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SARL Members and Alumni News

Legislation adds up costs of Idaho's new hemp program

Capital Press | Posted on February 21, 2019

An Idaho House bill that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity in accordance with a new federal law now includes estimates of how much it will cost. A fiscal note included with House Bill 122, discussed in a hearing Feb. 18, says one-time, startup costs include $100,000 for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and for contracted experts to coordinate a plan in time for the 2020 spring growing season.The plan would be developed with input from growers, processors, the Idaho State Police and others.Another one-time cost is an estimated $50,000 for information technology specific to USDA requirements for hemp cultivation and other startup expenses. Initially, plant and oil samples will likely be sent to an approved testing lab, since the extent to which Idaho growers and entrepreneurs will invest in growing and processing hemp is unknown.HB 122’s fiscal note estimates ongoing costs at $150,000 including operating expenses, salaries and benefits.

Defenders of raw milk focusing on liberty more than health

Edairy News | Posted on February 21, 2019

The Tennessee Senate Commerce and Labor Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the Briggs bill, but what lawmakers are hearing is that Senate Bill (SB) 15 pits community health against civil liberties.Briggs, is a Republican, a cardiac surgeon and a retired U.S. Army Colonel. He represents Knoxville in the Tennessee Senate, told Ohio television station WTOL Channel 11 that the controversy his bill has caused is like “kicking a hornet’s nest.” Raw milk dairy farmers are fighting for their loophole, saying civil liberties are at stake for both producers and consumers of raw milk. They are calling opposition to the Briggs bill “a liberty issue.” Briggs decided to take on the cow-share loophole after an E. coli outbreak this past summer in Knox County sickened 10 children, some severely. Raw milk produced by French Broad Farm was the likely cause of the outbreak, according to investigators. The dairy ended its cow-share program in response to the event.

MnDOT: State should have 194k more electric vehicles in a decade

Minneapolis Public Radio | Posted on February 21, 2019

Minnesota transit officials have a bold new goal for electric vehicles in the state: electrify 20 percent of all cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks in a decade.An effort to tackle climate change and move away from fossil fuels, the Minnesota Department of Transportation's proposal, released last week, calls for a 3,200 percent increase in the amount of electric vehicles by 2030.The electric vehicle target comes a month after a new state report shows that personal vehicles are among the largest greenhouse gas sources in Minnesota — emitting 23.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2016.

Go for the vacation, stay for the worker subsidy

Daily Yonder | Posted on February 21, 2019

Vermont is offering $10,000 to workers who move with their remote job to the state. It’s part of larger efforts in Northern New England to attract more young people.  When measured by median age, the three Northern New England states (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) are the three oldest in the country.

Oklahoma agriculture board approves poultry farm proposals

The News Tribune | Posted on February 21, 2019

The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture on Tuesday approved proposals for new or expanding poultry operations requiring them to be a certain distance away from homes and schools, but some eastern Oklahoma residents say the plan doesn't go far enough. The board voted 3-2 for the rules that include "setback" requirements that operations with fewer than 150,000 birds be at least 500 feet from homes and larger operations be at least 1,000 feet away. All operations must be at least 1,500 feet from schools.All operations must be 200 feet from streams, 100 feet from private wells and 500 feet from public wells.The proposal now goes to the Legislature and, if approved and signed by the governor, would go into effect in September.

Hawaii ‘Postcard From the Future’ for Renewables

Bloomberg | Posted on February 21, 2019

Near Honolulu, researchers are testing how to generate electricity from the energy in ocean waves. And Hawaii’s largest electric utility is among the first to widely use advanced “smart” inverters to help manage the flow of electricity from rooftop solar panels into the power grid. Such projects help explain why Hawaii is becoming a laboratory for how to integrate wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy into an electric power grid—something the state must do in order to meet its first-in-the-nation goal to use only renewable electricity in the future.California approved a similar renewables mandate in 2018. But Hawaii is a lab for how to integrate renewable energy into the power grid because it already has the highest use of rooftop solar in the country and its power grids are small and completely isolated from one another, Andy Hoke, a senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, told Bloomberg Environment.The Hawaii Legislature passed a law in 2015 requiring the state to obtain all of its electric power from renewables by 2045—a goal California, New York, and other states have tried to emulate.

Decriminalizing marijuana aimed at reducing black incarceration rate, Gov. Tony Evers says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on February 21, 2019

Allowing Wisconsin residents to smoke and sell small amounts of marijuana would reduce the disproportionate rate at which the state's black residents are arrested, Gov. Tony Evers argued. "People shouldn't be treated like criminals for accessing medicine that could change or maybe even save their lives," Evers said Monday at a news conference announcing his plan to legalize marijuana for medical reasons and decriminalize recreational use of small amounts of the plant. "But I also want to make this clear: This is not just about accessing health care," he said. "This is about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity."Evers cited the state's distinction of having the nation's highest incarceration rate among black men, time in prison that can result from police stops prompted by marijuana use. 

States Consider ‘Surge Pricing’ for Power

Pew Trust | Posted on February 21, 2019

Just as more people fly during the holidays and drive during rush hour, the demand for electricity peaks at predictable times. Flights and some toll roads cost the most when demand is highest. Now California wants residents to get used to the same dynamic when it comes to purchasing electricity.Starting in March, the state’s utility regulator will require major utilities to increase prices during the hours when electricity is in high demand and lower prices the rest of the time — a change that’s expected to affect some 6 million households.It’s Uber’s surge pricing, but for your light switch.Electricity might not feel like a hot commodity when you come home to an empty house at 5:30 p.m., but across California, millions of people also are returning from work, bumping down the thermostat a few degrees and throwing in a load of laundry before prepping dinner.All that demand at once forces utilities to ramp up production, typically turning on additional generators that rely on fossil fuels. That costs utilities more, and it releases more dirty emissions.

Oregon On-farm brewery bill hits snag over hop acreage

Capital Press | Posted on February 21, 2019

Breweries would enjoy agritourism privileges similar to those of wineries and cideries on Oregon farmland under legislation that’s hit a snag over on-site hop acreage requirements. Lawmakers allowed wineries in Oregon to conduct certain commercial activities and special events in “exclusive farm use” zones in 2013, then extended similar rights to cideries in 2017.Senate Bill 287 would now allow on-farm breweries to also have tasting rooms for malt beverages and hold brewer’s lunches and dinners, among other promotional activities.“We’re simply asking that you do the same for beer,” said Matthew Merritt, general counsel for Rogue Ales and Spirits. “I think there are a number of breweries that want to do this but are afraid to.”The sticking point is that SB 287 ties these privileges at on-farm breweries to the size of adjacent hop yards, which don’t evenly correspond with vineyards or orchards.

Oklahoma sets new rules for chicken farm placements, expansions

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on February 20, 2019

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture approved new rules covering the locations of chicken farms relative to schools, homes and water sources, although the provisions will not affect current farms operating before October 2018. The new setback requirements call for chicken operations with fewer than 150,000 birds to be at least 500 feet from homes. Larger chicken farms must be established at least 1,000 feet away from houses. All chicken operations also now must be 500 feet from public wells, 100 feet from private wells and 200 feet from streams, officials said.