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Trump's Harvest Box could leave farmers with empty plates

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 20, 2018 in Federal, Food News

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?

Despite tweaks, dairy insurance program not saving Wisconsin farmers

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on February 20, 2018 in Agriculture, Federal News

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.

Arkansas judge tosses out Monsanto dicamba suit

Politico | Posted on February 20, 2018 in Agriculture News

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.

SARL Members and Alumni News

VA:Medicaid expansion is key to rural economic development

The Roanoke Times | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

Florida legislators eye rural development

Panama City News Herald | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

MD:Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms

Baltimore Sun | Posted on February 20, 2018

Maryland lawmakers are weighing a study of whether huge chicken farms are polluting the air around them — a new front in an ongoing debate over how the state’s expansive poultry industry affects the environment. The proposal is stirring conflicts pitting economic development against public health, and scientific research versus political activism. The poultry industry dominates state agriculture, and its representatives say farms have had to grow in response to the rising costs of complying with environmental regulation and animal welfare concerns.

Rhode Island Awards $3.75 Million to Protect Green Space

US News and World Report | Posted on February 20, 2018

More than $3.75 million is being awarded to help Rhode Island communities and local organizations protect green space throughout the state.The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Friday that 17 projects will receive matching grants to protect 889 acres of open space and farmland.

Trump budget slashes farm programs, food assistance

Agri-Pulse | Posted on February 13, 2018

President Trump is proposing to slash crop insurance and other farm programs by $47 billion over 10 years and to dramatically overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, eventually shrinking its cost to taxpayers by one-third.  The proposals will be dead on arrival in the House and Senate Agriculture committees but they would provide ammunition to farm bill critics on the right and left who would like to reduce nutrition assistance and farm subsidies. 

Agriculture News

Despite tweaks, dairy insurance program not saving Wisconsin farmers

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

Arkansas judge tosses out Monsanto dicamba suit

Politico | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

MD:Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms

Baltimore Sun | Posted on February 20, 2018

Maryland lawmakers are weighing a study of whether huge chicken farms are polluting the air around them — a new front in an ongoing debate over how the state’s expansive poultry industry affects the environment. The proposal is stirring conflicts pitting economic development against public health, and scientific research versus political activism. The poultry industry dominates state agriculture, and its representatives say farms have had to grow in response to the rising costs of complying with environmental regulation and animal welfare concerns.

Senators would exempt farms from emergency waste reporting and superfund laws

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on February 15, 2018

A bipartisan coalition of 20 senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would exempt farmers from reporting requirements for animal waste emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).  The bill was organized by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Basics of Texas Water Law

Texas A&M | Posted on February 13, 2018

Water law is one of the most contentious and frequent legal issues Texas landowners face. As the adage goes, “Whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’.” Texas property owners need to understand the basics of Texas water law as well as their rights and legal limitations related to the use of water on their property. Texas water law divides water into two broad categories: groundwater and surface water.

Federal News

Trump's Harvest Box could leave farmers with empty plates

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 20, 2018

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?

Despite tweaks, dairy insurance program not saving Wisconsin farmers

LaCrosse Tribune | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

USDA declares war on spotted lanternfly, will spend $17.5M

The Morning Call | Posted on February 20, 2018

The federal government plans to spend millions of dollars on a massive offensive to fight a foreign invader already in Pennsylvania’s midst. The invader: the inch-long, black-dotted, red-winged spotted lanternfly. Its target: the state’s valuable agricultural commodities, including fruit and hardwoods.The battle plan: surveillance, control and action to halt the invasive bug from Asia.

Senators would exempt farms from emergency waste reporting and superfund laws

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on February 15, 2018

A bipartisan coalition of 20 senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would exempt farmers from reporting requirements for animal waste emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).  The bill was organized by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Trump infrastructure plan leaves out rural broadband funding

CNet | Posted on February 15, 2018

Even though Trump has talked about the importance of expanding broadband in rural areas, he has not committed any funding to help build networks. Instead, his efforts have been aimed at eliminating red tape and regulation to get infrastructure built.  The proposal, which makes no mention of broadband infrastructure, is meant to spur the investment of at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure, according to a White House fact sheet. Under the plan, the feds would contribute a total of $200 billion over the next 10 years.

Rural News

VA:Medicaid expansion is key to rural economic development

The Roanoke Times | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

Florida legislators eye rural development

Panama City News Herald | Posted on February 20, 2018

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.

Rhode Island Awards $3.75 Million to Protect Green Space

US News and World Report | Posted on February 20, 2018

More than $3.75 million is being awarded to help Rhode Island communities and local organizations protect green space throughout the state.The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Friday that 17 projects will receive matching grants to protect 889 acres of open space and farmland.

Where People Live Shapes How They Talk About Food, Study Shows

University of Texas | Posted on February 15, 2018

Food has been a topic of conversation for centuries, and now new research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that how we specifically talk about food plays a role in our health. Scientists have found that people in healthier cities talk differently about food — that healthy cities (e.g. Austin, San Diego, Boston) referenced locations, such as grocery stores or farmers’ markets, and used more complex language to describe a variety of cuisines more so than people in unhealthy cities (e.g. Houston, San Antonio, Columbus).

Trump infrastructure plan leaves out rural broadband funding

CNet | Posted on February 15, 2018

Even though Trump has talked about the importance of expanding broadband in rural areas, he has not committed any funding to help build networks. Instead, his efforts have been aimed at eliminating red tape and regulation to get infrastructure built.  The proposal, which makes no mention of broadband infrastructure, is meant to spur the investment of at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure, according to a White House fact sheet. Under the plan, the feds would contribute a total of $200 billion over the next 10 years.

Energy News

Bill Proposes Taxing Solar, Increasing Wind Tax in Wyoming

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

Legislation has been proposed to increase Wyoming's tax on wind production and impose a new tax on utility-scale solar facilities.House Bill 118 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Thomas Crank, of Kemmerer. It proposes levying a $2 per megawatt hour tax on renewable energy produced in Wyoming. Currently, the state levies a $1 per megawatt hour tax on just wind power.The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the measure provides that if a company manufactures and installs its wind or solar facilities in Wyoming, the cost of equipment may be subtracted from the tax bill.

Virginia Senate passes utility regulation overhaul

Richmond Times Dispatch  | Posted on February 13, 2018

Despite floor speeches from lawmakers from both parties calling it a mistake, the state Senate voted 26-13 on Friday to pass the utility regulatory reform package endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and spearheaded by Dominion Energy, Virginia’s biggest utility. “Let’s be honest,” said Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. “This bill is being written to benefit ...

Lawmakers Seek Firmer Stance Against Drilling off Georgia

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

While the governor sticks to cautious, measured responses to President Donald Trump's proposal to expand oil drilling into waters off Georgia and its coastal neighbors, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the Georgia legislature to formally denounce the energy plan as a threat to tourism and fishing.Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, serving his last year in office, stands alone among governors of 22 coastal U.S.

Pipeline sues Wintergreen property owners citing eminent domain

The Daily Progress | Posted on February 13, 2018

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is suing Nelson County property owners to gain land for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline, which is set to emerge from the mountain and pass along a ridge right next to the popular Wintergreen Resort.The company, which is majority owned by Dominion Energy, sued the Wintergreen Property Owners Association Friday in the United States Court for the Western District of Virginia for seven and a half acres.

Cruz scapegoating the renewable fuels standard

My San Antonio | Posted on February 13, 2018

Texas Sen.

Food News

Trump's Harvest Box could leave farmers with empty plates

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 20, 2018

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?

USCA petitions USDA to label alternative ‘beef’ products

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 20, 2018

The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) on Friday submitted a petition to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) asking the agency for rulemaking on beef labeling to clarify for consumers what is beef derived from cattle and “beef” products created in a laboratory.

Sessions clears way for food companies to ignore FDA guidance

Food Safety News | Posted on February 13, 2018

Those guidance documents the Food and Drug Administration hands out to food manufacturers and others don’t mean as much as they once did. The Department of Justice has changed its policy so government lawyers will no longer rely on guidance documents to establish civil law infractions. In his memo on the subject, Sessions said the DOJ would no longer engage in the practice. Actions by an associate AG on Jan. 25 made the policy change official.

Kraft Heinz Made Its Factories Really Efficient. Now It Has to Sell Bologna

Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 13, 2018

For decades, Kraft Foods Group produced Oscar Mayer cold cuts out of a six-story, former slaughterhouse built in 1872.The systems seemed out of another era. Workers drove forklifts loaded with giant vats of ham, turkey and chicken parts on and off freight elevators to different processing points. A typical turkey breast required four rides between floors to get from raw meat to packaged slices. Breakdowns could slow production to a crawl. The inefficiency was easy to spot for 3G Capital LLC, the acquisitive Brazilian investment giant, which took over Kraft in 2015.

Cow, Soy or Almond: Which 'Milk' Is Best for You?

Health Day | Posted on February 13, 2018

Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk may all offer lactose-free alternatives to cow's milk, but new research suggests that the dairy version remains the most nutritious option.