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Yellen: Recession Unlikely, but Long-Run Growth Could Be Slow

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the chances of recession this year are “quite low” despite mounting worries that the U.S. could be heading toward a downturn after seven years of tepid economic expansion. “The U.S. economy is doing well,” she said Tuesday, kicking off two days of testimony to Congress on the economic outlook and monetary policy. “My expectation is that the U.S. economy will continue to grow.” Still, a clearly tentative Fed leader has a long list of factors she worries will hold growth to a modest pace in the months ahead.

VT retailers say GMO label law unclear

Ray Bouffard, owner of Georgia Market just off Interstate 89 at Exit 18, is a worried man. Sitting in a small locker room for his employees he explains that he just spent $8,000 on new scales so he could efficiently label foods made in his deli that contain GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.  Vermont's first-in-the-nation law requiring labeling for genetically engineered foods goes into effect on Friday, and Bouffard believes the law might be bad for his business.

Prisons, Policing at Forefront of State Criminal Justice Action

Faced with overcrowded prisons and evidence that lengthy sentences don’t deter crime, more states opted this year to revamp sentencing laws and send some people convicted of lesser, nonviolent crimes to local jails, if they’re locked up at all. In an about-face after a half-century of criminal justice policies that favored long-term incarceration, Alaska, Kansas and Maryland this year joined at least 25 other states in reducing sentences or keeping some offenders out of prison.

Rate of insured improves, expecially in rural areas

States that expanded Medicaid saw a significant increase in the percentage of residents who have health insurance, according to a new report from Health and Human Resources. The growth was especially strong in rural areas.  States that did not expand Medicaid also saw an increase in the percentage of residents with insurance, but the gains were not as large.

Arkansas: New study to require drilling at hog farm

State-hired scientists continued to state that research shows no evidence that C&H Hog Farms is polluting its surrounding environment in the Buffalo River watershed, and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality announced it would commission a study of the facility as requested by opponents of the hog farm.

US poultry faces ‘Trump factor,’ anti-trade sentiment

Anti-trade sentiment among U.S. voters – fanned by rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign – could work to disrupt U.S. efforts to restore trade with China in chicken leg quarters and paws, according to Jim Sumner, president, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.  Pew polling earlier in 2016 showed most Democrats supporting trade (60 percent), but anti-trade sentiments surging among Republicans (with 40 percent calling free trade a good thing vs. 52 percent seeing it as a bad thing).

In Nashville, what should rural look like?

Is the best representation of rural character to mandate fields remain fields as outlined in Nashville Next, or should we foster development that reflects the intent of preserving a rural look and feel?  The owners of Fontanel are challenging a decision by the Metro Planning Commission that prevents them from building a conference hotel on 30 acres next to their existing property.

EPA: Maryland on track to meet 2017 Bay pollution goals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released its evaluations of Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions’ restoration efforts, and Maryland is on track to meet all its 2017 target goals. The EPA evaluated restoration efforts of the six Bay states — Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia — and the District of Columbia from 2014 to 2015 to determine whether the jurisdictions will meet their midpoint 2017 goals.

Food at farmers' markets competitively priced with retail stores

A Vermont Agency of Agriculture study has found that many foods sold at farmers' markets are competitively priced with those same products sold at retail stores.  Among the findings:— 92 percent of certified organic produce at farmers' markets is competitively priced, defined as within a 10% price range, with the same produce in retail stores. — Local meats and proteins sold at farmers' markets also are competitively priced with retail stores more than 57% of the time.

Most top fast food chains have policies on antibiotics

Perhaps now more than ever, restaurant chains are having more of an influence on how U.S. farmers raise poultry and livestock. A recently released report revealed that for the first time ever, Americans are spending more money eating out than on groceries. With that in mind, it’s worth watching which restaurant chains are hot and which are not, as well as which ones are responding to pressures to adopt stricter policies on antibiotic use.  Among the largest QSR chains in the U.S., Chick-fil-A ranked highest with an 87 percent satisfaction rate.


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