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SARL Members and Alumni News

Kansas house passes new tax break for rural jobs despite skepticism from some lawmakers

Lawrence Journal World | Posted on March 21, 2017

The Kansas House on Tuesday passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would offer tax incentives for investment companies that finance business projects that bring jobs to rural areas.  The Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act, as the bill is called, passed the House, 97-22, over the objection of some House members who said it had not been thoroughly studied, and worried that it could lead to giving taxpayer subsidies to factory hog farms or other kinds of confined animal feeding operations.  Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, made that argument during debate on the bill Tuesday. He also noted that a nearly identical bill was introduced in the Missouri General Assembly in 2016, under the name "the Show-Me Rural Jobs Act," and that the same venture capital firm executive who supported that bill was also the leading proponent of this year's bill in Kansas. The Missouri bill passed out of a House committee last year but was never considered by the full House. Another version of the bill has been reintroduced this year. Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, one of the sponsors of the bill, said he believes those concerns are being exaggerated. "I think it was a little overstated (Tuesday) and in committee when they were working the bill in regards to the approved investment companies coming into the state of Kansas and looking at businesses who want to either start a business in rural Kansas, expand, or if a company wants to move in from another state into the state of Kansas using this program," he said. Waymaster said the bill provides that the Department of Commerce would have to approve the investment companies and their business plans before they could be eligible for the tax credits, and they would only get the credits if they actually create jobs.


Minnesota Buffer Law Compliance

State of Minnesota | Posted on March 21, 2017

These preliminary compliance estimates were conducted by soil and water conservation districts based on parcel reviews via aerial/satellite imagery. It is important to note that these estimates do not imply or represent non-compliance. Additional field-level reviews will be the next step in the inventory process.


Breed-specific Legislation

AVMA | Posted on March 21, 2017

Across the country, communities have attempted to reduce the incidence of serious and fatal dog bites by restricting the ownership of certain types of dogs, most often pit bulls. But others, including some states, have made these types of breed-specific laws illegal. So are breed-specific laws an effective way to reduce the incidence of dog bites? Or do they unfairly target good dogs whose only crime is matching the description of what some people believe to be dangerous? In this podcast, Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane, an animal welfare scientist at the AVMA, discusses breed-specific legislation.


Dairy air debate centers on nearly decade-old report

Capital Press | Posted on March 21, 2017

Proponents of legislation requiring new air regulations for Oregon dairies, Senate Bill 197, claim it merely implements recommendations from the 2008 Dairy Air Task Force, which was composed of agricultural and environmental representatives, among others. Critics of the proposal argue the 2008 report didn’t actually require any action and that emissions from dairies still aren’t significant enough to justify new rule-making. Lawmakers created the task force in 2007 as part of broader legislation aimed at clearing up inconsistencies in state and federal law regarding Clean Air Act requirements for agriculture. The task force issued a report the following year recommending that Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission develop rules for a dairy air emissions program, which would initially be voluntary but become mandatory in 2015.


Limits on livestock nuisance lawsuits passes Iowa Senate

Des Moines Register | Posted on March 19, 2017

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Tuesday aimed at limiting lawsuit damages in cases filed by unhappy neighbors against livestock producers. Senate File 447 allows for an affirmative defense to be raised when an animal feeding operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance or otherwise interfere with a person's enjoyment of life or property. The legislation suggests the public interest is served by preserving and encouraging responsible animal agricultural production. The affirmative defense could be raised regardless of the established date of operation or expansion of an animal feeding operation.The affirmative defense limits compensatory damages, as opposed to punitive damages, and specifies three categories of awards. Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, an eastern Iowa farmer who chairs the Iowa Senate Agriculture Committee, said the legislation is intended to protect animal agriculture, which provides 160,000 jobs in Iowa and generates $38 billion annually in economic impact. The measure, which heads to the House, was approved on a 31-18 vote, with two Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.


WA lawmakers asked to fund manure-into-water technology

Capital Press | Posted on March 19, 2017

An engineer told Washington lawmakers Tuesday that public funding would spur technology to distill cow manure into dry fertilizer and clean water, making polluted runoff from dairies a problem of the past.  “Wow,” said one legislator. “Yeah, wow,” said another.The Washington State Dairy Federation arranged back-to-back presentations to the House and Senate agriculture committees by Peter Janicki, CEO of Janicki Bioenergy in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.Janicki has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to convert sewage into drinking water in developing countries. A YouTube video viewed 3.2 million times shows Janicki in 2015 in Africa serving Bill Gates water that five minutes earlier had been human waste.Janicki said that he could use the experience and knowledge that he’s gained to create new technology for distilling cow manure.


Limits on livestock nuisance lawsuits passes Iowa Senate

Des Moines Register | Posted on March 16, 2017

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Tuesday aimed at limiting lawsuit damages in cases filed by unhappy neighbors against livestock producers. Senate File 447 allows for an affirmative defense to be raised when an animal feeding operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance or otherwise interfere with a person's enjoyment of life or property. The legislation suggests the public interest is served by preserving and encouraging responsible animal agricultural production. The affirmative defense could be raised regardless of the established date of operation or expansion of an animal feeding operation. The affirmative defense limits compensatory damages, as opposed to punitive damages, and specifies three categories of awards.


Governor Mark Dayton signs bipartisan $35 Million Rural Finance Authority bill

Minnesota Farm Guide | Posted on March 15, 2017

Delivering needed assistance to Minnesota’s 74,000 farmers, Governor Mark Dayton on Feb. 17 signed the bipartisan $35 million Rural Finance Authority legislation (H.F. 14) into law.  The new funding will allow the Authority to continue offering eligible Minnesota farmers affordable financing and terms and conditions not offered by other traditional lenders.  Without the investment, many Minnesota farmers would face a credit crunch caused by several years of low commodity prices and rising expenses. Rural Finance Authority loans are particularly important early in the year when Minnesota farmers review their finances and restructure debt ahead of the growing season.


Oregon farmers oppose new ‘show-up pay’ proposal, citing unpredictable weather

Argus Observer | Posted on March 15, 2017

Oregon farmers would dodge a key requirement of two bills aimed at improving schedule predictability for workers but still face a “show-up pay” requirement for canceled shifts.Under House Bill 2193 and Senate Bill 828, large employers in the retail, food service and hospitality industries would have to provide workers with additional compensation if their schedules are changed with less than two-weeks’ notice, among other provisions.Proponents say the bills are necessary because workers in these sectors often contend with schedule disruptions that prevent them from pursuing an education, obtaining adequate childcare or even getting sufficient sleep.Critics say it’s unrealistic for employers to plan two weeks ahead for canceled events, family emergencies, unforeseen worker departures and other incidents that can upend schedules.


Texas Ranchers Work to Secure Feed for 10,000 Cattle, Horses

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on March 15, 2017

State agriculture officials and ranchers are scrambling to secure feed and other supplies for approximately 10,000 cattle and horses that fled this week from wildfires in the Texas Panhandle. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension said Thursday about 4,200 large bales of hay are needed to feed displaced animals over the next two weeks.Trucks to shuttle animals from one location to another and fencing are among the needs as ranchers recover from the fires that killed four people and burned about 750 square miles in the state. Wildfires also ravaged parts of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.Jayce Winters, spokeswoman for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, said preliminary counts indicate about 1,500 cattle were killed in the fires, but a more precise accounting could be days or weeks away.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday suspended some permit requirements and transportation restrictions so supplies of hay could more quickly get to ranchers in the eight Texas Panhandle counties hit by the wildfires. His order covers transport of round hay bales and also includes waivers for shipments coming into the disaster area from other counties in the state.


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