Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday vetoed a bill to facilitate urban agriculture zones in Chicago and other Illinois cities, delivering a blow to advocates who said the legislation could have helped to break up food deserts and revitalize underserved communities. The bill would have allowed local governments to provide incentives such as reduced water rates and utility fees and property tax abatements for farmers in urban agriculture zones established at the municipal or county level. The bill received support from both environmental advocates and groups focused on increasing access to healthy foods in urban areas.This spring, the legislation passed the Illinois House by a vote of 86-22 and the state Senate by a unanimous 55-0 vote.
When feral hogs invaded a 1,400-acre tract in southern Davie County, the owners, a Salisbury-based conservation group, came up with what it says is a unique solution: Sign up hunters to settle the score. Three Rivers Land Trust, formerly known as LandTrust for Central North Carolina, has battled hogs since acquiring the farmland between the Yadkin and South Yadkin rivers in 2012. Local people say the hogs were released there illegally a couple of years earlier. The Davie County hogs were ravishing local farmers’ corn and soybean crops, said Travis Morehead, the executive direct of Three Rivers.For years, the land trust has tried to control the hogs by luring them into corrals baited with shelled corn and by leasing hunting rights. Its conservation land manager, Cody Fulk, gets alerts on his cell phone when the hogs have taken the bait. Last year, when its hunting leases expired, the land trust tried a new approach that it says is unique among North Carolina conservation groups. It created a Sportsman Access Programthat lets hunters onto the property nine months of the year.Hunters pay $100 for four “draws” that allow them to hunt in the 200-acre block and week of their choice. About 100 hunters have signed up so far, but the program can accommodate up to 370.
Changes are coming in the way farmers grow, pack, hold and distribute ready-to-eat produce, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) can help by performing a free, on-farm readiness review. Farmers who sell more than $25,000 in applicable produce per year may be subject to the new federal legislation. Regulatory inspections are expected to begin in mid-2019, but farmers can find out now if they are ready for the changes, with time to make any necessary adjustments. To help prepare farmers who must adhere to the new law, VDACS’ Produce Safety Program is partnering with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) to conduct on-farm readiness reviews. This free service is confidential and a VDACS Produce Safety Specialist and VCE Agent will meet with farm management to walk through the operation. A review typically only takes two hours to complete and will help answer most questions farmers have regarding the federal Produce Safety Rule.
The resignation of Lyle Stewart as minister of agriculture triggered a mini-cabinet shuffle for Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. Wood River MLA and farmer Dave Marit will be assuming the job Stewart held for six years.
A previously unaddressed provision of Illinois’ animal care law has caused police officers to hesitate before taking steps to rescue suffering dogs or cats, but a bill signed into law last week should change that, experts say. The bill, which took effect Aug. 7, revises the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act to clarify the right of law enforcement to take custody of abandoned or lost dogs or cats that appear to be suffering from exposure to extreme heat, cold or another life-threatening condition.Although the law’s previous version gave police that right, it also required officers to take the animal immediately to an emergency veterinarian and obtain a diagnosis justifying the officer’s decision to take custody.
As a new think tank focused on rural Georgia starts up, the state’s small-town lawmakers regrouped in hopes of drumming up fresh strategies for growing jobs in districts like theirs. “Everything that we do is geared towards possible legislation that will address the issues of rural Georgia and economic development in rural Georgia, so this is not just a feel-good presentation,” Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who co-chairs the House Rural Development Council, said to the group.“This is to actually try to move the needle in rural Georgia,” Powell said. The legislative panel is crafting a plan for next year as some of the work set in motion this session materializes. Most notably, the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which was created by legislation and injected with $1.7 million in state funds, is now ramping up its work within the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Lawmakers are now looking at other ideas for spurring economic growth, such as revamping the state’s tiered jobs tax credit program that some say causes confusion for companies and puts counties at odds with one another. They are also considering incentives that would nudge cities and counties toward adopting a regional approach to luring industry.
Canadian officials have decided that the country’s cannabis farmers are eligible for federal funding that supports innovation and sustainability efforts in agriculture. The decision in Canada happened as the country gears up to launch a nationwide, regulated cannabis industry on Oct. 17. It’s yet another stark contrast to what is happening in the United States, where marijuana businesses still operate in a system where their product is illegal at the federal level.Cannabis farmers can make requests for federal funds. Such applications will need approval by both local and federal officials. Administration of agricultural programs in Canada are a joint responsibility of the federal government and the provinces and territories.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture began accepting grant applications today from organizations that can provide technical assistance to applicants for the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural operations.
Eligible organizations, including nonprofit groups, academic institutions and resource conservation districts, can apply to assist applicants of three Climate Smart Agriculture programs, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, the Healthy Soils Program and the Alternative Manure Management Program. The programs aim to boost climate resiliency through water conservation, soil health improvement and water quality protection.
The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, an independent state agency tasked with setting milk prices and helping farmers find markets, should review whether it needs greater authority to stabilize prices.That was one of several proposals unveiled Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which studied ways to help the state’s dairy industry survive a years-long economic crisis. The Dairy Development Plan — pulled together with input from meetings with several state agencies and dairy industry groups — laid out long-term goals as well, including investments in transportation, broadband and workforce development. New funding of $7 million for research and development into new dairy products, as well as better marketing and promotion. Economic development incentives of $15 million to bring dairy processors to Pennsylvania. Convincing 244 school districts and 64 individual schools to carry milk in cafeterias.
Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker has vetoed permissive raw milk language in a bill to help coastal areas pay for recent storm damage and instead proposed lawmakers consider stronger regulation of milk that does not undergo pasteurization. “Consumption of unpasteurized milk can result in foodborne illness and possible death due to bacterial infections, especially among infants, children, pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients, and the elderly,” Baker said in his veto of Section 22 of House Bill 4835.“The risk of foodborne illness due to consumption of raw milk increases with the number of people handling the raw milk prior to consumption, and the length of time between production and consumption. As such, it is important that any expansion of the sale of raw milk in the Commonwealth be done in such a way that it protects those who choose to consume it.”Section 22 would have expanded the distribution of raw milk in the Commonwealth by allowing the delivery of unpasteurized milk, by allowing dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk at non-contiguous farm stands, and by allowing distribution of unpasteurized milk through community-supported agriculture systems (CSAs).