heavy foliage that is common in the Midwestern landscape. But it will take time, and the projected completion date is July 4, 2022.


Business Council passes Wyoming broadband plan

Wyoming News | Posted on October 7, 2018

During a special meeting, the Wyoming Business Council approved the Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council’s plan to enhance internet access in the state.The broadband council was established during the state’s most recent legislative session through Senate File 100, allocating $10 million for broadband improvement projects and outlining strategies to help maximize funding distribution.


State panel shelves Gov. Rauner's EPA plan to ease pollution rules for Illinois coal plants

Chicago Tribune | Posted on October 7, 2018

With the Nov. 6 election looming, a state panel on Thursday shelved Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to relax limits on lung-damaging pollution from some of the last coal-fired power plants in Illinois.The decision by the five-member Illinois Pollution Control Board, four of whom are Rauner appointees, delays a final ruling on controversial changes intended to benefit a single company, Texas-based Vistra Energy, until after voters decide if the Republican governor gets another four-year term.


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