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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force. "Our ... welfare reform bills ensure help to those who truly need it, while providing the training and assistance they need to re-enter the workforce and regain independence," Walker said in a statement.Supporters have said that, with the state's unemployment rate at an all-time low of 2.9%, it's the ideal time to shift more people from food stamps and other public benefits to jobs.

Iowa 'sanctuary' city ban signed into law

Iowa cities and counties that intentionally violate federal immigration law will have their state funding revoked under a bill signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday.  Senate File 481 targets so-called sanctuary communities across the state and has drawn widespread debate in the Capitol and across the state. It takes effect July 1. Reynolds, a Republican, did not hold a public bill signing event.

Smithfield Foods Announces Partnership with Anuvia Plant Nutrients to Develop Manure Sustainable Fertilizer Products

Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients are pleased to announce a new partnership to create sustainable fertilizer from renewable biological materials collected from manure treatment systems at Smithfield's hog farms. This project is part of Smithfield Renewables, the company's new platform dedicated to unifying and accelerating its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. The project reuses organic matter found in hog manure to create a commercial-grade fertilizer that is higher in nutrient concentration than the original organic materials.

Citrus Greening report calls for master plan to coordinate research

A single breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening in Florida in the future is unlikely, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  The committee that wrote the report called for a systems approach to prioritize research on the disease and strategically distribute resources for research to effectively manage the disease, which is the most serious threat for citrus growe

Shippers concerned about rail service problems

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) wishes to apprise the Surface Transportation Board (Board) of major concerns it has received regarding severe rail service problems and excessive charges involving Class I railroads that are being experienced by shippers and receivers of grains, oilseeds and processed grain products. There is a fundamental concern among rail customers that the underlying root cause of these service and accessorial charge-related issues is Class I railroads’ aggressive effort to reduce their operating ratios to impress Wall Street investors and shareholders.

Illinois town leases 20 acres of city owned land for solar

A divided Lacon City Council tentatively agreed Monday night.to lease 20 acres of city-owned farmland for 35 years to a solar energy developer that has never addressed or met with the council. The panel voted 3-2, with one abstaining, to move forward toward finalizing an agreement with Minnesota-based Solar Energy Ventures in a contract expected to come up for a final vote next month.The company would pay the city $1,300 an acre per year for the 2 megawatt installation, for a total of about $1.3 million over the life of the contract, said Acting Mayor John Wabel,

Illinois county works on solar ordinance

Work continues on a Champaign County zoning ordinance by the Zoning Board of Appeals that would regulate solar farms. A rural Ludlow Township site is one of two that a Washington, D.C-based company hopes to turn into a community solar farm.

Farm-income losses hurting Midwestern states’ budgets; no turnaround for sector in sight

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017, but agriculture subtracted from overall economic growth in every state in the Midwest — most notably Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. A turnaround doesn’t appear in sight, at least over the near term: U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary Stephen Censky reports that, nationally, farm income is expected to fall 6.8 percent in 2018 (income levels have dropped nearly 50 percent since 2013).Why is the Midwest’s farm economy struggling?

USDA orders volume controls on cranberries

Cranberry handlers were ordered by the USDA to withhold from U.S. consumers 15 percent of the 2017 crop to raise prices that farmers receive. The reduction applies to cranberries grown by approximately 1,100 farmers in 10 states, including Oregon and Washington. Growers and handlers petitioned the USDA for volume controls to chip away at a huge surplus.The USDA projects the order will divert as many as 110 million pounds of cranberries to charities, animal feed or foreign markets.

USDA offering funding to address opioid crisis in rural communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications to a pair of grant programs that aim to address opioid misuse in rural communities. The federal agency is setting aside $5 million in the Community Facilities Grant program and is giving priority to Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program applications that propose innovative projects addressing the issue."The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country," said Anne Hazlett, the assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.

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