To churn out more workers with marketable skills, an increasing number of states are offering residents free tuition to community colleges and technical schools.The move also is a reaction to fast-rising tuition costs — increases that stem, in part, from states reducing their financial support of public colleges and universities. “Everybody’s got cheap dirt — but do you have skilled workers?” Winograd said. “That’s the question states face as they recruit new industry.”But the free tuition push hasn’t produced an economic bonanza for any of the pioneering cities—at least not yet — and some states have struggled to come up with the money to keep their end of the bargain.The free tuition trend began in 2005 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which launched a privately funded effort to combat its economic decline. The movement has quickly spread: Today roughly 200 localities offer young residents free tuition to local community colleges and technical schools.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee berated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration Thursday for changing the Justice Department’s hands-off attitude toward the state’s marijuana trade. Inslee said Washington won’t be “intimidated” and will oppose federal intervention.“We should all be dedicated to that uproar of resistance on this wrong-headed, backward, antediluvian, below the Mason-Dixon line (policy) by Jeff Sessions,” Inslee said.Besides Washington, five states — Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska and Colorado — have approved the recreational use of marijuana. Massachusetts and Maine have also approved it but those laws have not gone into effect. Those states and 21 others plus Washington, D.C., have approved marijuana use for medical purposes.
Even as a series of states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the possession, use or sale of the drug remained a federal crime. Still, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, took a hands-off approach. That changed Thursday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked an Obama-era policy that was deferential to states’ permissive marijuana laws. Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow drug sales and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn’t overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this. It’s also generated confusion about what the policy might mean for marijuana users, sellers and states that collect taxes from pot sales.
The Arkansas Plant Board decided to stick with the same proposed dicamba regulations it first passed last fall. The second go-around with the regulations became necessary when, in December, state lawmakers asked the board to reconsider a mid-April spraying cutoff date along with the possibility of establishing spraying zones. The lawmakers, as part of the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC), said the Plant Board should consider revising those rules using “scientific-based evidence, a dividing line to create north and south zones, and ambient temperature and humidity applicable to temperature inversion during night-time hours.”
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles today unveiled an initiative that will open a new front on combating food insecurity: summer meals for Kentucky children. The Kentucky-grown Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program will create an economic incentive for summer meal programs to buy fruit and vegetables produced in Kentucky by Kentucky growers. the Kentucky-grown Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program will create an economic incentive for summer meal programs to buy fruit and vegetables produced in Kentucky by Kentucky growers.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a ruling on the constitutionality of Idaho’s Interference with Agricultural Production (commonly referred to as an “ag gag”) statute. The Court affirmed in part the lower court decision holding a portion of the statute unconstitutional but upheld two specific statutory provisions. This case is important as it is the first time a federal appellate court has found a constitutional right to record images on private property like a farm. Animal rights groups are hailing this is a major victory, despite the fact that other provisions in the law were upheld.Moreover, this opinion offers insight into the type of provisions that are allowable and those that are not when drafting farm protection laws. In addition to focusing on whether provisions involving misrepresentation were limited to situations involving legally cognizable harm or material gain, the Court also seemed to really focus on the true intent behind creating each provision. So, provisions like section (d) where the purpose appeared clearly to be prohibiting investigative journalism did not fare well, whereas provisions like section (b) where there was an articulated purpose in the record like protecting breeding records were upheld. This may serve as an important lesson to legislators drafting future statutes in other states.
The opioid crisis has struck farm and ranch families much harder than the rest of rural America. Farm towns will overcome this epidemic through strong farmer-to-farmer support and the resilience of our communities.The nation's two largest farm organizations have teamed up to bring attention to the opioid epidemic in farm country and provide information and resources to help those struggling with opioid abuse.
The State of Missouri’s FY18 budget signed by Gov. Eric Greitens made available $660,000 to fund a dairy risk management program created by the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act. The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA), housed within the Missouri Department of Agriculture, will begin accepting applications for the program in early 2018. The Margin Insurance Premium Assistance program was established to assist Missouri dairy farmers with the cost of their participation in the federal margin protection program by the Missouri General Assembly. Eligible dairy farmers may be reimbursed up to 70 percent of their federal premium, excluding the USDA Farm Service Agency administrative fees. Dairy farmers applying for reimbursement will be required to submit full proof of federal premium payment for each year that reimbursement is requested.
Recognizing the increasing threat invasive species pose to Pennsylvania’s economy and people, Gov. Tom Wolf last week announced an additional step to complement recent bipartisan legislation to help battle bad bugs and out-of-control plants. Wolf signed an executive order expanding the Governor’s Invasive Species Council to bring additional expertise and resources to bear in the battle against new invasive species, such as the spotted lanternfly, which has been found in 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties.“When a new pest or species is introduced into an ecosystem, it disrupts the natural order, posing a threat to native species, established industries and the quality of life of our residents,” Wolf said.The council will be expanded from 10 to 14 members to pave the way for adding representatives of county and municipal governments, conservation districts and the transportation sector.
After more than a decade in the Virginia Department of Forestry, Bettina Ring will be the commonwealth’s next secretary of agriculture and forestry. She will replace Basil I. Gooden in the role that oversees the state’s largest private industry, agriculture, which combined with forestry provides more than 442,000 jobs, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.“We have sustainable farmland and forestland across the state, and we want to make sure it stays healthy and the families stay healthy” managing it, Ring said. “We want to be developing the economy (and) protecting the environment.”