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SARL Members and Alumni News

Legal challenge to Iowa ag gag law moves forward

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 1, 2018

A U.S. District Court judge has denied Iowa’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s “ag gag” law. In October, a coalition of groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Center for Food Safety, and Public Justice filed the lawsuit, claiming the law violates Iowans’ First Amendment right to free speech. The suit was filed in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.


Senator, don’t tax irrigation water in Nebraska

Scottsbluff Star Herald | Posted on March 1, 2018

Any legislation that would increase the tax burden for Nebraska farmers deserves a quick and unceremonious defeat in the Unicameral. We’re speaking specifically about LB1022, a proposal to tax irrigation water. The idea makes little sense because farmers and ranchers already are paying more than their fair share in property taxes and are struggling to turn a profit, so why has Columbus state Sen. Paul Schumacher proposed taxing irrigation wells? Schumacher is regarded as one of the most intelligent state senators, but he’s casting doubt on his intellectual capacities with LB1022.The bill would create a one-cent tax on every 10 gallons of water pumped from an irrigation well capable of producing at least 5,000 gallons of water per day.The daily total for a 5,000-gallon well would be $5. That sum doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiply it times five wells, and a 50-day irrigation season would result in added taxes of $1,250.Schumacher thinks his irrigation tax could provide needed revenue for schools, which shows his heart is in the right place, it’s just not pumping blood to his brain. Added taxes could further cripple farmers and ranchers, undermining our state’s No.1 industry that contributes $11 billion annually to the Nebraska economy and is responsible for more than 31,000 jobs.


West Virginia Gas Companies Wined and Dined Lawmakers Before Scoring Favorable Fracking Legislation

Desmog | Posted on March 1, 2018

A country club luncheon. A $130 steak dinner. A whiskey tasting. Dinner at an historic neo-Georgian mansion. These are just a few examples of the many occasions last year when oil and gas lobbyists wined and dined West Virginia state lawmakers on key committees that craft fossil fuel legislation. Lobbyists representing industry players including natural gas giant EQT, Antero Resources, TransCanada, and multiple oil and gas trade associations wooed state lawmakers with thousands of dollars’ worth of food and drink throughout 2017, according to lobbying records


Carbon tax calls for refashioning rural Washington

Capital Press | Posted on March 1, 2018

A carbon tax bill in the Washington Senate seeks to shelter farmers from higher fuel costs and calls for investing in rural economies with electric vehicles, public transit and a faster internet to encourage telecommuting. Farm groups and rural Republican legislators, however, have not warmed to the bill.


Amid rise in craft brewing, legislators mull changes to laws on self-distribution, barrel caps

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2018

With the popularity of craft beer on the rise, state legislators across the nation have been re-examining their laws to allow for greater growth in the industry, from statutory changes that help increase production to the removal of restrictions on self-distribution. That trend has continued in 2018, with South Dakota and Kansas among the states exploring proposals to assist craft brewers.


Recently signed Iowa law will pour more dollars into farm-based water quality projects

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2018

Over the next 12 years, Iowa will commit an additional $282 million to water quality, the result of legislation passed early in 2018 after years of unsuccessful legislative initiatives in past sessions. Even with SF 512 now law, Rep. John Wills says, it still is only “the beginning of the conversation [on water quality], not the end” in Iowa. The measure was passed along a party-line vote, with opponents expressing concern that the bill does not do enough to hold accountable those who receive dollars from the state — either through the benchmark goals or the ongoing testing of waterways. No new tax dollars will be raised under SF 512. Instead, a mix of existing revenue sources will be used — for example, money from a tax on metered drinking water will gradually be diverted from the general fund, and, starting in 2021, some state gambling revenue will be used.


2018 State of the State addresses: Nine speeches, nine ideas from governors

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2018

The annual State of the State addresses that kick off legislative sessions typically include myriad proposals for new laws and government initiatives, and this year was no different. Here is a brief look around the region at nine ideas — one from each of the nine speeches from January. 


Checkoff lawsuit prompts Utah to propose reorganizing beef council

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 1, 2018

Utah officials are working to reorganize the Utah Beef Council as the state faces a lawsuit from a rancher arguing that the council’s collection of a checkoff fee is unconstitutional because it supports political speech and lacks transparency.


Wisconsin Sets Another Record for Milk Production in 2017

edairynews | Posted on March 1, 2018

America’s Dairyland stayed true to its name in 2017 as the state set another record for total milk production.


Judge orders California agricultural officials to cease pesticide use

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on March 1, 2018

A judge has ordered California agricultural officials to stop spraying pesticides on public and private property to control insects that threaten the state's $45-billion agriculture industry.The injunction by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, issued late last week, could throw a substantial hurdle in front of efforts by the state Department of Food and Agriculture to control dozens of crop-damaging pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries bacteria that have decimated the citrus industry in Brazil and Florida.Farmers and other property owners will still be able to use chemical insecticides, and the state can continue to use non-chemical means of pest control. But it will have to suspend spraying pesticides on vegetation in parks, school properties and even homeowners' backyards. The agency also will have to improve its public information process, including offering more opportunities for comment. The environmental groups that sued the California Department of Food and Agriculture documented a long-standing pattern of spraying under emergency provisions that exempted the agency from full disclosure of health risks.


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