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SARL Members and Alumni News

Vermont offers producer growers food safety improvement grants

Vermont Food and Market Agency | Posted on February 1, 2018

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) is pleased to offer a two-roud grant opportunity to improve on-farm produce safety. Approximately $74,000 in funding will be available in each round. This grant is to assist Vermont produce growers to make improvements that help prevent or reduce known produce safety risks on their farms. Applicants must grow, harvest, pack, or hold “covered produce” as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR), and have average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000 over the past three years.* Successful projects will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants until all funds in the round have been allocated. 

NH bill targets owners of trespassing chickens

Fosters | Posted on February 1, 2018

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would make trespassing fowl a violation, not for the chicken, but for its owners. Under the proposal, anyone who knowingly, recklessly or negligently allows their domestic fowl to enter someone else’s property without permission can be convicted of a violation if the birds damage crops or property The law already makes such trespassing illegal when it comes to sheep, goats, cows, horses or pigs, and the bill’s sponsor says fowl shouldn’t be exempt.While a constituent’s frustration with a neighbor’s ducks spurred the legislation, Loudon Republican Rep. Michael Moffett told a House Committee on Tuesday he also has heard from a man who claims his neighbor has used chickens as a “form of harassment and provocation.”“It does come down to property rights, which is important,” Moffett said. “People, wherever you live, should be free from having your property invaded or encroached upon by animals or birds from neighboring property who are not being taken care of.

Walker Proposes $50M In Rural Economic Development

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on January 30, 2018

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing a new $50 million annual investment in rural economic development projects. On Wednesday, Walker outlined plans to re-purpose a former dairy grant program into a new "Family Farm Fund."The initiative would include low-interest loans for dairy businesses, more money for state marketing efforts, and a new college scholarship program for students to take agriculture classes at state colleges.Walker announced the proposal hours before he was to deliver his State of the State address. He said the new money would primarily be used to stimulate private investment, improve productivity and fill open jobs in rural parts of the state.

Proposal would tie Oregon wolf compensation to population

Capital Press | Posted on January 29, 2018

Oregon House Bill 4106 would directly correlate the amount of compensation ranchers receive for wolf attacks on livestock with the overall wolf population statewide. House Bill 4106 requires the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to prepare a report each biennium detailing the change in wolf population over the preceding two years. Legislators would then allocate money from the general fund to the Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program based on the change.The bill is spearheaded by Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, who represents northeast Oregon where the majority of wolves live, including Wallowa County. Co-sponsors include Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass.

Cuomo to internet providers: Observe 'net neutrality' or no NY state contracts | Posted on January 29, 2018

New York state will require internet providers to observe net neutrality or risk losing eligibility for state contracts under an executive order issued Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The new policy aims to protect consumers by using the state's lucrative information technology contracts as leverage over internet companies. It's similar to one enacted through executive order Monday by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and comes as states consider how to respond after the Federal Communications Commission last month repealed its own net neutrality policy.Attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia also have sued to block the repeal of the federal policy, which had banned companies from interfering with web traffic or speeds to favor certain sites or apps. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is leading the lawsuit.

DNR board approves measure to limit manure pollution in eastern Wisconsin to protect groundwater

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on January 29, 2018

The Department of Natural Resources took a major step on Wednesday to toughen standards for manure spreading after years of complaints over polluted wells and pressure from interest groups that have been pushing officials to protect Wisconsin’s most vulnerable soils. The Natural Resources Board voted 7-0 to add new restrictions on spreading across eastern Wisconsin — a region prone to manure contamination of groundwater and drinking water.The action is the first big step by the administration of Gov. Scott Walker to toughen regulatory powers to control pollution tied to agricultural practices, but the measure still faces funding shortages and an uncertain fate in the Legislature.

Colorado governor releases state’s electric vehicle plans, saying “we know that we can have a cleaner option”

The Denver Post | Posted on January 29, 2018

Colorado could have nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, according to one estimate.  Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday released broad plans to foster growth in the state’s already booming electric vehicle market, saying he believes the keys to economic development and cleaner air lie — at least in part — outside of the internal combustion engine. “They say it takes a village,” Hickenlooper told reporters while flanked by a host of electric vehicles in downtown Denver. “Really, it takes a lack of silos to get an electric vehicle framework in place. … I think it really does a great job of capturing Colorado’s vision that we are going to have a network of fast-charging stations, we’re going to be able to address what’s sometimes referred to as ‘range anxiety.’ ” The plan, which largely encompasses previous state electric-vehicle initiatives, calls for public-private partnerships to build out the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, provide a consistent refueling system across the state and Rocky Mountain West and build new relationships to bolster investment in infrastructure.

Washington legislature passes bill to settle water use dispute

Wahkiakum County Eagle | Posted on January 25, 2018

One of the year’s most important legislative battles in Washington state came to a surprisingly quick conclusion last Thursday evening when a water-use bill passed both chambers and went to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed it into law the next day. In 2016, the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision essentially halted development across the state when it determined that counties were not adequately examining impacts on stream and river flow levels.The decision weighed heavily on last year’s legislative session when Republicans refused to reach an agreement on a state capital budget until Democrats could devise an appropriate Hirst fix. The capital budget pays for state-funded development, and the stalemate put a delay to a number of projects across Washington, including efforts to improve schools.Inslee and party leaders were vocal heading into this year’s session that solving the Hirst/capital budget issue was a major priority, and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program that a fix was agreed upon late Jan. 17 when leaders from each chamber met with the governor.“I appreciate that the complexity of this issue required several months of negotiations by many legislators,” Inslee said in a Jan. 18 press release. “While far from perfect, this bill helps protect water resources while providing water for families in rural Washington.”

Ag Chairs Attendee, Missouri State Representative donates organ to complete stranger, and saves wife

KMBC | Posted on January 25, 2018

Missouri State Representative J. Eggleston was in surgery all day in order to help a complete stranger, and to secure an organ donation for his wife, Cathie. For years, Cathie Eggleston has suffered from kidney failure.Rep. Eggleston has a different blood type than his wife, so he's not able to donate his kidney directly to Cathie. Instead he agreed to a 'kidney swap.'The exchange involves three families whose relative or friend is not compatible with their recipient.Like an organ donation train, all three people donate their kidneys to one of the three other recipients who have similar blood types. The exchange allows each to give, and help save their loved one.Rep. Eggleston's kidney was flown to Michigan immediately after his donation on Wednesday where another person's kidney was being donated to another city in the United States. The third city is where Cathie's organ donation comes from.

Feds tell Maine: You can’t ban food stamp recipients from buying sugary drinks, candy

Portland Press Herald | Posted on January 25, 2018

For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipientsfrom using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would “revise our waiver request and resubmit it,” but she did not offer a timeline or specifics about what those revisions might be.In a Jan. 16 letter to Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Ricker Hamilton, the USDA outlined concerns that a ban would increase administrative costs; impose burdens on small businesses and retailers; choose winners and losers in the food industry; create difficult decisions about the nutritional values of allowable or excluded foods; and “restrict what individuals could eat in their own homes without demonstrating clear evidence of meaningful health outcomes.”