t is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop. Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast. Brushed by ocean breeze, cannabis has taken root, offering promise and prompting the age-old question of whether there can be too much of a good thing.Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county.
The lead paint industry’s efforts to avoid a cleanup bill for more than $400 million has reached the end of the road.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review California state court rulings finding Sherwin-Williams, Conagra and NL Industries responsible for lead paint contamination in thousands of homes built before 1951. That date is when the companies said their predecessor firms ceased actively advertising lead-based paint as a residential product. The court’s action closes a key chapter in an 18-year legal battle waged by 10 California cities and counties, including Los Angeles County and the city of San Diego. Their lawsuit, originally filed in state court in Santa Clara in 2000, asserted the residual lead in old homes was contributing to severe health problems in children exposed to the paint. "It's at the top of our list of environmental threats," Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the interim health officer and medical director for Los Angeles County, told me last year.
The Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether the ordinance used to confine a Des Moines dog for two years as a dangerous animal is unconstitutional. The court will accept briefs Tuesday in the case of Helmers v. City of Des Moines, which concerns a dog named Pinky whom the city deemed to be dangerous and impounded for two years after she injured a neighbor's cat during a fight.The city moved to have Pinky destroyed, but instead she remained confined at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which contracts with the city, while her case worked its way through the court system. Pinky was released in April after the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in the dog's favor by finding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.In a concurrence with the majority opinion, Appeals Court Judge Richard Doyle wrote that "the city of Des Moines has been unwavering in its mission to kill Pinky."The city appealed the decision to Iowa's high court, which will have the final say on the constitutionality of the ordinance in its current form.Lawyers for Helmers argue Pinky was improperly seized from her previous owners in violation of the city's ordinance and without notice or a declaration that she was dangerous. They say the seizure violates due process and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution, which protect against unreasonable search and seizures.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been named as a federal judge in West Tennessee, leaving his position open in the state senate. The U.S. Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm Norris in a close vote 51-44 vote.“I recommended Senator Norris to the president, and I strongly supported Mark’s nomination,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. “He is respected by his peers around the country, having been elected chairman of the Council of State Governments, and has been an advocate and a champion for federalism and for the separation of powers.”
Native American groups in North Dakota are scrambling to help members acquire new addresses, and new IDs, in the few weeks remaining before Election Day — the only way that some residents will be able to vote. This week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify.Many Native American reservations, however, do not use physical street addresses. Native Americans are also overrepresented in the homeless population. As a result, Native residents often use P.O. boxes for their mailing addresses and may rely on tribal identification that doesn't list an address.Those IDs used to be accepted at polling places — including in this year's primary election — but will not be valid for the general election. And that decision became final less than a month before Election Day, after years of confusing court battles and alterations to the requirements.
The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development today announced a public comment period on the state’s 2019 Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs). The public comment period begins now and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 29, 2018. Public comment will be accepted on the following GAAMPs, which have proposed changes for 2019: Manure Management and Utilization; Care of Farm Animals; Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Facilities; and Irrigation Water Use. The GAAMPs regarding the Nutrient Utilization, Cranberry Production, Farm Markets, and Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control have no proposed changes for 2019.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd. It offers an opportunity for swine production operations with a high risk of flooding to convert to other forms of agriculture more compatible with floodplain locations.A total of 42 swine operations from the 100-year floodplain have been bought out so far for $18.7 million.To qualify for the voluntary buyout, the hog farms must be in the 100-year floodplain and must have been in operation on Oct. 8, 2016 or have resumed operation between Oct. 8, 2016 and Sept. 14, 2018.
Previous research on U.S. consumers details how the products they buy and where they make food purchases are changing. For example, in 1990, 80% of food for at-home consumption was purchased at supermarkets; by 2014, that number dropped to 65% (Ver Ploeg, Larimore and Wilde, 2017). The USDA Economic Research Service has calculated food at home expenditures since 1987, and annual data are available starting in 1929. In their calculation, production value or sales is equal to total expenditures. A 2016 survey of 1,000 Coloradans provides an interesting opportunity to explore how food product attributes (including source information) and other consumer issues affect decisions to purchase Colorado Proud products as well as where consumers choose to shop. The Public Attitudes about Agriculture in Colorado survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is the most recent data from a continuing effort that has taken place every 5 years since 1996. This survey asks Coloradans to answer questions on a variety of topics, including perception of the safety of the food produced by Colorado farmers and ranchers, consumer’s trust of information from particular source, how consumers define local, trust of products labeled as local, familiarity with Colorado Proud, factors that are important to consumer purchasing decisions, and consumer motivations for purchasing more Colorado produce. A national survey group,conducted the Internet-based survey using a panel of Colorado residents between August 24 and September 6, 2016.
It may not seem like it, but San Diego County is a farming community.That phrase, “farming community,” may conjure up images of old-timey black and white photos of tractors tilling up huge fields in what may now be a suburban neighborhood. Yet local agriculture continues to be important today.But our farming community is not without challenges. The most urgent challenge is Oceanside’s Measure Y, a ballot initiative that could spell the end of local farming. As president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, I hope to help local residents understand this threat because of the value farming brings to our region.In 2017, farming contributed nearly $5 billion to San Diego County’s economy. Yes, “billion” with a “b.” To get to that level, 16,000 jobs have been created. While the economic numbers sound good, farming is a profession that requires skill, investment, risk and work. Really hard work. Add to those challenges the cost of water, foreign imports and an acute shortage of farm labor, and it is easy to understand why the number of farmers continues to shrink.An additional problem farmers face is attempts to legislate farming through ballot-box planning. Oceanside’s Measure Y, slated for the city’s November general election ballot, is a prime example.With the challenges farmers already face, it would be a practically unbearable burden if farmers in Oceanside are forced to comply with land-use regulations that no other property owner in Oceanside has to follow.
Oklahoma’s government implemented a moratorium on applications to build new poultry feeding operations. The State Board of Agriculture’s decision comes about a month after Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the state and tribe were forming a council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth and its impact on rural communities in northeast Oklahoma.At the time of the council’s formation, the state had issued 41 permits to expand or build new poultry houses within the last year, with several more pending. More than half of those were listed for northeastern counties, where residents have expressed concern about competition for water supplies. Most permits were issued to growers contracted with Simmons Foods, which is building a 400,000-square-foot chicken plant over the border in Gentry, Ark.The moratorium is meant to allow the council enough time to analyze the issues.