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SARL Members and Alumni News

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.

Iowa agriculture in the global economy, explained in 7 charts

The Gazette | Posted on July 14, 2017

The impacts of agriculture in Iowa reach around the world. $1,176 million in corn alone was exported in 2016.  Explore 7 charts below that help put Iowa's agriculture economy into the global context - from top exports, to where Iowa products go, to how production has changed over time. 

America’s Aging Infrastructure: Waterways Face Critical Juncture

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 13, 2017

A network of dams and locks that make commercial river traffic possible is at risk of failure after decades of underinvestment, potentially causing significant economic damage

Idaho leads nation in personal income growth due to strong farm earnings

Capital Press | Posted on July 13, 2017

Idaho led the nation in personal income growth during the first three months of 2017, economists say, and the gain was driven largely by strong farm earnings.

Fish or farms? A new battle rages over California water

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on July 13, 2017

Fish or farms?  The House this week will tackle the question, which for years has triggered a tug-of-war between growers and environmentalists. It plans to vote on a Republican-authored plan aimed at sending more of northern California’s water to the Central Valley farmers who say they badly need it.But California’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, vow to block the bill in that chamber, saying it would bypass environmental safeguards and override state law. Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the bill.The bill, said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in an interview, “does not strike the right balance because there’s no reason that we have to accept a false choice and somehow weaken the Endangered Species Act in order to be smarter with water policy.”

License-fee dispute ousts staff at Ohio Division of Wildlife

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on July 13, 2017

There has been a bloodletting at the top of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  Eight senior officials, including the chief, have been removed from their posts after a bid to increase the cost of in-state hunting and fishing licenses divided the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.On one side was former chief Ray Petering and a coalition of 41 sporting organizations that support higher fees to help meet the division’s needs. On the other, advocates say, was Jim Zehringer, head of the agency, who opposed the increase.The cause of the divide was a $220 million budget shortfall projected over the next decade by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, and a grassroots-initiated proposal for a license fee increase to help address that problem. “Ohio sportsmen and women have never had to fight so hard to convince the government to pay our own way,” said Robert Sexton, a consultant with the Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Tennessee Sets Dicamba Rules

DTN | Posted on July 13, 2017

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) on Wednesday joined other Southern states by announcing additional measures to mitigate the risk of herbicides containing dicamba. The new rules filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State extend through Oct. 1, 2017, and require anyone spraying dicamba to be certified as a private or licensed applicator and keep records of the applications. Available hours to spray dicamba are now restricted to a period of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to avoid temperature inversions. No older formulations of dicamba products can be sprayed in agricultural settings for the remainder of the agricultural growing season. Applications over the top of cotton after first bloom are also prohibited.Dicamba herbicide is the suspected cause of widespread crop injury across several states.The Missouri Department of Agriculture said it may lift the temporary ban on the sale and use of in-crop use of the herbicide this week if a new label is developed with additional safeguards. The state has received over 130 official complaints related to dicamba since June 13, 2017.Both Monsanto and BASF, companies that manufacture dicamba herbicides designed to work with new Xtend-traited soybeans and cotton, confirmed to DTN that they have been actively working with state rule makers. "We are hopeful we will be able to reach resolution on this matter in very short order," said Monsanto spokesman Kyel Richard.

Drones and federalism

The Washington Times | Posted on July 13, 2017

Last week, drone industry executives told President Trump they needed more regulation, not less, before they could expand further — a man-bites-dog story if ever there was one. But the answer isn’t to keep waiting on Washington. It’s to make use of one of our nation’s founding principles: federalism. For now, the drone industry is grounded because the Federal Aviation Agency hasn’t written guidelines for drones that fly beyond the operator’s line of sight. Rules are also absent for drone flights at night. It will take years for this bureaucratic behemoth to pass through all the procedural hoops and hurdles necessary to produce a comprehensive regulatory scheme. The agency itself predicts drones won’t be fully integrated into our nation’s airspace until 2025.