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  • Trump's Harvest Box could leave farmers with empty plates | Des Moines Register

    So why is it such a horrible idea to replace part of the SNAP federal food assistance program, formerly called food stamps, with a box of American-grown food? First of all, the Trump administration’s proposed “Harvest Box” is nothing like Blue Apron, or Hello Fresh, or one of the other meal-subscription services on the market.  Most commercial boxes provide some consumer choice.  If I don’t eat meat or loathe kale, I can choose meals that don’t include them.The Trump administration’s idea sounds more like Hello Fallout Shelter, with its description of “shelf-stable” milk, off-brand peanut butter and canned fruits and vegetables. There was no mention of any choices for recipients except for “take it or leave it.”Imagine the kids’ excitement when the “Harvest Box” shows up with the week’s allotment of whole-wheat pasta and canned beets. It sounds like a recipe for food waste, which not only squanders money but also poses a serious threat to the environment.  In the United States, food waste equals 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, according to USDA. In 2010, food waste totaled about $161 billion worth of food.Money that should be spent on food would be spent on packing and shipping these boxes of disappointment.  The Trump administration didn’t go into detail on how the boxes would be distributed, but convenience is unlikely to be part of the package. In the Iowa Senate, a bill filed by Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, would try to persuade the federal government to prohibit the purchase of soda and other carbonated beverages with SNAP.Only people with their own money should have the luxury of poor nutrition, right? Low-income people should eat grainy peanut butter and canned sauerkraut and like it! But that sort of petty vindictiveness toward children, disabled people and the working poor (the majority of SNAP recipients) shouldn’t take the place of common sense. Besides, conservatives are supposed to want government to get out of the way of personal choices.

    Post date: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 18:33
  • Despite tweaks, dairy insurance program not saving Wisconsin farmers | LaCrosse Tribune

    Western Wisconsin dairy farmers praised tweaks to a price insurance program Monday but told U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin they face much larger problems, primarily too much milk. Baldwin, D-Wis., met with farmers to talk about legislative tweaks to the program, which was introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill.Known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, the MPP allows farmers to purchase insurance that pays out when the cost to produce milk gets too close to their selling price. But farmers complained the formula doesn’t fully account for feed costs, nor does it factor in the cost of transportation and feed supplements.“It’s not a true reflection of costs,” said Tom Jandt, a small dairy farmer from Barre Mills who said he’s yet to receive any benefits from the program. The MPP was a great idea, said Frank Ponterio, a small dairy farmer from Melrose, but lawmakers changed the feed cost calculations and stripped production limits.“There’s no way of stopping all this milk from being produced,” he said.Despite spending about $10,000 a year for coverage in 2015 and 2016, Ken Wunderlin said he received only about $5,000 in payouts from the MPP.

     

    Post date: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 18:29
  • Arkansas judge tosses out Monsanto dicamba suit | Politico

    An Arkansas judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Monsanto seeking to block the state's plan to ban the warm-weather use of the herbicide dicamba. Monsanto and the Arkansas Plant Board have been engaged in a monthslong fight over the use of the herbicide in the state. The plant board — which is made up of farmers, agricultural business representatives, pesticide officials and weed scientists — voted last year to prohibit the use of the herbicide from April 16 through Oct. 31 after widespread complaints from farmers that the herbicide drifted from neighboring fields and damaged their crops.In response, Monsanto not only sued the board, but also sued the board's 13 members individually. Arkansas lawmakers, however, upheld the plant board's decision in January.The Pulaski County Circuit Court judge threw out the case based on an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that makes it difficult to sue state agencies."We are disappointed in the court’s decision to dismiss our legal challenge of the plant board’s restrictions, and we will consider additional legal steps that might be appropriate," Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy for Monsanto, said in a statement. "We look forward to the day when Arkansas growers can benefit from the latest weed-control technology on the market."

    Post date: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 18:27
  • VA:Medicaid expansion is key to rural economic development | The Roanoke Times

    Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve opportunity in rural Virginia. We can invest in workforce development training. We can expand Medicaid and improve access to broadband internet; improve the quality of our schools and ensure Virginia kids can access our best universities; make Virginia a place people want to build businesses; upgrade our infrastructure, like our roads and bridges; and address the opioid epidemic head on.Building out our rural broadband infrastructure is critical. Broadband is the new electricity, an essential connection for rural communities. It will help attract and keep new businesses, and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses.Our community colleges and higher education institutions should be laser-focused on setting people up for jobs that local employers need to fill right now, particularly in rural communities.We need to expand Medicaid to provide health care access to up to 400,000 more Virginians, many of them in rural areas, while helping rural hospitals. It is simply unjust that there are people in Buchanan County who don’t have health insurance, but if they moved across the border to West Virginia or Kentucky, they could get the health care access that everyone deserves.Expanding Medicaid would also help our fight against the opioid epidemic, providing millions of dollars a year for treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. This epidemic is a problem statewide, but it is significantly more difficult to get treatment in rural areas where providers are likely to be a long drive away.

    Post date: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 06:21
  • Florida legislators eye rural development | Panama City News Herald

    Senate Bill 1496 would increase the maximum state grants for rural economic development in a “rural area of opportunity” from $150,000 to $250,000.

    Post date: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 06:19

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Gleanings

Talk to your governor about the Opportunity Zones in your state

30 January, 2018

Qualified Opportunity Zones in the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017

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Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  

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Farm

Are corporations taking over America’s food supply?

15 March, 2016

Family farms.  The foundation of America’s food security.  According to the USDA, 97 percent of farms are family farms, and they grow 90 percent of the food produced. But national policies to keep food affordable (American’s spend less than 7 percent of their paycheck for food) and the boom and bust cycles of farming have resulted in larger, more concentrated farming practices. 

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