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New 5G wireless will increase need for fiber, not reduce it

Minnesota legislators are now hearing that a market-based broadband solution is near. 5G wireless to the rescue!  Learning that public dollars would not be necessary for rural broadband development would be soothing music to elected officials’ ears as other groups line up for funds– roads, schools, health care, tax cuts; the list is endless.

Rising Demand for Organic and Non-GMO Grains Outpaces U.S. Production

Imports of organic grains, particularly corn, from countries such as India, Ukraine, Romania, and Turkey surged in 2016 to meet the burgeoning U.S. demand for organic food products. Organic corn imports more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 and accounted for nearly one-half of the U.S. organic corn supply. The domestic shortfall for organic soybeans was even greater, with roughly 80 percent of soybeans supplying the U.S.

Washington pot growers seek right-to-farm protection

Washington marijuana growers want to take another step toward joining mainstream agriculture, though their presence may raise questions about taxes and labor law. Cannabis advocates are championing legislation to insert marijuana into the state’s right-to-farm law. The law bars new neighbors from claiming dust, odors and noise from an existing farm’s lawful operations are a nuisance. Outdoor marijuana farms in particular need protection from disgruntled neighbors, the advocates say.

Health Insurance Woes Add To The Risky Business Of Farming

There are many challenges to farming for a living: It's often grueling work that relies on unpredictable factors such as weather and global market prices. But one aspect that's often ignored is the cost of health care. A University of Vermont researcher found that nationally, most farmers cited health care costs as a top concern. Shoshanah Inwood is a rural sociologist at UVM. She has been studying the aging and shrinking farm population, and what components are needed to build a prosperous farm economy.

U.S. appeals court upholds Maryland's ban on assault rifles

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Maryland's ban on assault rifles, ruling gun owners are not protected under the U.S. Constitution to possess "weapons of war," court documents showed.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided 10-4 that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a law in response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman with an assault rifle, does not violate the right to bear arms within the Second Amendment

HPAI woes expand in France, Asia

The ongoing spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continues to take its toll in France and two Asian nations as new incarnations of the virus continue to pop up. In France, the agriculture ministry said all 600,000 ducks in a prime region for the production of foie gras will be culled

Bill would clarify solid waste disposal rules for ag

Western lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act to help farmers understand which manure management rules they’re supposed to follow. HR 848, the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act, would reaffirm and clarify Congress’ intention regarding manure management under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, also known as the Solid Waste Disposal Act.

Severe flooding hits Southern Idaho hard

Heavy rains, warm weather and melting snow have combined to cause widespread flooding across Southern Idaho, with Cassia County taking the brunt of the damage.  Canals and creeks are overflowing, roads have been washed out or closed, basements are flooding and water is standing up to 2 feet deep in fields or causing erosion as it runs to lower ground. “It’s pretty devastating for sure. In the Malta area, there’s 100 percent devastation; it’s incredible,” said Joel Packham, Cassia County extension educator.

Minnesota farm loan program wins approval in time for spring

Minnesota senators voted 62-0 in favor of the bill Thursday, Feb. 16, following House members' action a week earlier. The legislation does not provide loans for farmers to buy seeds, fertilizer and other things they need in the spring, but it does help them pay mortgages and other major expenses that affect how much money they have available for spring planting. "The Rural Finance Authority is an important program and provides much needed assistance to farmers across our state, but it has run dry," said Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, who sponsored the legislation.

NYS Lawmaker Introduces Carbon Farming Tax Credit Bill

A New York state Assemblywoman has introduced legislation on carbon farming that she says is the first of its kind. The idea is to promote environmentally friendly farming practices while, at the same time, putting money back into the pockets of farmers. Democrat Didi Barrett has sponsored a bill that creates a carbon farming tax credit. Barrett, who represents portions of Columbia and Dutchess Counties, says the plan will give farmers a new tax break while helping the state reach its climate change goals. “This would make New York state the first in the country,” Barrett says.

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