The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it will override Maine’s ability to run its own meat inspection program unless the state clarifies the law. Maine’s Department of Agriculture is concerned that the law would keep it from inspecting any meat slaughtered and processed in a town that is food sovereign, negating an agreement it has with the USDA to meet federal standards. The prospect that meat-processing facilities like Bisson’s could close, even temporarily, has sent food producers across Maine into a state of near panic and confusion. The cause of the problem is the food sovereignty bill that Gov. Paul LePage signed into law in June despite opposition from his chief agricultural advisers. The bill, called “An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems,” endorses the right of Maine communities to declare themselves “food sovereign,” something 20 communities, including several on the Blue Hill Peninsula, already have done.In practical terms, it means consumers can buy directly from farmers and food producers in those communities who are operating outside of state and federal licensing. The legislation was intended by those who shaped it, including state Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, its sponsor, and state Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, who has put forth numerous similar bills, as a means to encourage local food production and consumption.
State Sen. Gerald Dial of Lineville announced today he will run for commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Dial will run for the Republican nomination in hopes of succeeding Commissioner John McMillan. He said he would emphasize job creation."I have a reputation of rocking the boat, stepping on the status quo," said Dial, a retired brigadier general in the Alabama National Guard. "We need someone to carry on Commissioner McMillan's legacy, who will stand up for Alabama farmers and continue to bring more jobs to our great state."Dial had previously announced he would not run for reelection to the Senate. He is in his eighth term in the Senate and also served two terms in the House.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law bill A.B. 485, making it illegal for pet stores to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits from any source other than a shelter or rescue group. The law will go into effect in 2019. Thirty-six cities in California, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, already had bans on mass breeding operations.
More and more West Virginia children are being placed in foster care because of drug-related issues, and the state is struggling to retain enough child welfare workers to keep up with demand, the head of the Bureau for Children and Families told lawmakers Tuesday. As of Oct. 1, more than 6,100 West Virginia children are in foster care, acting BCF Commissioner Linda Watts told members of the Joint Committee on Children and Families. Watts said the number of children in foster care has risen even since she last spoke to the committee in August — mainly because of opioids.
The Illinois Commerce Commission has launched an 18-month study to explore the use of emerging technologies to improve the state's electric grid. The "NextGrid: Illinois' Utility of the Future" study is the collaborative effort of the ICC, Ameren Illinois, ComEd, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, the Herald-Whig reported.It's a "consumer-focused collaborative study to transform Illinois' energy landscape and economy," said ICC Chairman Brien J. Sheahan. The study was prompted by innovations in technology and energy efficiency, and the push for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper plans to pursue an open position as Commissioner of Agriculture, he announced Thursday, stunning lawmakers in both parties and setting off a scramble among potential suitors seeking to replace him. The decision came after Gov. Chris Sununu approached the speaker urging him to take the role, which will be vacated in November after Commissioner Lorraine Merrill retires.In a statement announcing the move, Jasper said he’s ready to take the mantle.“I am hoping that I can continue the good work of Commissioner Lorraine Merrill and to serve the people of this great state by guiding the agriculture community into the future,” the Hudson Republican said.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture proposes to study whether it should extend its oversight of dairies to include how cow manure is used at other farms WSDA monitors how dairies use manure, but the oversight ends when manure goes elsewhere. The department hopes to get a grasp on whether those manure applications threaten groundwater and waterways.
Residents and tourists driving around Southeastern Pennsylvania are frequently impressed with the beauty of the area’s pastures and horses, but many do not realize the full contribution of the equine industry on the region’s economy. The equine industry spends $546 million on goods, services, wages, and salaries in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The impact of this spending generates $670 million to regional GDP, supports more than 6,550 jobs and generates $58 million in tax revenue. The sector also provides almost $160 million in annual payroll and plays a vital role in maintaining open spaces and agricultural production. John Urbanchuk, chair of agribusiness at DelVal, directed the study. Dr. Sarah Young, chair of the DelVal animal science department; Cory Kieschnick, chair of the DelVal equine science and management department; and Christine Seel; co-chair of the DelVal business and information management department worked with Urbanchuk on the study. The study was commissioned by the Chester-Delaware County Farm Bureau. The region in the study consists of: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York counties. Southeastern Pennsylvania is home to two leading equine counties in Pennsylvania, Lancaster, and Chester.
Wolf administration officials today introduced a new apprenticeship program to prepare agriculture equipment service technicians for “jobs that pay” by developing hands-on skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Pennsylvania will face more than 1,000 job openings by 2027 as current farm equipment mechanics and service technicians retire.
South Dakota has gone from a milk deficit to a milk surplus. As a result, state officials and dairy industry representatives were at the World Dairy Expo trying to recruit new processors to the state. David Skaggs works with dairy development for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. He says they’re looking hard at plants that process some of the new dairy products on the market, like protein drinks.He says currently milk is being exported out of state. Plus, permits have been approved for new dairy operations that are on hold because they have nowhere to sell their milk. However, he says attracting a new processor is tough due to the huge investment.