The agriculture industry is facing a workforce shortage and Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration hopes to address it with the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, a proposal that is being described as historic. This multi-faceted $24 million package includes a variety of measures aimed at cultivating future generations of farmers and providing assistance to help new and beginning farmers. Lawmakers hailed the Farm Bill proposal as the first time in generations that agriculture was given some focused attention in a governor’s budget proposal. The package includes low-interest loans, grants, tax breaks and other measures to attract a new crop of farmers in Pennsylvania.Wolf said his administration doesn’t have all the answers to filling the nearly 75,000 job vacancies in the agriculture and food industries over the next 10 years. But he said engaging in a conversation with experts in the agricultural industry could produce some.
San Juan College is getting attention in Santa Fe for its potential in training a renewable energy industry workforce. A bill introduced in the New Mexico House of Representatives would turn the college into a Center of Excellence for renewable energy. It would be one of four Centers of Excellence in the state. Each center would receive $500,000.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pushed to create the centers. Each would have its own focus. For example, New Mexico State University’s focus would be agriculture and University of New Mexico would focus on bioscience. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the fourth center of excellence, would focus on cybersecurity.“I think we were selected based on our long history of working with our energy partners,” said San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass.Nora Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an email statement that the college’s former renewable energy program was highly ranked and considered one of the best in the nation.
A plan to create the nation’s largest research dairy advanced Feb. 14 with the Idaho State Board of Education’s vote to allow the University of Idaho to buy land for the $45 million project. The University of Idaho and Idaho dairy industry-led effort will create the Idaho Center for Agriculture Food & the Environment (CAFE). The project took a major step forward with the go-ahead to finalize purchase of land in Minidoka County near Rupert, Ida.The University of Idaho and the Idaho Dairymen’s Assn. (IDA) will jointly purchase 540 acres from members of the Whitesides family, who will in turn donate another parcel of land. The university will pay $2.5 million and IDA will pay $2 million toward the purchase
The aging of the American farmer raises some big questions: Who will grow our food when these farmers are gone? And what will happen to the farmland currently managed by elderly farmers? Unless America’s fertile fields wind up in the hands of a new generation of independent farmers, they’re likely to become housing developments, fracking sites, or simply gobbled up by big agribusiness. The primary reason young farmers can’t enter the industry is land: High land costs effectively price them out, whether or not they come from a farming background. Between 2004 and 2018, farmland inflation rates increased by approximately 150 percent. While the national average was $3,040 per acre, some states had averages well over $10,000. Rhode Island has the highest average cost per acre at $13,800.
Minnesota House File 811 would put aside $2 million each year to reimburse schools or childcare providers that feed kids local fruits and vegetables through farm-to-school initiatives and would help farmers sell their produce to schools.
Washington Fish and Wildlife may prohibit cattle from some department grazing lands to avoid conflicts with wolves, according to an internal review of grazing policies. The review responds to a wolf population growing in numbers and territory. If the department follows through, some of the 129,459 acres of grazing land owned by Fish and Wildlife likely would be off-limits to cattle.In other places, ranchers would have to sign detailed plans to prevent attacks by wolves with non-lethal measures. In some cases, cattle could be taken off the land to stop the depredations
Roots Venture Group is Nebraska’s first ever 100 percent-focused incubator, accelerator, and venture fund dedicated to launching and growing companies within the agricultural and rural industries, including areas such as tech, non-tech, lifestyle, and tech-enabled businesses and startups. Their focus is to work with founders that are keen on transforming the agriculture sector, rural communities in a sustainable manner and make an impactful societal and systemic change.
Contesting New York’s nearly century-long failure to protect farmworkers from wage theft and other labor abuses, an attorney urged a New York appeals court Monday to bring state law out of the Jim Crow era. “The court ruled that farmworkers do not have a constitutional right to organize, despite the very clear language in the New York Constitution giving all employees the right to organize,” said Erin Harrist, senior staff attorney at the New York City Civil Liberties Union. “Allowing this racist exclusion that continues to leave farmworkers unprotected in New York goes against our values and our laws.”New York’s labor laws are a direct descendant of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which NYCLU argues was altered at the behest of segregationist lawmakers from the South to deny black farmworkers the right to organize.
Companies could produce fewer than 100,000 gallons of cider on Oregon farmland without locating near orchards under a bill that’s drawn fire for potentially disrupting agriculture. In 2017, Oregon lawmakers allowed cider manufacturers to operate in “exclusive farm use” zones as long as the companies own or contract with adjacent orchards.Such businesses must be on or next to orchards of at least 15 acres if they generate fewer than 100,000 gallons of cider a year and 40 acres if they produce more than that amount.Rep. David Brock Smith has sponsored House Bill 2355, which would remove the minimum orchard requirement for cider companies making fewer than 100,000 gallons a year.The owner of a 27-acre Coos County farm, Dan Pennington, testified Feb. 7 that it’s “inconceivable” for his “closed loop permaculture system” to devote 15 acres to an orchard because it’s highly diversified.
State representatives overwhelmingly advanced legislation to legalize industrial hemp in South Dakota, just days after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem asked lawmakers to shelve the efforts this session.The 65-2 House vote came after Noem said in a statement that South Dakota isn't ready for the production of industrial hemp, contending questions remain about enforcement, taxpayer costs and effects on public safety. But House Majority Leader Lee Qualm urged support and said it's time to move forward with hemp.