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Cattle, humans both help taint wells in Wisconsin's Kewaunee County

In a new study of groundwater conditions in dairy farm-intensive Kewaunee County, researchers found higher levels of well contamination from cattle during wet weather events — when manure, rain and melting snow can seep quickly into the ground. But the results also show that cattle in this northeastern county are not the only source of tainted drinking water. Human waste from sanitary systems is also polluting wells. The study is the latest research on factors affecting groundwater pollution in a region where tensions over large-scale farms are the greatest in Wisconsin.

Illinois new raw milk rules get first legislative tests

Three bills introduced into the Illinois General Assembly loosen up cottage food sales and promote farmers markets, but apparently are not intended to alter the state’s new raw milk law. Illinois in 2016 aligned itself with the surrounding states of Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin by prohibiting any retail sales of milk without pasteurization. On-farm sales are permitted under new regulations. Raw milk cheese aged 60 days can be sold under a separate permit, but sales of other unpasteurized raw milk products are also prohibited.

Oregon revenue forecast: State to bring in $200 million more than expected

regon's economy is growing fast enough to generate nearly $200 million more in tax revenue for the state's next budget than had been expected, state economists said Wednesday. That means the state's $1.8 billion budget shortfall has shrunk to $1.6 billion. Although the new revenue will be welcome in Salem, it still leaves lawmakers with a massive budget hole to address. The gap is driven by rising costs in the state's public pension system and Medicaid, as well as three unfunded directives passed by voters in November.

As Trump Eyes Infrastructure, State and Local Leaders Defend Tax-Exempt ‘Muni Bonds’

Nationwide, the “muni bond” market has funded $1.65 trillion worth of projects for cities and other governments over the past decade. The borrowed money has paid for schools, roads, water and sewer systems, airports, bridges and other vital infrastructure. “These aren’t shiny baubles. These are essential infrastructure,” said Democratic Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who is in his second term.

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman will preview at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas before it airs worldwide on Discovery Channel in August. Based on a book by the same name, the Discovery Impact film weaves together the stories of a Montana rancher, two Kansas farmers and a handful of Gulf fishermen who feed the world while stewarding the land and water they work. “The men and women profiled in the book and film work tirelessly to protect America’s natural resources, make their operations more productive and resilient and leave a legacy for their children.

Ethanol, the Key to Recovery of the Farm Economy

The U.S. ethanol industry added $42.1 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported nearly 340,000 jobs in 2016, according to a just released study. The report suggests that continued  growth of the renewables sector is the key to recovery  in the farm economy. Matt Merritt, with POET, the nation’s largest ethanol producer and operator of the majority of ethanol plants in Indiana, says the key to turning the current dismal farm economy around is growth in the ethanol sector, “Ethanol can play the most important role in overcoming the challenges that face rural America.”

Lawmakers renew push for drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

Former U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski in 2001 gave a speech urging colleagues to approve oil drilling in America’s largest wildlife refuge. The Alaska Republican held up a blank sheet of paper to illustrate his point.  The field of white, he said, was all you could see each winter on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, implying that such a barren landscape would not be harmed by oil rigs. Sixteen years later, Murkowski’s daughter is trying again. U.S. Sen.

Unlikely Allies Seek to Make Vermont's Milk the Cream of the Industry

An improbable coalition is calling for dramatic changes to the state's dairy industry. Former agriculture secretary Roger Allbee has joined forces with three longtime environmental activists to argue that depressed milk prices, the need to reduce water pollution, and uncertainty about trade and migrant labor at the federal level present a unique opportunity to reinvigorate Vermont dairy farming. "A perfect storm is brewing," Allbee told the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee earlier this month.

Small farmers play big role in felling Peru rainforest: satellite maps

Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has risen this century - destroying an area of rainforest 14 times larger than Los Angeles - with small farmers behind most of the cutting, according to a new analysis of satellite maps. Small farmers account for about 80 percent of Peru's forest loss, the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), a Washington, D.C.-based research group, said on Wednesday.

Bayer sees pesticides profits stagnating before Monsanto takeover

German drugs and pesticides maker Bayer forecast a year without earnings growth for its agricultural products business on Wednesday, as it seeks to complete its $66 billion deal to take over U.S. seeds giant Monsanto.  Bayer has said the deal, which would put the size of its agricultural business on a par with its health care unit in terms of revenues, would enable it to develop new combinations of seeds and pesticides to compete against big rivals such as Dow and Dupont, which plan to merge their agricultural businesses.

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