The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, an independent state agency tasked with setting milk prices and helping farmers find markets, should review whether it needs greater authority to stabilize prices.That was one of several proposals unveiled Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which studied ways to help the state’s dairy industry survive a years-long economic crisis. The Dairy Development Plan — pulled together with input from meetings with several state agencies and dairy industry groups — laid out long-term goals as well, including investments in transportation, broadband and workforce development. New funding of $7 million for research and development into new dairy products, as well as better marketing and promotion. Economic development incentives of $15 million to bring dairy processors to Pennsylvania. Convincing 244 school districts and 64 individual schools to carry milk in cafeterias.
Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker has vetoed permissive raw milk language in a bill to help coastal areas pay for recent storm damage and instead proposed lawmakers consider stronger regulation of milk that does not undergo pasteurization. “Consumption of unpasteurized milk can result in foodborne illness and possible death due to bacterial infections, especially among infants, children, pregnant women, immunosuppressed patients, and the elderly,” Baker said in his veto of Section 22 of House Bill 4835.“The risk of foodborne illness due to consumption of raw milk increases with the number of people handling the raw milk prior to consumption, and the length of time between production and consumption. As such, it is important that any expansion of the sale of raw milk in the Commonwealth be done in such a way that it protects those who choose to consume it.”Section 22 would have expanded the distribution of raw milk in the Commonwealth by allowing the delivery of unpasteurized milk, by allowing dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk at non-contiguous farm stands, and by allowing distribution of unpasteurized milk through community-supported agriculture systems (CSAs).
Myriad signs point to the need for better connecting farmers to services that help them deal with stress, depression and other mental health challenges. First, there is the history of the problem: In a study examining various industries between 1992 and 2010, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farm operators and workers had the highest suicide rate. Second, many rural U.S. communities struggle with shortages of mental health professionals: 65 percent don’t have a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, according to a 2018 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Third, many of today’s agricultural producers are dealing with high levels of stress, due to factors such as low commodity prices and decreased farm incomes.“The volatility we have seen recently is unprecedented,” North Dakota Rep. Michael Brandenburg says. The burdens can prove overwhelming for some, he says, noting that one of his neighbors committed suicide when faced with the financial collapse of a farm operation.The 1980s are often cited as a time of failing agricultural businesses and related stresses, but today’s suicide rates for male farmers are 50 percent higher than they were during that tumultuous decade. “Now is the time to start addressing rural suicide and mental health issues,” Illinois Rep. Norine Hammond says.That is why she and other legislators pushed in July for passage of a resolution urging adoption of the federal FARMERS FIRST Act.
The Illinois attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Trump Tower in Chicago, alleging that it is taking in and releasing millions of gallons of water into the Chicago River without having conducted required studies on pollution or the impact on fish. The building takes in almost 20 million gallons of water per day from the river to cool the property's heating and ventilation systems, and that heated water is later discarded into the river.
15-year-old girl took the witness stand to testify against the accused, detailing extensive sexual abuse. David Crenshaw, the clinical supervisor of the girl's therapist at the time of the June 2011 trial, said he and the therapist did not think she would be able to go through with it."She can't even talk to me about the trauma, it's so hard for her, so how in the world is she going to get up on the stand in front of a room full of people and testify?" Crenshaw said the therapist asked.But the girl was not in the witness box by herself. At her feet sat Rosie, an 11-year-old service-trained golden retriever who had come out of retirement for the trial. The case was the first in New York state judicial history to permit a dog to accompany a child witness on the stand.The girl testified for 1 hour and 15 minutes and was in contact with Rosie the whole time, petting her and at one point taking off her shoe and touching Rosie with her foot."To this day, she says she couldn't have done it without Rosie," Crenshaw said.Courtroom canines like Rosie are known as facility dogs, and at least seven states have some type of law allowing their assistance on the witness stand.
New York state will invest $1.5 million in additional funds in efforts to bring fresh, locally grown farm products to public schools in the coming school year.School districts can apply for grants of up to $100,000 each that can support the hiring of a program coordinator, staff training or the purchase of equipment to store, prepare or transport farm products.Since the state's "farm-to-school" program began in 2015 the state has set aside more than $1.8 million to help programs in 164 school districts across the state. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the program benefits students by providing them with fresh fruits, vegetables and other products while also helping create markets for the state's farmers.
A new Senate Bill is trying to make water and milk the default options for children's meals.
Senate Bill 1192 is wanting to make restaurants that serve kids meals to make water, sparkling water, flavored water, unflavored milk, or non-dairy milk the default drink. This bill would not prohibit a person to request an alternative drink but restaurants who do not follow this law would be subject to fines of $250 for the second violation and $500 for the third.Because this bill would impose additional duties on enforcement agencies the bill would create a state-mandated local program. Government agencies and schools would be given reimbursement with any costs accrued.
Launched in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) competitive grant program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin’s agricultural and food industries by working to reduce the marketing, distribution, and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of sales of Wisconsin’s food products to local purchasers. Managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the grants can help farms and business more efficiently process, market and distribute food in local markets including stores, schools and institutions. Keeping food dollars in Wisconsin communities supports local businesses, improves farm incomes, and creates jobs.A total of $200,000 is available in grant funding each year through the program; the maximum award for each project is $50,000, and grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget. Generally, qualified applicants include individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations. Proposals can include individual projects, collaborations or partnerships.
Two states left nearly 200,000 people off voter rolls earlier this year, leading to confusion and anger when those people tried to cast a ballot in the primaries. Election security experts fear it could happen again in November. While the problems stemmed mainly from computer glitches and human error, the chances of a repeat could be even greater if foreign adversaries, like the Russian government, successfully hack voter registration information.The confusion in primary elections in Maryland and California illustrated that Russia wouldn’t need to change votes to disrupt America’s electoral process, said Maurice Turner, a senior technologist at the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C. Simply changing voter registration information or spreading disinformation about voting places and times could be catastrophic, he said.“The attack that is most likely to succeed is one that causes confusion,” Turner said. “To cause confusion, there just needs to be a disruption in the normal process, and people’s fears can start to build.”Disarray at the polls slows the voting process, disenfranchises people and sows doubt in democratic systems, Turner said.
Florida, which hosts a dozen of the nation's 17 surviving tracks, is set to vote in November whether to ban greyhound racing. Those in favor of a ban see racing as animal cruelty akin to cockfighting, contending that dogs are caged for most of the day and risk life-threatening injuries for the sake of gambling.Groups including the Humane Society of the United States and celebrities such as Doris Day, a longtime animal rights activist, have raised $2.5 million to pass the ban. Greyhound racing supporters have raised a miserly $24,000 to defend it. "We're going to get squashed," said Norm Rader, 62, a greyhound trainer. "It's a David and Goliath fight. They're going to overpower us with TV commercials. We can't dispute the lies they're telling about us."They are a target, Rader insists, because horse racing is too moneyed to take down."There's too much money there, so they're coming after us. I don't know what I'm going to do or how I'll survive," he said.Earlier this month, a controversial state judge ordered the measure to be removed from the ballot because its language was unclear, saying it amounted to "outright trickeration"; ban supporters then appealed the decision, prompting an automatic stay that put it back before voters. A hearing in the state's Supreme Court has now been confirmed, but both sides anticipate it will be on the ballot.