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SARL Members and Alumni News

A pent-up threat to the Chesapeake Bay: Editorial

Penn Live | Posted on August 24, 2017

Just a few miles from the Maryland- Pennsylvania border lies the Conowingo Dam, an 88-year-old power station stopping the massive Susquehanna River, which is the source of much of the freshwater flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Since bay cleanup began, states in the Chesapeake watershed have relied on the dam to limit the flow of sediment and phosphorous further downstream, and the plan was to continue doing so for decades to come. But the dam's sediment pools are full, long before the cleanup plan projected them to be. Now Maryland, where the dam is located, and Pennsylvania, which is responsible for much of the pollution in the Susquehanna, have to decide what, if anything, to do about it.Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that the state would conduct some limited dredging behind the dam, testing the feasibility of doing so on a larger scale and determining whether there could be some use for the material recovered.But Chesapeake environmental advocates are wary, concerned that diverting focus and resources to dredging behind the dam might undermine more important environmental initiatives, such as stopping pollution from entering the Susquehanna and other rivers in the first place. That is an argument for proceeding with care, not refusing to attend to the dam.

Fate of ‘Ag Gag’ Laws May Ride on Utah, Idaho Cases

Bloomberg | Posted on August 23, 2017

In July a federal trial court struck down the Utah farm protection law as unconstitutional. A host of supporters and critics of such laws are closely watching what happens next in both the Utah case and in a similar Idaho case pending before a federal appeals court.Observers say the cases will help determine whether other states will join the nine, including Utah and Idaho, that have statues allowing criminal or civil cases against those who carry out undercover operations at animal production facilities. Or, instead, if the animal rights, environmental and other groups who challenged the Utah and Idaho laws will broaden their efforts to challenge the laws in all of the states. Utah’s law was enacted in 2012 in response to increased videotaping and other activities by animal rights groups at animal production facilities across the U.S. The law, similar to several other state statutes put into place over the past five years, makes it a crime to gain access to an agricultural site under false pretenses, and bars electronic eavesdropping, obtaining a job as a pretext for filming, and filming while trespassing.An appeal in the Idaho case has been argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which, sources say, should soon issue a ruling. When it does, the Ninth Circuit will become the first federal appeals court to rule on the constitutionality of the state statutes

Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

USDA | Posted on August 21, 2017

Farm sector net cash income is expected to decline 35 percent between 2013 and 2016, following several years of record highs—though it will remain near its recent 10-year average.  Starting in the late 1990s, the median household income for farm households has exceeded the median income of all U.S. households; in 2015, farm households had a median total household income of $76,735, a third greater than that of all U.S. households but less than that of U.S. households with a self-employed head. Federal Government payments—including disaster assistance programs and commodity program payments—are expected to be about $13 billion in 2016, and buffer swings in farm income.

Photovoice for Agricultural Resilience: Farmers educate decision-makers through photos.

Snohomosh Conservation District | Posted on August 17, 2017

Seven farms took part in the Photovoice Project hosted by the Snohomish Conservation District and The Nature Conservancy. Through a series of four workshops, participants responded to two questions - "Why is agriculture important to our community?" and "What are the major challenges facing agriculture?" - through photos and discussion. Farmers each selected three of their photos, including captions, that are now part of this exhibition. By sharing their story and thoughts with decision makers through this exhibit, these farmers hope to address some of the pressing issues facing agriculture in this County.

Judge: New Arizona law regulating citizen initiatives can take effect, for now

Arizona Central | Posted on August 15, 2017

A new state law making it tougher for residents to put issues on the ballot will take effect Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge has ruled.  But "it's certainly a possibility" the ruling will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, said attorney Roopali Desai, who represents those challenging the law. And Judge Sherry Stephens left the door open for groups to file lawsuits at a later time.A broad coalition of individuals and advocacy groups filed the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2244, which requires the mechanics of an initiative effort — from the size of the petition paper to the font size of the text — to strictly comply with state law.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose

SARL member wins special state Senate election to succeed lieutenant governor (also a SARL member)

News-Leader | Posted on August 15, 2017

Rep. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, ensured future GOP control a southwest Missouri Senate seat by defeating Democrat Al Skalicky in a special election Tuesday to succeed Lt. Gov. Mike Parson. Crawford had been elected four times to the Missouri House. "I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the 28th District’s voice in the State Senate, and I look forward to fighting for our region’s rights and values when session begins next year," Crawford said in a statement. "Moving forward with commonsense, conservative legislation to lower the tax burden on families and small businesses, reduce the size of government, and protect Missouri values will be my top priority."

Outdoor Recreation Now the Largest Sector of Montana’s Economy

Wild Montana | Posted on August 9, 2017

Governor Bullock's Office of Outdoor Recreation now makes more sense than ever, as does taking good care of our public lands.

Programs help Michigan food, agriculture companies to expand

Crains Detroit | Posted on August 8, 2017

Steve Cooper recently added a butter production line at the dairy processing facility in Ottawa County where he is general manager, a $50 million project. He hired 10 people. To keep pace as Michigan farmers produce more milk each year, Cooper's company, Continental Dairy Facilities LLC, needed more wastewater treatment capacity to handle the increased volume. It can churn out 300,000 pounds of milk powder and 42,000 gallons of cream every day. Continental Dairy and neighboring Fairlife LLC, which share a 100-acre dairy campus on a former General Motors facility in Coopersville, sought funding for their business expansions through traditional means, which generally means applying for incentives from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. But their project got a boost from another source — the state Agriculture Department, which is piloting its own business development incentives program this year to help food-related companies achieve growth in smaller projects that won't create enough jobs to meet MEDC requirements.  That boost is about to get bigger.The program will expand to $4.7 million starting Oct. 1 after funding was inserted into the department's 2018 budget.Most of it will go to companies wanting to expand their food and agriculture businesses, Holton said, Money also will be used to fund competitive grants for companies that want to add equipment or training, for instance, and to help companies export products.State agriculture administrators believe the new incentives will deliver a level of flexibility to help businesses that the department previously didn't have.

Assemblymen reach across aisle for agriculture

Lodi News | Posted on August 8, 2017

On paper, Assemblymen Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Elk Grove representing California’s 9th District and Heath Flora, a Republican from Ripon representing the 12th District should be political adversaries. Despite their opposing party affiliations, the two found common ground in both their history as public safety employees and their commitment to advocating for California’s agriculture industry.Cooper, a second-term assemblyman, served in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years, reaching the rank of Captain, and spent 14 years as Elk Grove’s founding mayor and councilman before joining the Assembly in 2014.Flora, who is in his first term, is a small business owner from a farming family, served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years in Ripon, where he lives to this day, before joining the assembly in 2016 with Cooper’s endorsement.“I met Heath and thought he was a good fit. His family is in farming, and he was a firefighter, so we have that bond from our histories working in public safety, where you get used to working with other folks. All that matters to cops and firefighters is getting the job done, (political) parties and race don’t matter” said Cooper.In addition to Cooper’s law enforcement background, Flora was impressed by the Elk Grove Democrat’s dedication to learning as much as possible about agriculture.“Jim didn’t know anything about agriculture when he first started, but nobody else in the Assembly educated themselves like he did. We want to take his model and educate other Democrats as well,” said Flora.The two were quick to work across party lines to represent the Central Valley’s needs, including water conservation and agriculture, which Cooper says are different from the rest of California.