A long-planned look at the best ways Washington farmers and ranchers can prevent water pollution has been begun by the Department of Ecology. The review was triggered by criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency that the state’s plan to control agricultural runoff was too vague. In response, Ecology has formed a 26-member committee that includes farm groups, environmental organizations, tribes and conservation districts.Ecology says the committee will look at 12 broad categories — such as storing manure or planting stream buffers — to identify pollution-control measures that are effective, practical and voluntary.
Legislative leaders are pouring more than $40 million into new or expanded programs aimed specifically at helping the economy of small-town Georgia. Fixing some of the economic ills that plague rural Georgia was always going to be a major theme of the 2018 General Assembly session after both chambers committed to dozens of hearings across the state last year to find out what they could do. The efforts are focused on counties losing population and jobs to cities, leaving behind areas with few prospects for economic growth. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, 124 of them had less than 5 percent population growth for five straight years. Both chambers have also backed funding for a Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability and for a Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovations, likely to be housed at one of the state’s universities in South Georgia.In the budget for the upcoming year, which begins July 1, the House added money to increase payments to hospitals handling triage cases — with rural hospitals getting a bigger supplement than urban ones — and to have a residency recruitment fair in hopes of attracting more doctors to small-town Georgia.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has funds available to assist Missouri producers with the cost associated with relabeling Missouri agriculture products for retail sale.
In Colorado, at least two high school students were arrested based on information sent to the state anonymous tip line and mobile app, known as Safe2Tell. “They had a list, they had weapons, they knew exactly what they wanted to do,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, whose office administers the program. States across the country are responding to high-profile school shootings and rising teen suicide rates by creating tip lines modeled on Colorado’s. The programs aim to prevent young people from behaving dangerously, whether that means bullying, using drugs or killing someone. Coffman said that Safe2Tell has saved lives in Colorado, and that such a system could have prevented the Parkland shooting. Nikolas Cruz, the expelled student who has admitted to shooting his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a long record of disturbing behavior but it didn’t provoke a sufficient response from local authorities. A tipster’s warning to an FBI hotline was never communicated to local law enforcement.
Newtrient would like to commend the Pennsylvania Senate for its passage of Senate Bill 799, which will open the door for dynamic, new technologies to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, address Pennsylvania’s growing drinking water crisis and support Growing Greener initiatives. Many factors contribute to Pennsylvania’s water quality problem, including agricultural runoff from Pennsylvania’s long-standing livestock population. Livestock, however, provides viable solutions for the state’s complex water challenges. We know Senate Bill 799 is going to help because it will provide farmers with access to more than 100 new technologies to reduce manure impacts. SB 799 will direct taxpayer funding away from expensive infrastructure projects to low cost on-farm reductions. Senate Bill 799 will transfer the performance risk of reducing nutrient losses to that portion of the private sector, which can deploy comparatively low-cost technologies and have significantly greater impacts. Most importantly, many of these manure management technologies can reduce the nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and other greenhouse gas impacts from livestock manure that are the most costly and difficult to capture by the current publicly financed facilities.
Cargill said the first three months of its Canadian beef sustainability pilot project produced encouraging results, proving the model works and showing significant potential to scale the program to bring a greater volume of certified sustainable beef to Canadian consumers.
Weeds, feral cats, insects and other pests are invading the U.S. West, and state governors released a list of the worst offenders in hopes of helping people recognize and eradicate the invaders before they spread. The Western Governors' Association cataloged the top 50 invasive species in their region, saying the pests have already caused billions of dollars in damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Some of the species on the governors' list have been in the headlines before, including water-gulping salt cedar trees and quagga mussels. Others may be surprises, such as feral cats.
Republican state lawmakers wrapped up three weeks of annual budget hearings by tearing into Governor Tom Wolf’s administration for several hours straight. The crime, as they see it? Making what the GOP alleges is an unconstitutional deal to close this fiscal year’s budget deficit. When they ended a long, bitter budget standoff in October, lawmakers left a $300 million hole in their revenue plan for Wolf to fill with money from the state’s special funds. GOP lawmakers had pushed hard to tap the funds in lieu of new spending, and expected Wolf to reroute existing money. But instead, he filled most of the gap through a deal that leverages the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex for $200 million, and puts that money in its own, new special fund.
New Mexico’s governor vetoed a bill that would have increased the registration fee pet food manufacturers pay to the state. The vetoed House Bill 64 would have raised the fee from US$2 to US$100 for each pet food product sold in New Mexico. The revenues from the higher fees would be used to fund dog and cat sterilization programs for low-income residents of the state.
Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Mike Naig, who had served as Northey’s deputy at IDALS since 2013, to lead the department. The new Iowa secretary of agriculture brings a lifetime of relevant experience to the department’s top job. Naig grew up on a family farm near Cylinder. He helped his father and uncle run their crop and livestock farm and still has involvement in that enterprise.