As a new think tank focused on rural Georgia starts up, the state’s small-town lawmakers regrouped in hopes of drumming up fresh strategies for growing jobs in districts like theirs. “Everything that we do is geared towards possible legislation that will address the issues of rural Georgia and economic development in rural Georgia, so this is not just a feel-good presentation,” Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who co-chairs the House Rural Development Council, said to the group.“This is to actually try to move the needle in rural Georgia,” Powell said. The legislative panel is crafting a plan for next year as some of the work set in motion this session materializes. Most notably, the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which was created by legislation and injected with $1.7 million in state funds, is now ramping up its work within the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Lawmakers are now looking at other ideas for spurring economic growth, such as revamping the state’s tiered jobs tax credit program that some say causes confusion for companies and puts counties at odds with one another. They are also considering incentives that would nudge cities and counties toward adopting a regional approach to luring industry.
Canadian officials have decided that the country’s cannabis farmers are eligible for federal funding that supports innovation and sustainability efforts in agriculture. The decision in Canada happened as the country gears up to launch a nationwide, regulated cannabis industry on Oct. 17. It’s yet another stark contrast to what is happening in the United States, where marijuana businesses still operate in a system where their product is illegal at the federal level.Cannabis farmers can make requests for federal funds. Such applications will need approval by both local and federal officials. Administration of agricultural programs in Canada are a joint responsibility of the federal government and the provinces and territories.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture began accepting grant applications today from organizations that can provide technical assistance to applicants for the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural operations.
Eligible organizations, including nonprofit groups, academic institutions and resource conservation districts, can apply to assist applicants of three Climate Smart Agriculture programs, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, the Healthy Soils Program and the Alternative Manure Management Program. The programs aim to boost climate resiliency through water conservation, soil health improvement and water quality protection.
The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, an independent state agency tasked with setting milk prices and helping farmers find markets, should review whether it needs greater authority to stabilize prices.That was one of several proposals unveiled Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which studied ways to help the state’s dairy industry survive a years-long economic crisis. The Dairy Development Plan — pulled together with input from meetings with several state agencies and dairy industry groups — laid out long-term goals as well, including investments in transportation, broadband and workforce development. New funding of $7 million for research and development into new dairy products, as well as better marketing and promotion. Economic development incentives of $15 million to bring dairy processors to Pennsylvania. Convincing 244 school districts and 64 individual schools to carry milk in cafeterias.
Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker has vetoed permissive raw milk language in a bill to help coastal areas pay for recent storm damage and instead proposed lawmakers consider stronger regulation of milk that does not undergo pasteurization. “Consumption of unpasteurized milk can result in foodborne illness and possible death due to bacterial infections, especially among infants, children, pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients, and the elderly,” Baker said in his veto of Section 22 of House Bill 4835.“The risk of foodborne illness due to consumption of raw milk increases with the number of people handling the raw milk prior to consumption, and the length of time between production and consumption. As such, it is important that any expansion of the sale of raw milk in the Commonwealth be done in such a way that it protects those who choose to consume it.”Section 22 would have expanded the distribution of raw milk in the Commonwealth by allowing the delivery of unpasteurized milk, by allowing dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk at non-contiguous farm stands, and by allowing distribution of unpasteurized milk through community-supported agriculture systems (CSAs).
Myriad signs point to the need for better connecting farmers to services that help them deal with stress, depression and other mental health challenges. First, there is the history of the problem: In a study examining various industries between 1992 and 2010, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farm operators and workers had the highest suicide rate. Second, many rural U.S. communities struggle with shortages of mental health professionals: 65 percent don’t have a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, according to a 2018 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Third, many of today’s agricultural producers are dealing with high levels of stress, due to factors such as low commodity prices and decreased farm incomes.“The volatility we have seen recently is unprecedented,” North Dakota Rep. Michael Brandenburg says. The burdens can prove overwhelming for some, he says, noting that one of his neighbors committed suicide when faced with the financial collapse of a farm operation.The 1980s are often cited as a time of failing agricultural businesses and related stresses, but today’s suicide rates for male farmers are 50 percent higher than they were during that tumultuous decade. “Now is the time to start addressing rural suicide and mental health issues,” Illinois Rep. Norine Hammond says.That is why she and other legislators pushed in July for passage of a resolution urging adoption of the federal FARMERS FIRST Act.
The Illinois attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Trump Tower in Chicago, alleging that it is taking in and releasing millions of gallons of water into the Chicago River without having conducted required studies on pollution or the impact on fish. The building takes in almost 20 million gallons of water per day from the river to cool the property's heating and ventilation systems, and that heated water is later discarded into the river.
15-year-old girl took the witness stand to testify against the accused, detailing extensive sexual abuse. David Crenshaw, the clinical supervisor of the girl's therapist at the time of the June 2011 trial, said he and the therapist did not think she would be able to go through with it."She can't even talk to me about the trauma, it's so hard for her, so how in the world is she going to get up on the stand in front of a room full of people and testify?" Crenshaw said the therapist asked.But the girl was not in the witness box by herself. At her feet sat Rosie, an 11-year-old service-trained golden retriever who had come out of retirement for the trial. The case was the first in New York state judicial history to permit a dog to accompany a child witness on the stand.The girl testified for 1 hour and 15 minutes and was in contact with Rosie the whole time, petting her and at one point taking off her shoe and touching Rosie with her foot."To this day, she says she couldn't have done it without Rosie," Crenshaw said.Courtroom canines like Rosie are known as facility dogs, and at least seven states have some type of law allowing their assistance on the witness stand.
New York state will invest $1.5 million in additional funds in efforts to bring fresh, locally grown farm products to public schools in the coming school year.School districts can apply for grants of up to $100,000 each that can support the hiring of a program coordinator, staff training or the purchase of equipment to store, prepare or transport farm products.Since the state's "farm-to-school" program began in 2015 the state has set aside more than $1.8 million to help programs in 164 school districts across the state. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the program benefits students by providing them with fresh fruits, vegetables and other products while also helping create markets for the state's farmers.
A new Senate Bill is trying to make water and milk the default options for children's meals.
Senate Bill 1192 is wanting to make restaurants that serve kids meals to make water, sparkling water, flavored water, unflavored milk, or non-dairy milk the default drink. This bill would not prohibit a person to request an alternative drink but restaurants who do not follow this law would be subject to fines of $250 for the second violation and $500 for the third.Because this bill would impose additional duties on enforcement agencies the bill would create a state-mandated local program. Government agencies and schools would be given reimbursement with any costs accrued.