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SARL Members and Alumni News

Iowa Senate OKs bill opening door to hemp production, marketing

Des Moines Register | Posted on April 5, 2018

The production and marketing of industrial hemp would be authorized in Iowa in compliance with federal law under a bipartisan bill passed Wednesday by the Iowa Senate. The Senate approved Senate File 2398, titled the "Iowa Industrial Hemp Act," on a 49-0 vote, sending the measure to the House.


Rhode Island to buy farms to help new farmers

Swiowa New Source | Posted on April 4, 2018

Rhode Island is launching a program to buy farms and sell them to new farmers for dirt cheap. A farm bought for $500,000, for example, could then be sold for $100,000. It is an unconventional approach to ensure that farming remains viable. Under the program, the state will buy a farm at the full appraised value, which takes into account the land's worth if it was developed. The state will then resell the farm at the agricultural appraised value, which is its worth solely as a farm. That is typically 20 percent of the full value, Ayars said. The condition is that it must remain a farm, which the state broadly defines as anything related to the production of agricultural crops or raising livestock.Rhode Island plans to spend $3 million from the most recent environmental bond approved by voters to buy farmland and development rights.


Delaware County officials end fight against 10,000-hog farm

Daily Herald | Posted on April 4, 2018

Officials in a central Indiana county are dropping their fight against a proposed 10,000-hog farm after threats of legal action since a state agency has approved the project. The Delaware County commissioner had put a hold on building permits for the farm in the northern part of the county. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management recently approved plans for the confined animal feeding operation. That's despite concerns from residents over possible well water pollution and the farm field application of manure produced in the site's four barns.


Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 4, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes. It’s what Wisconsin’s government hopes for — and environmentalists fear.If given the go-ahead by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, which is based in Taiwan, would make liquid crystal displays, more commonly known as LCDs, in a factory just outside Racine, Wisconsin.Wisconsin courted Foxconn hard. The state offered $3 billion in incentives and exempted the plant from the state’s wetlands regulations and an environmental impact review. In luring Foxconn, Wisconsin beat out many of its Great Lakes neighbors — Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania also vied for the plant. The company has pledged to hire 3,000 people in Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district in a largely rural part of the state with a struggling economy. But the company needs more than just a wealth of manufacturing workers. Making LCD panels also requires large volumes of clean water: The plant is seeking approval through Racine’s water utility to drain 7 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan.But other Great Lakes states are questioning the legality of the deal, and some environmentalists say it could create a slippery slope that will allow other outside interests to tap into lakes.Environmentalists object to Wisconsin leaders allowing Foxconn to skirt some environmental regulations, and they worry Racine’s wastewater treatment center won’t be able to treat all the pollution from the plant before releasing the water back into Lake Michigan.


State Rep. Gipson Named Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner

US News and World Report | Posted on April 4, 2018

Rep. Andy Gipson will succeed fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith once she moves to the U.S. Senate. He will serve the rest of the current commissioner's term, which ends in January 2020.Gipson, 41, is an attorney and Baptist pastor and has been in the state House since 2008. His family lives on a farm in Braxton, and he has been posting photos and videos on Facebook of fresh eggs from their chickens and milk from their cows."I want to see us grow the pie, let the pie grow of agriculture— not regulate it too much, not put it out of business, not shrink it, but to grow it," Gibson said as he stood with Bryant during a news conference at the Mississippi Museum of Agriculture and Commerce.


17 States and Cities Have Sued the Government Over Plans to Add Census Citizenship Question

TIme | Posted on April 4, 2018

 Seventeen states, the District of Columbia and six cities sued the U.S. government Tuesday, saying the addition of a citizenship question to the census form is unconstitutional. Federal funding and congressional representation are at stake in the dispute over the Trump administration’s move to reinstate the citizenship question to the 2020 census. It would be the first time in 70 years that the government uses the form sent to every household to ask people to specify whether they are U.S. citizens. New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who announced the new lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, said the plans would have a “devastating effect on New York, where we have millions of immigrants.”“It’s unlawful. It’s unfair,” Schneiderman said at a news conference. He added that it would end a longstanding bipartisan effort to ensure the census is accurate and that the Bureau of the Census carries out its mandate to conduct a full and fair count of the population, including citizens and non-citizens.


Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 3, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes.


Low unemployment but slow growth in Nebraska

Kansas City Fed | Posted on April 2, 2018

Nebraska’s economy has remained relatively strong, but recent growth has been slower. Measures of economic output and employment growth both slowed through 2017 alongside historically low levels of unemployment. Tightening labor markets likely have contributed to some of the recent slowdown as wage gains in Nebraska also have continued to accelerate. Though unemployment has remained low across the state, economic activity in rural areas has continued to weaken alongside persistently low agricultural commodity prices.


Lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Iowa “Ag Gag” statute allowed to proceed

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on April 2, 2018

A federal district judge in the Southern District of Iowa recently allowed a First Amendment challenge to the state’s “Ag Gag” law to go forward.  The law, passed in 2012, makes “agricultural production facility fraud” a crime.  A person is guilty of this charge if he or she willfully obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses or makes a false statement as part of an application or employment agreement with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner of the agricultural production facility.  The lawsuit, filed in October 2017 by several animal rights groups, claims that the statute violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.  The court dismissed a Fourteenth Amendment challenge upon finding that the State’s rationale for the law–the need to prevent trespasses at ag facilities and preventing employment fraud–was sufficient to survive rational basis review.  The First Amendment claim, however, was allowed to proceed.


State Rep. Gipson Named Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner

Jackson Free Press | Posted on March 31, 2018

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed a lawmaker to be the state's new agriculture commissioner. Rep. Andy Gipson will succeed fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith once she moves to the U.S. Senate. He will serve the rest of the current commissioner's term, which ends in January 2020.


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