Michigan farmers can plant industrial hemp this year, under a new pilot program announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Michigan is uniquely positioned to grow, process and manufacture industrial hemp. We are one of the nation’s most agriculturally diverse states -- growing 300 different commodities on a commercial basis -- making it a natural fit,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This emerging crop not only cultivates new opportunity for our farming community, but it also creates an avenue for new businesses to crop up across the state.” Industrial hemp became legal in Michigan as a result of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act that voters approved in November 2018, just a month before the federal government legalized hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts expressed his disapproval Monday morning of legislation that would tax veterinary services.Ricketts toured the Veterinary Centers of American and joined with veterinarians to ask lawmakers not to raise taxes. "We're here today to say keep your paws off of our pet healthcare," he said.The governor addressed proposals in the legislature that supporters said are needed to balance revenue lost if property tax relief is passed.Ricketts said no tax increase would help."I'm against raising all the taxes. We've done this in the past. When I say we, the legislature has raised taxes in the past and all it has done is led to more spending," he said.
Truck drivers hauling crops will have some leeway before getting a ticket for exceeding weight limits, according to a bill passed Monday by the state House. Senate Bill 5883 will let drivers carrying crops exceed weight limits by up to 5% twice in a calendar year. Farm lobbyists said that rain can make crops heavier than expected.The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said at a hearing this session the legislation will help growers during harvest season."This is about farmers getting their product out of the field," he said. "It's nigh impossible for that truck to be weighed so that the farm knows exactly what the weight is."The version of the bill passed by the Senate gave drivers four warnings instead of two. The Senate will have to OK the revisions. King accepts the House changes to his bill, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Arizona students could have a public university option to study veterinary medicine as soon as next year, if the University of Arizona's plan for a new program is approved by accreditors. A new college for veterinary medicine would open and begin enrolling students by fall 2020 under the university's plan.UA has worked to open a veterinary-medicine program for several years, but so far hasn't convinced the accrediting body, the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Education, to bless it.
The Idaho Legislature and Gov. Brad Little have approved $8 million for construction of a state Department of Agriculture pathology lab. The funding is included in Senate Bill 1198, the $70.35 million appropriation to the state Permanent Building Fund for the fiscal year that starts July 1.Estimated cost of the 20,000-square-foot Agricultural Health Laboratory is $10 million, including $2 million in dedicated revenue from ISDA fees for services such as livestock disease testing.It will accommodate recent and anticipated growth in demand, ISDA said. It will have about 50% more usable space than the current facility, a 1965 building shared with the state Department of Health and Welfare Bureau of Laboratories.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Thursday signed into law a 100% renewable energy mandate that the hurricane-battered island must meet by 2050. The Public Energy Policy Law of Puerto Rico, passed last month by territory legislators, directs the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to source 40% of its power from renewables by 2025 and cease burning coal in 2028 on its way to 100% renewables. The signing comes days after a Department of Energy official recommended the installation of a large gas generator in San Juan, but admitted it "may be at odds" with the 100% goal. PREPA's CEO told reporters it is evaluating the proposal in its revised integrated resource plan
Washington's House of Representatives on Thursday approved a 100% clean energy bill, following Senate approval on March 1, making it the fourth state in the country to commit to such a goal. Senate Bill 5116 passed the House 56-42, and will require the state to power 100% of its electricity from carbon-free resources by 2045. The legislation phases out coal entirely by 2025 and requires all electricity sales to be carbon-neutral by 2030.The bill was amended in the House so will still need to be reconciled in the Senate. Then, the bill will move on to Gov. Jay Inslee, D, who released a clean energy legislative package in December, which included five policy goals to reduce the state's carbon emissions, including the 2045 and 2025 goals in the bill.
New permitting requirements for Oregon’s confined animal feeding operations have failed to gain enough support on a key legislative committee to move forward this year. Large CAFOs would have needed preliminary approval from state regulators prior to construction and final approval to begin operating under Senate Bill 876, which was killed off by a recent legislative deadline.The Oregon Department of Agriculture worked hard to contain environmental problems at Lost Valley Farm — a large dairy that went bankrupt after repeated wastewater violations — but the incident exposed regulatory weaknesses that could be easily fixed, said Sen. Mike Dembrow, D-Portland.
Recovery continues in and along the Missouri Valley in Iowa. And in Nebraska – where a dam burst on the Niobrara River leading to the collapse of many Missouri River levees and flooding downstream in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri – the landscape is bleak.As is too often the case, it ain’t over till it’s over, and it ain’t over yet.Governors in Iowa and Nebraska have declared disasters, and Nebraska has already deployed close to $12.5 million in aid to displaced workers, families, businesses, and farms hammered by the torrent of water, ice, and debris.There’s been no disaster declaration in Missouri, where at least two counties in the northwest corner received the brunt of a record-setting crest close to two feet higher than any recorded flood.Now the Missouri Valley is impassable — due to road and bridge damage, and water — from US Hwy 34 near Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and Pacific Junction, Iowa, all the way down to Rulo, Nebraska, and Big Lake Missouri, on US 159. In all, four river crossings in a row are disabled. That also includes Highway 2, which connects Iowa and Nebraska at Nebraska City; and and US 136 in Missouri at the Brownville Nebraska bridge. Those 4 closures leave a 140 mile long transportation gap in the heart of America.
A controversial proposal to allow more home-building on farmland along Oregon’s border with Idaho has survived a critical deadline, potentially keeping it viable through the end of the legislative session. Property within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region could be rezoned from “exclusive farm use” to residential uses under House Bill 2456, subject to multiple conditions.Under the amendments approved by the committee, rezoning proposals would have to be examined by a review board that would issue an opinion to the county government. Homes would also have to be built on parcels larger than 2 acres and only 200 acres could be rezoned for residential development per county, among other provisions.