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SARL Members and Alumni News

Governor proposes $240M over two years for agriculture needs

Echo Press | Posted on April 11, 2019

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has proposed spending just over $240 million over two years on the state's agriculture needs, such as meat inspectors, lab equipment and research.His proposal will have to go through a Republican Senate and a Democratic House, and will likely be modified along the way.


New bill to help beginning farmers in Ohio

Farm and Dairy | Posted on April 11, 2019

A new bill was introduced April 10 to give incentives to established and beginning farmers in Ohio. This bill will allow income tax credits for established farmers who sell or rent their agriculture assets to beginning farmers. A beginning farmer is defined as an individual just starting to farm or who has been operating a farm for 10 years or less. An agriculture asset is defined as agricultural land, livestock, facilities or equipment.H.B. 183 was unveiled by Reps. Susan Manchester, R-84, and John Patterson, D-99, during a news conference. There is currently one cosponsor, Rep. Jon Cross, R-83, and the bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.


Michigan revisits policy that limits solar development on farmland

Energy News Network | Posted on April 11, 2019

As states consider the compatibility of utility-scale solar projects on farmland, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is revisiting a state policy that the industry says has acted as a barrier. Michigan’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program provides tax incentives to landowners who keep land under contract for agricultural practices for decades. In 2017, under former Gov. Rick Snyder, the state issued a policy saying commercial solar development is not compatible with the program, and landowners would have to end their farmland preservation contracts if they entered into commercial solar leases.Farmers can exit the preservation program under a variety of conditions. However, doing so in most cases means paying back the previous seven years of tax credits plus 6% interest. This has been a barrier for farmers interested in commercial solar leases.Under Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reviewing the policy, looking at both short- and long-term solutions for farmers interested in solar leases. The process could result in legislation requiring solar projects on preservation land to include agriculturally compatible features, such as raised panels allowing for grazing or shade-tolerant crops. 


Are state legislatures wising up about broadband coops?

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 11, 2019

Co-ops offer several advantages for rural communities attempting to improve broadband connectivity. But large telcos don’t like them. North Carolina has loosened its restrictions on co-ops. Will other states follow?


Elk overpopulation bill gains traction

Capital Press | Posted on April 11, 2019

Oregon wildlife regulators would be required to consider elk overpopulation when issuing tags to curb property damage under a bill approved for a vote in the Senate. Senate Bill 301, which would add the overpopulation provision, cleared the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on April 8 with a unanimous “do pass” recommendation.Farm and ranch organizations that support SB 301 say the additional consideration is needed because the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently issues tags based on historical and active damage rather than herd size.


Illinois:Lottery Held To Decide Which Solar Energy Projects Get Credits To Sell Power To Utilities

WIll | Posted on April 11, 2019

Hundreds of proposals for solar electricity projects in Illinois competed to win renewable energy credits in a special lottery. The credits will be used to mark the sale of renewable energy to utility companies that are required by the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act to buy a certain amount. “Renewable energy credits are designed to recognize the environmental attributes of renewal energy, and put a monetary value on something that traditional markets don’t properly value,” said Anthony Star, who manages the Illinois Power Agency, which conducted the lottery, using a random number generator. Results of the lottery can be found at this link to the IPA website.Solar energy projects in Illinois do not need renewable energy credits to sell electricity to utilities. But Star says their chances for profitability would be less without them.


Texas Legislature to act on slow moving vehicle bills

Texas Farm Bureau | Posted on April 11, 2019

When it’s safe, most tractor drivers pull over and let traffic pass. The problem is that Texas law does not currently include farm equipment in the legal definition of vehicles that may drive on the road shoulder. Bills in the Texas Legislature this session could fix that. Everyone is busy and often impatient these days. It can certainly be annoying to be stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. However, a collision with a tractor could change our perception of busy schedules.


Georgia Legislature votes to weaken opioid prescription monitoring

Pew Trust | Posted on April 11, 2019

In the midst of an opioid epidemic, the Georgia Legislature has voted to weaken enforcement of one of the investigative tools used against it.On Tuesday the General Assembly voted to take away the ability of the Georgia Composite Medical Board to discipline doctors who fail to register for an opioid prescription tracking database.


‘Opportunity Zones’ Spur New State Tax Incentives

Pew Trust | Posted on April 11, 2019

Governors helped the U.S. Treasury Department choose nearly 9,000 economically distressed “opportunity zones” where people can get a tax break for investing in certain businesses and properties. But the 2017 federal tax law that created the zones doesn’t allow governors or state lawmakers to steer investors’ money into certain projects. They’re trying to influence the market anyway.This year 17 state legislatures have considered opportunity zone bills, including proposals for additional tax breaks to lure investors or encourage certain projects, such as affordable housing or solar energy development, according to Novogradac & Co. LLP, an accounting and consulting firm that is keeping track.The federal government is expected to announce a second round of proposed opportunity zone regulations any day now, which would give many investors confidence to start striking deals.


Farmers, hunters spar over elk damage bills

Capital Press | Posted on April 11, 2019

Legislation aimed at reducing crop damage from elk has pitted Oregon agriculture groups against hunting organizations that say the proposals will allow for irresponsible killing. The state House and Senate are considering bills under which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would issue tags with more flexible rules for killing elk that consume hay, trample fields and damage fences.Proponents of House Bill 3227 and Senate Bill 301 argue that existing tools for managing elk damage have proven to be insufficient as populations of the ungulates have increased.“It’s like someone coming into your living room every month and saying, ‘Give me 25% of your income,’” said Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, chief sponsor of HB 3227.The specifics of each proposal are different but both would call for damage tags to be issued to “persons” rather than “landowners,” which hunting organizations claim will greatly expand the field of people who qualify to kill elk.


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