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Editorial: Rural Virginia bleeds; does the state care?

The Roanoke Times | Posted on July 26, 2017

The most critical commentary came from a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. A. Barton Hinkle wondered whether state government should even bother trying to help rural communities. “If [rural residents] can improve their economic circumstances by moving to urban areas, then why not let them?” he asked.If that means rural communities depopulate themselves, so what? “You could argue that, environmentally speaking, it might be better to keep some swaths of the state unpopulated,” Hinkle wrote. These libertarian sentiments may seem shocking to many rural residents, in much the same way that Parisians were shocked by the quote often attributed to Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat cake.” They aren’t new, though. In fact, the question of whether the state and federal government should even try to save rural economies is one that’s been asked before. The conservative writer Kevin Williamson expressed the same view a year ago in a controversial piece in The National Review, in which he looked at Garbutt, a former gypsum-mining town in upstate New York. Williamson argued that efforts to save the town are “the indulgence of absurd sentimentality” — and a waste of taxpayers’ money. He went on to say that many rural communities “deserve to die.”“Economically, they are negative assets,” Williamson wrote. Residents of rural communities “need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.” Ouch.Unfortunately, President Trump is effectively putting that economic policy into practice, he’s just not saying it so bluntly. His budget zeroes out the very agencies that have paid for economic development infrastructure in rural communities — starting with the Appalachian Regional Commission. Congress probably won’t go along with a lot of those proposed cuts, but Trump’s budget does underscore an important point: Struggling rural communities probably can’t count on Washington, which puts more onus on state governments to intervene.Or not.From our vantage point outside the urban crescent, we naturally disagree with Hinkle’s premise — but he does ask a very good question. Why should state government care what happens in rural Virginia?


Despite Growing Support for Marijuana, Legalization Faces Rocky Road

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on July 26, 2017

Ask advocates of marijuana legalization how their cause fared during the 2017 state legislative sessions and they’ll tell you that though the gains were incremental, they’re hopeful that several legislatures will eventually make possession and sale of the federally prohibited drug legal. Ask the same of people who oppose legalization and they’ll say it’s been a banner year — they choked efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in many statehouses and stalled implementation of pot sales in at least one other.Lawmakers in at least 23 states considered legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana this year and 16 states weighed bills to establish medical marijuana programs.But even as public support for marijuana continues to grow, few of those measures survived. That’s in part because many lawmakers are concerned that the Trump administration may begin strict enforcement of federal drug laws, political analysts say. Many legislators are also beholden to conservative supporters and face little political pressure to sign off on marijuana legislation, the analysts say.


Medical marijuana set-up costing Ohio taxpayers $6 million more

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on July 26, 2017

The price of marijuana is going up — for Ohio taxpayers.The State Controlling Board, a legislative panel that oversees state expenditures, on Monday approved an additional $6 million to pay for startup expenses for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program. That brings the total to about $11 million so far that taxpayers have paid for the program. In separate votes, the board approved an additional $1.6 million for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and $4.4 million for the Ohio Commerce Department. Both agencies are involved in setting up the new program to permit sale of medical marijuana to qualifying patients by September 2018.


Canadian Agriculture Minister urges caution in NAFTA talks

Capital Press | Posted on July 26, 2017

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, said he’s amenable to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement but hopes the talks proceed with caution. “It’s put a lot of money in the farmers’ pockets in the U.S. and Canada, so let’s be sure to continue down that path,” MacAulay said. “If you’re going to fix something that’s in good shape, be careful.”MacAulay stopped in Portland July 24 for the annual summit of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a non-profit created by five American states and five Canadian provinces.NAFTA is top of mind in agriculture these days, with negotiations over the agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico set to begin Aug. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.After meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, MacAulay sees an ally who’s also supportive of the strong trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.


Movie ‘What The Health’ claims get debunked

Animal Ag Alliance | Posted on July 26, 2017

Some determined activists will say almost anything to convince people to go vegan. One example of this is “What The Health,” a film you might have seen while scrolling through Netflix. If you’ve watched the movie, it may have left you feeling confused about the nutritional value of meat, milk, poultry and eggs. Several scientists, dietitians and agriculture advocates have started speaking out against the film and helping viewers find factual information to make decisions about their diets. Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise analyzed each health claim made in the film and concluded that 96 percent were bogus and not based on sound science. Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician says the film “cherry-picks scientific studies, exaggerates, makes claims that are untrue, relies on testimonials and interviews with questionable “experts,” and fails to put the evidence into perspective.”


How saving this adorable mutt could put your own best friend at risk of illness

National Post | Posted on July 26, 2017

Visit any dog park in urban Canada these days and you’re bound to encounter at least one or two: rescue dogs adopted from an exotic foreign or domestic locale.It’s estimated, in fact, that tens of thousands of winsome canine refugees enter the country every year — while many others are shipped vast distances inside Canada.But the growing, humanitarian-motivated trend is inadvertently creating a major public-health headache, fuelling a rebound in the deadly rabies problem and importing other nasty diseases, public health officials warn.A federal-government journal has just documented three recent cases of stray puppies being taken from Nunavut or northern Quebec — where the deadly disease is endemic among Arctic foxes — to new homes in southern Canada, only for the owners to discover they had acquired rabid animals. Meanwhile, as dogs stream in from the Caribbean, Latin America, east Asia and the Middle East, Canada’s pet-import rules are among the loosest in the world, vets say. “There are thousands upon thousands of dogs that come into Canada every year, and it’s a completely unregulated process,” said Scott Weese, Canada research chair in zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases at the Ontario Veterinary College. “Animals aren’t supposed make it into the country if they’re sick, but we see it all the time.”


Missouri Dicamba Ban Released

DTN | Posted on July 20, 2017

Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn on Thursday issued a notice of release from the statewide stop sale, use or removal order for Engenia, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and FeXapan Herbicide Plus VaporGrip Technology. New rules put additional rules and regulations on who can spray the products and the hours of day they can be sprayed. The move follows similar rules announced for use of dicamba products in Tennessee. Arkansas has instituted a ban on in-crop agricultural uses of dicamba products for the remainder of the growing season.The new rules come on the heels of reports of injury in sensitive crops and plants and formal complaints that have been filed with state pesticide regulatory agencies.


NC:Agriculture Bill With Anti-Union Language Signed by Cooper

US News and World Report | Posted on July 20, 2017

Unions in sparsely organized North Carolina are unhappy with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for signing a wide-ranging farm bill because it contained a last-minute provision that seeks to ensure growers don't have to collect dues for organized workers.Cooper announced Thursday the legislature's annual agriculture measure was among six bills on his desk that he's signed into law.The legislation, approved on the second-to-last full day of this year's General Assembly chief work session, includes a provision designed to prevent farms from being forced into future agreements to collect workers' dues and transfer them to unions. Farmers also could not be required to enter into union contracts as part of settling worker lawsuits.The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the only agricultural worker union in the state, said the provision was aimed to block it from helping laborers improve their own working conditions through union agreements and litigation. A group leader blasted Cooper for "choosing to be on the wrong side of history" by expanding an anti-labor law first passed in the state in 1947 and vowed to challenge the new law in court."It is a shame that this Democrat and others refuse to stand on the side of the most marginalized working poor and the immigrant workers that keep this state's economy afloat," said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez in a release. He said worker and immigrant rights groups had been hopeful for a veto after meetings with Cooper last month, before the union provision got debated.

"Working people in North Carolina deserve better fr


Trump nominates SARL, CSG, Senate Leader Mark Norris to federal judgeship in Tennessee

The Tennessean | Posted on July 19, 2017

President Donald Trump nominated state Sen. Mark Norris and three other attorneys Thursday to serve as federal judges in Tennessee. Norris and Thomas L. Parker were nominated for judgeships in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, which includes Memphis.


With second ‘ag gag’ law struck down, eyes turn to appeals courts

Capital Press | Posted on July 14, 2017

With so-called “ag gag” laws getting struck down in Idaho and Utah, the fate of such statutes is expected to be decided by federal appellate courts with jurisdiction over 15 Western states. Two neighboring states, Idaho and Utah, enacted laws barring people from gaining entry to farms under false pretenses to film agricultural operations.The statutes were prompted by broadly publicized undercover videos that depicted animal abuse at livestock facilities.A federal judge recently found Utah’s statute to unconstitutionally violate free speech rights, largely on the same grounds that Idaho’s law was earlier invalidated.The ruling in Idaho is already being reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while the Utah opinion is expected to be challenged before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Together, the federal appellate courts have jurisdiction over 15 Western states.However, the 9th Circuit is widely viewed as more liberal than the 10th Circuit, potentially setting up a “circuit split” on the laws that would invite U.S. Supreme Court review, experts say.Despite its conservative reputation, the 10th Circuit is likely to uphold U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s recent ruling against Utah’s statute, said Stewart Gollan, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which sued to oppose the laws.False statements, such as those used to obtain farm jobs, would likely be protected under a Supreme Court precedent that threw out a law criminalizing lies about military service, he said.


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