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SARL Members and Alumni News

California Votes on More Space for Farm Animals ... Again

KQED | Posted on October 25, 2018

California voters will soon decide whether to ban the sale of meat and eggs from farm animals raised in cages. A November ballot measure, Proposition 12, would require more spacious digs for pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens.If you're experiencing a bit of déjà vu right now, it makes sense.Back in 2008, voters overwhelmingly passed a strikingly similar animal welfare law. It won by 63-47 percent, losing in Central Valley farm counties, but passing in Los Angeles and Bay Area urban communities by as much as 70 percent or more.After the 2008 law took effect, state agriculture officials ruled that farmers could comply with the law without getting rid of their cages as long as they provided more space within them.Hilliker met the law's requirements by moving half of his chickens out of cages, which increased the net space for those remaining.To end confinement altogether, the Human Society sponsored Proposition 12.Proposition 12 requires each farm animal to have a specific amount of floor space beginning in 2020: 43 square feet for a veal calf; 24 square feet for a breeding pig; and 1 square foot for an egg-laying hen. Cage-free conditions will be mandatory for hens by 2022. 

Ohio SARL member working on Ohio school funding fix

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on October 25, 2018

Ohio’s lowest-performing districts, with a performance index score under 70, had eight times as many low-income students on average as districts with scores over 100. Low income is defined as “economically disadvantaged” students with family income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level — $38,443 for a family of three. “There is stuff we know to do, and it takes money,” Fleeter said, pointing to universal preschool, summer programs and extended school days. “We need to get outside the box that school is six hours a day for 180 days of the year and it starts when you turn 5. If we keep trying that, we should not be surprised when, year after year, we find this (achievement gap).”But undertaking such a substantive revamp in most districts likely means a change in the way Ohio funds schools. An informal workgroup of school superintendents and treasurers, led by Reps. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, has been meeting for nearly a year trying to craft changes to the state funding formula.The group plans to roll out recommendations in late November, in time for consideration in the next two-year budget.Asked what the major problem is with the current formula, developed by Gov. John Kasich and modified by lawmakers over six years, Cupp said, “What isn’t the problem with it?”“This is a recession-era formula when the legislature was struggling to figure out how to keep things going with a lot less money,” Cupp said. “It’s sort of been patched ever since. It’s almost more patch than formula.”  Cupp and Patterson agree that a main flaw is base funding that isn’t tied to anything. Kasich never tried to determine the cost of an education, arguing that there was no magic number.

New Iowa law changes process for partitioning estates; goal is to help ‘save family farms’

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 25, 2018

It is too common a story line in farm country: The parents pass away, and the entire farm has to be sold to resolve inheritance disputes. In many states, when heirs can’t agree on how to split the property, one common option for a judge is to order a “partition by sale,” with the money then proportionally divided among them. 
But what if one of the family members would like to continue farming the land? “Partition by sale” doesn’t account for this desire among some heirs — a concern that led Iowa legislators to pass SF 2175 this year. “It is a bill to save family farms,” Rep. Lee Hein says of the new law, which took effect in July.Here is how the new partition process will work. First, when disagreements exist among heirs of an Iowa farm, a court-appointed “referee” will establish the value of the land. The determination of fair market value must be completed by three disinterested, knowledgeable appraisers. Each heir will then have 30 days to object to the appraisal, as well as have the chance to buy out other family members, without having to put the property up for sale.SF 2175 was passed unanimously by the Iowa House and with only one dissenting vote in the Senate.

Two more leave as Ohio Governor Kasich makes final stand on limiting Lake Erie algae

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on October 25, 2018

With less than three months remaining in office, a frustrated Ohio Gov. John Kasich is making a final stand in his bid to rid Lake Erie of algae blooms. The governor fired Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels on Friday,and followed with a swipe at fellow Republicans in the General Assembly on Tuesday over their opposition to his move for more dramatic action to clean the lake of sickly green algae that imperils drinking water and recreation.The departures at the top of the Agriculture Department were not limited to Daniels.After Daniels was fired, deputy director Janelle Mead and chief legal counsel Dustin Calhoun submitted their resignations effective Nov. 1. Mead joined the department in 2011 and oversaw legislative, communication and marketing efforts. Calhoun joined the department as its top lawyer in 2016 after serving as chief counsel at the Department of Youth Services.Kasich issued an executive order in July, asking that eight watersheds that drain into western Lake Erie be declared in distress to allow tougher limits to be imposed on farmers’ use of fertilizers that ultimately drain into the lake and fuel algae blooms. A state panel has yet to act on his request, but could vote Nov. 1.

Gerrymandering: The secret issue Ohio will vote on in the midterm election

Cincinnati Enquirer | Posted on October 25, 2018

Most Ohio voters are thinking about the economy or health care when they cast their ballots in the midterm election.But there’s another big issue looming in the background: whether Ohio’s district maps will be gerrymandered for another decade.Yes, Ohio already voted for redistricting reform -- twice. But politicians will still be in charge and have the final say on maps that will shape Ohio's political landscape for many years.Whoever is elected governor, secretary of state and auditor will be part of a new seven-member panel drawing Statehouse district lines in 2021.

Farmers in Hawaii lost $28M because of volcano

Insurance Journal | Posted on October 24, 2018

A survey of Big Island farmers has found that they suffered nearly $28 million in damages because of the months-long eruption earlier this year of the Kilauea volcano, the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported. The survey of 46 farmers by University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources found they collectively lost an estimated $27.9 million in destroyed property, the newspaper reported.Of the total damages reported, nearly two thirds, $17 million, was damage to crops, while destroyed land, buildings and inventory accounted for $4.1 million, $3.3 million and $3 million in losses, respectively, the Herald Tribune reported.The survey found that $13.3 million of the reported damages were from the floriculture industry, with another $6.5 from the papaya industry and $2.5 from the macadamia nut industry.

Kansas Forest Service, fire officials say state’s wildfire suppression capabilities inadequate

High Plains Journal | Posted on October 17, 2018

An audit of state agency responses to two recent wildfires in Kansas showed that the state’s wildfire suppression training and mitigation programs do not sufficiently prepare the state for wildfire response, according to Kansas State Forester, Larry Biles and Fire Management Officer, Mark Neely. They spoke before the state’s legislative budget committee on Oct. 3 in Topeka. “We are encouraged to see the legislature focus on what is the state’s most rapidly growing hazards – wildfires,” said Biles. Biles and Neely provided a review of the opinion from the Kansas Forest Service and KFS Advisory Council on the Legislative Post Audit on wildfire suppression in the state. 

His farm is buried under lava, but he can’t find relief from payments on his state agricultural loan

Hawaii News Now | Posted on October 17, 2018

A Big Island farmer whose fields are buried under lava says the state is still requiring him pay off a $22,000 loan on the land — even though he’s not allowed to step foot on the property.“The state of Hawaii sanctioned me to farm in lava zone 1. They knew I was in lava zone 1. They financed me," said farmer Gregg Adams, who owns Dragon Fruit Farms — about a mile beyond the checkpoint on Highway 132.“They had a vested interest in me. Now they’re saying, ‘Oh well, you still own the money.’”Despite losing everything, Adams says he’s ready to start farming some place new.However, he says a lack of help has made it all but impossible. Adams has gotten a $34,000 from FEMA to help cover the loss of his home, but has gotten nothing to help cover the loss of his farm.“May 26th is when the lava took my farm,” Adams said.“I lost my home. I lost green houses. I lost packing sheds. I lost all my equipment.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says hunter ‘tainted’ Idaho’s reputation. ‘This is not us.’

Idaho Statesman | Posted on October 17, 2018

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said Tuesday that former Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer’s hunting photos “tainted” Idaho’s reputation as they drew criticism from around the world. Fischer resigned Monday at Otter’s request — three days after the Idaho Statesman first reported that several former Fish and Game commissioners disapproved of Fischer’s photos.“We’d like to get this behind us,” Otter said, “because this is not us.”Fischer emailed more than 100 friends and colleagues last month with pictures and descriptions from the hunting kills he and his wife made on a trip to Namibia. The first photo has been the focus of many — an image of Fischer smiling behind four baboons he shot, including a juvenile. He called the animals a “family of baboons” in his email.

North Carolina lawmakers approve $400M in Florence spending

AP News | Posted on October 17, 2018

The sharp partisanship that’s typified North Carolina’s government was buried temporarily on Monday as legislators approved spending $400 million to quickly help people and communities reeling from flooding left by Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs. The emergency spending plan unveiled a month after Florence slammed into the state would help farmers and fishermen who suffered economic losses, keep college students in school despite storm-related setbacks, and repair damaged school buildings.Most of the money would come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in rainy-day funds, and this year’s state budget left $560 million unspent.“There’ll be no tax increases and no interruptions or disruptions from a budgetary perspective of any of our existing important programs,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Raleigh-area Republican who heads the House budget-writing committee.The Florence relief spending legislators have promised so far represents about a half of the $1.5 billion Gov. Roy Cooper’s office estimated last week will be needed over a five-year recovery.