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Massachusetts pressured to expand conservation tax credit

A tax break for landowners who shield property from development has a nearly three-year wait because of a state cap that environmentalists say is undermining conservation efforts.  Landowners who set aside property under the state program can get income tax credits for 50 percent of their land's value. A landowner may claim up to $75,000 in tax credits, but the program is capped statewide at $2 million per year.  Environmental groups want to raise the limit to $5 million, if not eliminate it.

Attempting to understand Trans Pacific Partnership

For the next few weeks, I am changing course in writing about environmental issues in agriculture and will attempt to provide some background on the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Viet Nam. The proposed TPP was signed on February 4, 2016, in Auckland, New Zealand. It took seven years of negotiations and needs to be ratified within two years after initial signatures.

European Union reviewing DuPont-Dow merger

The European Union's antitrust commission has raised concerns about the historic merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. and may require more concessions before approving the nearly $122 billion deal. United States, Brazil and Canada are running similar investigations of proposed arrangement. Last week, the European Union's Competition Commission initiated a second review for the $130 billion merger, which was approved in July by shareholders of both companies. The panel will look at whether the merger will reduce competition in seeds, crop protections and other areas.

What’s the future of nuclear in the Midwest? A state-by-state look

Nuclear power was born in the Midwest, and helped fuel the region’s once-vibrant manufacturing sector for decades.  But the Midwest’s cheap power prices and, in some states, deregulated markets make it hard for nuclear to compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables.

What 10 Years of RGGI’s Carbon-Trading Agreement Means for the Future

In August 2006, a handful of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states signed an amended memorandum of understanding that would lay the groundwork for the first multi-state carbon-trading scheme in the U.S. A decade after that agreement, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, has cut CO2 emissions from generation sources in those states by 50 million short tons, or 36 percent, from 2008 to 2014. Nine states currently participate, including all of New England, Delaware, Maryland and New York (New Jersey pulled out in 2011).

COE Rejects Arizona Vet School Proposal

The University of Arizona’s plan to open the nation’s 31st veterinary school was dealt a severe setback when the Council on Education refused to issue a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation, UA announced today. The decision will be appealed, said Shane C. Burgess, Ph.D., the interim dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.  Council chairman John R. Pascoe, BVSc, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVS, told UA in a letter that the school’s plan fell short on five of the 11 standards that colleges of veterinary medicine are expected to meet.

AVMA chooses Donlin as Executive VP

The head of the AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust (AVMA PLIT) has been hired as the day-to-day leader of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Janet Donlin, DVM, CAE, will replace Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, as executive vice president and CEO of the 88,000-member organization Sept. 12. Dr. DeHaven is retiring after nine years in the post.  The decision came days after the AVMA House of Delegates amended a bylaw so the position of executive vice president or assistant executive vice president may be filled someday by a non-veterinarian.

How Rural Farming Communities Are Fighting Economic Decline

The vacant storefronts on Main Street make it clear that the town is no longer in its prime. Like many rural towns, Brookfield's top moneymakers in decades past were agriculture, transportation and manufacturing. While those industries still exist today, each has taken a hit. The town lost an auto plant. The railroad station is no longer bustling. And farming isn't bringing in as much as it used to. This story is a familiar one for thousands of towns across rural America.

The brave new world of robots and lost jobs

The deeper problem facing the United States is how to provide meaningful work and good wages for the tens of millions of truck drivers, accountants, factory workers and office clerks whose jobs will disappear in coming years because of robots, driverless vehicles and “machine learning” systems. The political debate needs to engage the taboo topic of guaranteeing economic security to families — through a universal basic income, or a greatly expanded earned-income tax credit, or a 1930s-style plan for public-works employment. Ranting about bad trade deals won’t begin to address the problem.

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