Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been named as a federal judge in West Tennessee, leaving his position open in the state senate. The U.S. Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm Norris in a close vote 51-44 vote.“I recommended Senator Norris to the president, and I strongly supported Mark’s nomination,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. “He is respected by his peers around the country, having been elected chairman of the Council of State Governments, and has been an advocate and a champion for federalism and for the separation of powers.”
Native American groups in North Dakota are scrambling to help members acquire new addresses, and new IDs, in the few weeks remaining before Election Day — the only way that some residents will be able to vote. This week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify.Many Native American reservations, however, do not use physical street addresses. Native Americans are also overrepresented in the homeless population. As a result, Native residents often use P.O. boxes for their mailing addresses and may rely on tribal identification that doesn't list an address.Those IDs used to be accepted at polling places — including in this year's primary election — but will not be valid for the general election. And that decision became final less than a month before Election Day, after years of confusing court battles and alterations to the requirements.
The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development today announced a public comment period on the state’s 2019 Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs). The public comment period begins now and ends at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 29, 2018. Public comment will be accepted on the following GAAMPs, which have proposed changes for 2019: Manure Management and Utilization; Care of Farm Animals; Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Facilities; and Irrigation Water Use. The GAAMPs regarding the Nutrient Utilization, Cranberry Production, Farm Markets, and Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control have no proposed changes for 2019.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to extend its program to buy out swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, the state agency said in a news release. Using funding grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the state will be able to institute permanent conservation easements to the farms.The program began in 2000 after Hurricane Floyd. It offers an opportunity for swine production operations with a high risk of flooding to convert to other forms of agriculture more compatible with floodplain locations.A total of 42 swine operations from the 100-year floodplain have been bought out so far for $18.7 million.To qualify for the voluntary buyout, the hog farms must be in the 100-year floodplain and must have been in operation on Oct. 8, 2016 or have resumed operation between Oct. 8, 2016 and Sept. 14, 2018.
Previous research on U.S. consumers details how the products they buy and where they make food purchases are changing. For example, in 1990, 80% of food for at-home consumption was purchased at supermarkets; by 2014, that number dropped to 65% (Ver Ploeg, Larimore and Wilde, 2017). The USDA Economic Research Service has calculated food at home expenditures since 1987, and annual data are available starting in 1929. In their calculation, production value or sales is equal to total expenditures. A 2016 survey of 1,000 Coloradans provides an interesting opportunity to explore how food product attributes (including source information) and other consumer issues affect decisions to purchase Colorado Proud products as well as where consumers choose to shop. The Public Attitudes about Agriculture in Colorado survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is the most recent data from a continuing effort that has taken place every 5 years since 1996. This survey asks Coloradans to answer questions on a variety of topics, including perception of the safety of the food produced by Colorado farmers and ranchers, consumer’s trust of information from particular source, how consumers define local, trust of products labeled as local, familiarity with Colorado Proud, factors that are important to consumer purchasing decisions, and consumer motivations for purchasing more Colorado produce. A national survey group,conducted the Internet-based survey using a panel of Colorado residents between August 24 and September 6, 2016.
It may not seem like it, but San Diego County is a farming community.That phrase, “farming community,” may conjure up images of old-timey black and white photos of tractors tilling up huge fields in what may now be a suburban neighborhood. Yet local agriculture continues to be important today.But our farming community is not without challenges. The most urgent challenge is Oceanside’s Measure Y, a ballot initiative that could spell the end of local farming. As president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, I hope to help local residents understand this threat because of the value farming brings to our region.In 2017, farming contributed nearly $5 billion to San Diego County’s economy. Yes, “billion” with a “b.” To get to that level, 16,000 jobs have been created. While the economic numbers sound good, farming is a profession that requires skill, investment, risk and work. Really hard work. Add to those challenges the cost of water, foreign imports and an acute shortage of farm labor, and it is easy to understand why the number of farmers continues to shrink.An additional problem farmers face is attempts to legislate farming through ballot-box planning. Oceanside’s Measure Y, slated for the city’s November general election ballot, is a prime example.With the challenges farmers already face, it would be a practically unbearable burden if farmers in Oceanside are forced to comply with land-use regulations that no other property owner in Oceanside has to follow.
Oklahoma’s government implemented a moratorium on applications to build new poultry feeding operations. The State Board of Agriculture’s decision comes about a month after Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced that the state and tribe were forming a council to evaluate the expansion of poultry growth and its impact on rural communities in northeast Oklahoma.At the time of the council’s formation, the state had issued 41 permits to expand or build new poultry houses within the last year, with several more pending. More than half of those were listed for northeastern counties, where residents have expressed concern about competition for water supplies. Most permits were issued to growers contracted with Simmons Foods, which is building a 400,000-square-foot chicken plant over the border in Gentry, Ark.The moratorium is meant to allow the council enough time to analyze the issues.
In the past three years, Irvine went from treating its parks and nature areas with more than 50 pounds and about 60 gallons of synthetic weed and pest killers annually, all the way down to zero. The city now uses organic products with ingredients such as corn gluten meal and oil from soybeans, lemongrass or rosemary. And Irvine is not alone – it’s one of more than 150 U.S. cities and counties that have created “organic-first” policies and in some cases banned the use of specific chemicals that may harm people or the environment.But a provision tucked into the 2018 federal farm bill could block local governments from making their own rules about pesticides, effectively neutering local control over what gets sprayed into the air, poured into the water or sprinkled on the ground.While the rule couldn’t force anyone to use any particular type of pesticide, it would allow only federal and state authorities to place restrictions on them.
California voters are right to think they already weighed in on how big cages should be for egg-laying hens. In 2008, voters ushered in Proposition 2, which sought to free egg-laying hens from tiny cages. It didn’t outlaw cages but barred California farmers from keeping hens — as well as calves raised for veal and breeding pigs — in pens so small they virtually couldn’t move.Since then, supermarket shelves have filled with cage-free egg varieties. Corporations like McDonald’s, Costco and Taco Bell have committed to using cage-free products.But a decade later, voters are being asked to revisit the issue with Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.The Humane Society of the United States, the issue’s primary proponent, says the measure is needed to update California standards and to apply those standards to out-of-state farmers selling their products in California. The earlier initiative simply stated the three types of animals must be able to turn around freely, stand up and fully extend their limbs — but set no specifics.A “yes” vote for Proposition 12 would create new minimum size requirements for confinement. It would also ban the sales from other states not meeting California’s standards.
Seven U.S. states in the Southwest that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached tentative agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, officials said Tuesday. The announcement was a long-awaited step toward preserving the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.“We have, after many years of discussion and negotiation, a real milestone,” said James Eklund, a water lawyer who represents Colorado in the interstate negotiations on the river.A nearly two-decade drought has drained the river’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to alarmingly low levels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages major reservoirs across the West, says the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead are 57 percent by 2020. The reservoir has never fallen low enough to trigger a shortage before. If it happens, mandatory cutbacks would hit Arizona, Nevada and Mexico first.The drought contingency plans announced Tuesday are not designed to prevent a shortage in the river system, but to manage and minimize the effects. The two major components of the plans cover the Upper Basin, where most of the water originates as Rocky Mountain snowfall, and the Lower Basin, which consumes more of the water because it has more people and more farms. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are in the Upper Basin. Arizona, California and Nevada are in the Lower Basin. The Lower Basin plan is detailed and specific, but the Upper Basin plan outlines what steps the states would take if things get worse, said Karen Kwon, Colorado’s assistant attorney general.