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SARL Members and Alumni News

Washington cattle industry in searing debate over brand program

Capital Press | Posted on October 4, 2018

Brand inspections, a way to catch rustlers, will end next year in Washington unless the cattle industry fully funds the inspections, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The department says it loses $38,000 a month checking brands on cattle that are being sold. If the Legislature doesn’t bring fees in line with expenses, inspections will cease in July, according to a budget plan submitted Monday.“We do not take this lightly at all. We understand the seriousness of it,” department spokesman Hector Castro said Wednesday. “It would be irresponsible for the department to not prepare for this because the department can’t continue to operate a program that loses money every month.”The deficit has been building for several years as segments of Washington’s livestock industry have debated the scope, value and expense of brand inspections. State lawmakers set the fees, which were last raised in 2006. The department says the fees have not kept up with rising government costs.

Judge upholds North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law

Cattle Business Weekly | Posted on October 4, 2018

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland has upheld North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law. The order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in August of 2016 by the North Dakota Farm Bureau and several farmers who claimed that the Corporate Farming Law was unconstitutional.The Corporate Farming Law prohibits most corporations from farming or owning farmland in North Dakota. However, small family farms are excluded from this prohibition. The family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law allows both in-state and out-of-state small family farmers to take advantage of forming corporations for agricultural purposes. The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have consistently permitted both North Dakota and out-of-state corporations to be eligible for the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law.In a Sept. 21 court order, Judge Hovland interpreted the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law. Because this exception referred to “domestic corporations,” he ruled that the exception only allowed North Dakota corporations to take advantage of it but that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that all corporations within the United States be permitted to take advantage of the family farm exception. This ruling is consistent with the way the Office of Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have historically interpreted and implemented the Corporate Farming Law. “In accordance with the court order, my office and the Office of the Secretary of State will continue to permit qualifying family corporations to take advantage of the family farm exception,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.Additionally, Judge Hovland concurred with the State’s longstanding position that there is no requirement under the family farm exception that a farmer maintain a physical presence on the farm. He agreed with how the State has, since 1982, implemented and enforced operational requirements of the family farm exception. Accordingly, Judge Hovland concluded that these operational requirements in the exception are constitutional.

We cannot neglect investing in rural Idaho or rural America

Idaho Statesman | Posted on October 4, 2018

Earlier this year, the U.S. Census announced that urban and suburban Idaho are enjoying substantial growth. Urban counties account for 75 percent of the state’s recent growth and 65 percent of its overall population, with Boise drawing national attention as the country’s fastest-growing major city. This is on the heels of recent news that as a state, more and more people in Idaho are moving out of rural communities to set down roots in the urban core.As more individuals and families are drawn to urban and suburban locales, our rural communities begin to shrink. With fewer residents, we see less investment in core services and less support for communities. Many rural communities are seeing a demographic shift in which fewer young people are setting down roots, thus shifting the average age of rural populations upward and eventually increasing demand for health care and elder care resources as resident baby boomers move further into retirement.While it makes sense to invest in the spaces that house the most individuals, we cannot neglect investing in rural Idaho or rural America. These communities remain home to tens of thousands of individuals here in Idaho and tens of millions across the country. Often, these communities are home to some of our greatest natural recreation areas and spaces of significant cultural, agricultural and economic importance.

Program unveiled to help Montana's rural communities

Great Falls Tribune | Posted on October 4, 2018

A new program of the Main Street Montana Project will focus on creating economic opportunities in small towns and rural and tribal communities in Montana.  Beginning this fall, Main Street Montana – Rural Partners will start six community partnerships to provide aid and help economic and community development projects to rural Montana. This will be done with support from the lieutenant governor’s office and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney said they will develop partnerships with community leaders, businesses, local organizations and the public in rural communities to address challenges unique to rural Montana and connect communities to share opportunities.

New Iowa law provides more funding to control nutrient runoff

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 4, 2018

Iowa and other states in the Mississippi River basin have been the focus of national attention lately due to soil nutrients that drain to the Gulf of Mexico. Efforts in Iowa to reduce and limit the amount of nutrients that are delivered to the Gulf have been numerous. Senate File 512 was passed at the start of our 2018 legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Jan. 31; it provides significant, long-term funding to support implementation of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The new law dedicates $282 million over 12 years for water quality and soil conservation — $156 million to address point sources of water pollution and $126 million for nonpoint sources. SF 512 does not supplant or change any of our state’s existing programs; rather, it simply enhances our Nutrient Reduction Strategy. In 2017, $420 million was spent in Iowa to further the goals of this strategy. We will now be able to add to that amount, with targeted investments leveraged by a mix of public and private dollars.

To increase farmers’ insurance options, two Midwest states try ‘coop,’ ‘association’ models

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 4, 2018

Residents living in more than half of the nation’s counties have only one insurer to choose from on their state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange. This lack of options is most prevalent in rural areas: 41 percent of enrollees in non-metro counties vs. the overall rate of 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.Could the creation of agricultural cooperative health plans help fill insurance gaps, offer more choices for consumers and lower costs? Minnesota lawmakers hope so, and their passage of SF 1 in 2017 marked the start of that state’s policy experiment with this type of health insurance option. “Farmers can join together in self-insured plans like those used by large employers,” explains Rep. Tim Miller, who helped guide the legislation through the House. By the start of this year, two agriculture cooperatives, 40 Square and Land O’ Lakes, had jumped into the market and enrolled more than 1,700 people.

N.C. estimates crop, livestock losses from Hurricane Florence

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 4, 2018

Crop and livestock losses from Hurricane Florence are expected to exceed $1.1 billion, including $23.1 million in livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.The agency noted that the losses were expected to be significant because the storm hit at harvest time and Florence hit the state’s top six agricultural counties especially hard. Crop losses alone were estimated to reach a total nearly $987 million, NSDA&CS said.The agency added that the estimated toll on animals raised for food in North Carolina remain at 4.1 million poultry and 5,500 hogs across the state. Florence also caused forestry losses of $69.6 million, green industry losses of $30 million and vegetable and horticulture crop losses of $26.8 million.

In sudden turnaround, regulators suspend new rules for New Jersey's craft breweries

North Jersey | Posted on October 4, 2018

State alcohol regulators suspended enforcement of new rules for New Jersey's craft breweries after top lawmakers vowed to roll them back in a flurry of critical statements.The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, said in a statement that the pause would allow it to further consult with the competing factions — craft breweries on one side and bars and restaurants on the other — and potentially work with lawmakers to write new legislation.“We want to make sure that we get this right,” said ABC Director David Rible. “We are committed to supporting the state’s growing craft beer industry, while also balancing the concerns of other stakeholders and ensuring compliance with state law.”Gov. Phil Murphy, who had expressed misgivings about the rules after an outcry from the craft beer industry last week, celebrated the announcement on Twitter."I applaud today’s decision and look forward to continuing to support our vibrant craft beer industry," he wrote. The regulations in question were issued Sept. 21 by the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and sought to clarify what breweries can and cannot do under a 2012 state law aimed at spurring the growth of New Jersey's craft beer industry. Previous guidance was murky or incomplete, causing “significant confusion” about what was permissible, the division said.The rules contained new restrictions, most significantly limiting breweries to hosting 25 events and 52 private parties a year. But they also gave the beer makers new privileges, such as allowing them to host up to 12 off-premises events annually. Breweries were prohibited from selling food, but consumers could bring their own food into tasting rooms.

New grant money available to boost Pennsylvania dairy industry

Your Erie | Posted on September 27, 2018

Low milk costs mean tough times for dairy farmers across the Commonwealth, leaving many with no choice but to shut down. At one time, Erie County was home to dozens of dairy farms; that's no longer the case. Farmers say the business as a whole is to blame, but they tell us policy changes and support from the state could be a turning point. After more than 80 years in business, the barns at Curtis Dairy are now empty.  You can see in the video what the facility looked like just a few months ago, housing more than 300 cows.Dean Curtis tells us, "It hurts when I think of all the years that I put in here and to see it go away. You know, it's hard." Curtis says there just isn't money in the industry anymore, and he says the problem comes down to the cost of milk. "You look back in history; in the 80's, we were getting more money back in the 80's than we are now for a hundred of milk." It's a dilemma forcing farms across the Commonwealth to shut down. That's why Governor Tom Wolf approved $5 million dispersed among eligible applicants. The money is part of the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program.

US Attorney Sues West Virginia Hemp Farm Over Seeds' Origin

US News and World Report | Posted on September 26, 2018

A U.S. attorney is suing a West Virginia hemp farm and others, saying they violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart has sued Matthew Mallory of CAMO Hemp WV, and Gary Kale of Grassy Run Farms. Grassy Run Farms owns the land, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Saturday.The lawsuit charges the farmers with manufacturing, cultivation, possession, and intent to distribute marijuana and not hemp. Hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis sativa plant, but by state law hemp must be comprised of less than 1 percent THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.The complaint says the farmers purchased their hemp seeds in Kentucky and brought them over the West Virginia state line. A state pilot program only allows hemp producers to obtain seeds internationally, via the state Department of Agriculture, the lawsuit said.The complaint also said the defendants indicated they would install security measures around the farm. However, that allegedly hasn't happened.If Stuart prevails in the lawsuit, the farmers' plants, property, equipment and seeds could all be seized and forfeited to the government. His complaint says the federal government could receive either $250,000 in civil penalties or twice the sum of the defendants' gross receipts.The farmers' attorneys argue the Agricultural Act of 2014 protects their right to grow hemp under state laws. Also, the Farm Bill and related provisions of a federal appropriations bill together state that no congressional appropriated funds can prevent the transportation, processing or sale of hemp under a state program authorized under the federal legislation.