A South Dakota State University lab has been working to find solutions to livestock diseases for nearly 50 years, including a bird flu outbreak in 2015. But the building that houses the lab is making this a difficult task. This is where a new bill comes into play. The Senate Appropriations Committee introduced the “State Animal Health Lab bill”, or SB 172, which would fund renovating the existing 63,000 sq. ft. facility and constructing an additional 80,000 sq. ft. building. That will include a Biosafety level 3 facility, which Hennings says is necessary to continue handling dangerous pathogens more safely.
From “cow committee” to the New Hampshire Senate floor, dairy farmers inch ever closer to receiving funds to help make up for last summer’s drought. In a 19-3 floor vote Thursday, state senators moved forward a bill that would provide $2 million to the Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund board to then be distributed to the state’s dairy farmers. The board recommended that the Legislature appropriate a $3.6 million one-time payment for dairy farmers back in October. This was in response to the 2016 drought and associated feed losses, which were compounded by two years of low milk prices set by the federal government. Over the course of 2016, the number of licensed cow dairy operations in New Hampshire dropped from 123 to 115, according to state data.
If it hadn’t been for state cost-share money, Ronnie Nuckols said, he wouldn’t have been able to install 14 fences to keep his cattle out of streams. Nuckols, who farms in Goochland County, is one of countless Virginia farmers who are doing their part to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways by using environment-friendly farming practices. Those systems can be costly, and Virginia farmers stand to lose the financial help they’ve been getting from the state coffers. Nuckols’ fences keep his animals out of the water and protect stream banks, and they allow him to manage the herd with rotational grazing, which replenishes farmland. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 2018 budget appropriates only $7.6 million for the best management practices cost-share program that helps farmers pay for voluntary conservation practices. One amendment, sponsored by Dels. R. Steven Landes, R-Verona, and John M. O’Bannon III, R-Richmond, and Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Mt. Solon, asks that $8.27 million be taken from the Water Quality Improvement Fund, which was created to provide help when surplus funds aren’t sufficient to meet needs. If approved, almost $1 million would be used for technical assistance, and the rest would go to cost-share funding. The second amendment, sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, and Sen. Frank M. Ruff Jr., R-Clarksville, requests $10 million from the general fund garnered from the recordation tax. Of that, $1.2 million would be for technical assistance and $8.8 million for cost-share funding. The third amendment, sponsored by Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, and Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr., D-Accomac, requests $43.43 million from unappropriated balances in the general fund.
Vermont agriculture officials are meeting to discuss concerns about how the Trump administration's immigration policy could affect the state's immigrant farm workers who are key to the success of the state's dairy farms. The University of Vermont Extension Service told the state's agriculture secretary that the state has about 1,000 Latino farm workers, many of whom are living in the country illegally. Extension employees say a total of 177 out of the state's 818 dairy farms use Latino workers. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said the state won't work with federal authorities to carry out border security and immigration enforcement orders as suggested by recent executive orders signed by GOP President Donald Trump.
North Dakota dairy producers are taking aim at attracting a specialty dairy products plant in hopes of saving the declining industry. North Dakota has seen a reduction of 350 dairy farms in 2002 to 86 dairy farms today, losing five since the last legislative session. The number of cows is down to 16,000 compared to 40,000 in 2002. Aimed at helping struggling dairy enterprises, a joint study between the North Dakota Dairy Coalition and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture identified the industry’s best options for getting a new processing plant in the area. Jerry Messer, of the North Dakota and Midwest Dairy Coalition, said industry recognizes there are certain things it cannot do. For instance, there’s not enough production to compete in the commodity cheese market. “We just don't have the volume or the expertise to pull that off,” he said.In order to be relevant, North Dakota and South Dakota have to go into niche production, like specialty cheese, whey or a different kind of fluid milk, according to Messer. Any such facility would be of medium to smaller size, ranging in cost of $100 million to $140 million and taking in 500,000 to 1 million pounds of milk per day. As an example, he pointed to a successful Babybel miniature cheese plant in Iowa.
On the heels of the introduction of a bill in South Dakota that would require retail beef products sold in the state to bear a country-of-origin label, a committee in the Wyoming House has approved a similar bill. A majority of House Agriculture Committee members voted in favor of sending House Bill 198 to the full House of Representatives.
A Utah lawmaker wants to send people to jail for harassing farm animals with drones, all-terrain vehicles and even dogs through a proposal that's unique in the U.S. and has gained an unlikely opponent. Republican Rep. Scott Chew, who's also a rancher, said Tuesday that he introduced the bill because farmers incur significant costs and hardships when livestock are injured.
Earlier this month, Ross Barnhardt and I, along with first-time attendee Senator Bill Rabon, attended the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL) conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. SARL is a group of state legislators and agriculture industry representatives from across the United States and Canada that get together every year to discuss and study issues and policies affecting the agriculture industry and rural communities. I have had the privilege to attend the conference the past 4 years and have served as a SARL board member for the past several years. This year, we had the chance to look into several important issues. One of the more fascinating topics was on creating jobs in rural America. We met with several groups who have worked on setting up state assisted venture capital funds to allow investors to invest in startup businesses in rural areas. Capital investment and sustainable, profitable businesses will be crucial in building our rural communities.
Earlier this month, Ross Barnhardt and I, along with first-time attendee Senator Bill Rabon, attended the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL) conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. SARL is a group of state legislators and agriculture industry representatives from across the United States and Canada that get together every year to discuss and study issues and policies affecting the agriculture industry and rural communities. I have had the privilege to attend the conference the past 4 years and have served as a SARL board member for the past several years.
This year, we had the chance to look into several important issues. One of the more fascinating topics was on creating jobs in rural America. We met with several groups who have worked on setting up state assisted venture capital funds to allow investors to invest in startup businesses in rural areas. Capital investment and sustainable, profitable businesses will be crucial in building our rural communities. We also looked into issues facing state governments in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is a major federal law that reforms the way we approach food safety and is largely implemented by the states. I feel confident that North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is taking the necessary steps to ensure that we are ready for the new regulations, and I am ready to work with the department on any statutory changes they need to help conform to the federal law. In fact, NC Department of Ag Consumer Protection Assistant Commissioner, Joe Reardon, was one of the panelists who presented to the SARL group and is a food safety expert.
On Saturday, officials of the company that owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it will close in May, ending a 146-year run that dates back to a time before automobiles or airplanes or movies, when Ulysses S. Grant was president and minstrel shows were popular entertainment. What killed the circus? There are many suspects: increased railroad costs. Costly court battles with animal rights activists that led to an end to elephant acts - and the fact that some people didn’t want to see a show without elephants.In a press release, animal rights group PETA celebrated the circus’ demise. “Thirty-six years of PETA protests, of documenting animals left to die, beaten animals, and much more, has reduced attendance to the point of no return,” PETA’s statement read. “All other animal circuses, roadside zoos, and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.” But mostly, in an era of Pokemon Go, online role playing games and YouTube celebrities, the “Greatest Show on Earth” doesn’t seem so great. “It’s been through world wars, and it’s been through every kind of economic cycle and it’s been through a lot of change,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Bros. “In the past decade there’s been more change in the world than in the 50 or 75 years prior to that. And I think it isn’t relevant to people in the same way.” Just this week, the circus made headlines when it announced that a woman would be ringmaster for the first time in the show’s 146-year history.