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SARL Members and Alumni News

Wisconsin to Add Ag Enterprise Areas

Wisconsin Ag Connection | Posted on September 26, 2018

Three more agricultural enterprise areas totaling 185,000 acres have been designated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. The new AEAs will be in Trempealeau County's town of Arcadia; St. Croix County's town of Troy; and six townships in northwest Outagamie and northeast Waupaca counties. Wisconsin will have a total of 37 agricultural enterprise areas, or AEAs, in 26 counties, 108 towns and the Bad River Reservation, as of January 1, 2019.AEAs may be created or expanded when at least five landowners, in partnership with local governments, petition the DATCP for the designation. They are part of Wisconsin's farmland preservation program, intended to encourage preservation of agricultural land use and to promote agricultural economic development appropriate to each area.Landowners outside designated AEAs who want to participate should work with their neighbors and local governments to petition for AEA status.


Michigan's new food safety team assists food businesses

Michigan Department of Agriculture | Posted on September 26, 2018

A new team of food safety experts has been created to help speed up the licensing process for Minnesota food businesses. The goal of the Food Innovation Team (FIT), a subcommittee of Minnesota’s Food Safety and Defense Task Force, is to help state regulators accommodate new and innovative food business models while maintaining high food safety standards. “Obtaining a food license can be a daunting process,” said Jim Roettger, Licensing Liaison for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “The Food Innovation Team will help business owners untangle issues and provide them access to experts in the areas of regulation, local food systems, and food safety.”In addition to helping individual food entrepreneurs, the Food Innovation Team will strive to improve the overall functioning of the food regulatory system. Roettger says as FIT hears cases and resolves issues that are complex or unclear, that information will be captured in a database that will be available to the public. Over time, this information will help regulators, food system advocates, and food entrepreneurs work through complex food licensing problems.The Food Innovation Team was developed through a collaborative process that involved the food regulatory divisions of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota Department of Health, community groups including the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association and Renewing the Countryside, as well as University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.


Mandatory scrap food recycling coming to Portland area restaurants

KGW | Posted on September 26, 2018

Whether they want to or not, many Portland-area restaurants will soon be turning food scraps into energy. A mandatory food scrap recycling program is set to start in less than two years.Beginning in 2020 Metro will require any business that generates more than 250 pounds of food waste a week to separate out those food scraps for recycling.Currently, area food waste makes up about one-fifth of the garbage that goes to the landfill.According to Metro, that's about 5,000 semi-trucks full of food scraps every year that end up in our landfills. There the waste creates problematic methane gas.Metro wants to put that food waste to better use."The idea is, instead of having that food waste in a landfill where it creates methane gas which is a very potent greenhouse gas,” Pam Peck, Metro resource conservation manager said. “We can take that food waste and we can create better things out of it... we can create energy out of it.”


Trade wars, "Meatless Mondays" and BBQ. Texas Agriculture Commissioner candidates square off

Houston Business Journal | Posted on September 26, 2018

Much of the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner centers on food — whether immigrants should be able to help harvest it, how crops are traded or what items schools can serve students for lunch. Democrat Kim Olson, a farmer and Air Force veteran, is challenging the incumbent, Republican Sid Miller.  In the latest edition of our Split Decision virtual debate series, watch Olson and Miller discuss these issues, as well as Miller's presence on social media and more. Olson is critical of what Miller's done over his first term as agriculture commissioner, including the fees he raised on farmers and ranchers in 2016 that an audit showed raised millions more dollars than necessary. Miller highlighted reforms he said he's made at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including increased inspections and expanded foreign markets.The two also see President Donald Trump's tough trade policies very differently. Olson says Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports are hurting Texas farmers and beef producers. Texas' beef industry recently started re-establishing a relationship with China after a 14-year ban on U.S. beef exports to the country was lifted last year. Miller counters that the U.S. "hasn't really gained the beef market back" and added that he's confident that, ultimately, the president will make good on his promise to protect rural America.


Legal Deserts: a Multi-State Perspective on Rural Access to Justice

SSRN | Posted on September 26, 2018

Rural America faces an increasingly dire access to justice crisis, which serves to exacerbate the already disproportionate share of social problems afflicting rural areas. One critical aspect of that crisis is the dearth of information and research regarding the extent of the problem and its impacts. This article begins to address that gap by providing surveys of rural access to justice in six geographically, demographically, and economically varied states: California, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In addition to providing insights about the distinct rural challenges confronting each of these states, the legal resources available, and existing policy responses, the article explores common themes that emerge through this multi-state lens, thus framing a richer, broader discussion of rural access to justice, with particular attention to the rural attorney shortage.


Food and Agriculture Grants Will Boost Businesses in Michigan

Michigan.gov | Posted on September 26, 2018

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for three food and agriculture projects in Michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on cheese-making, asparagus packing and production, and grain processing as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-added Michigan products. “Food and agriculture processing is a diversified business in Michigan, and these three projects are great examples of the support we can give to small companies in order to accelerate their growth,” said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “We hope these companies continue to grow and establish themselves as key pieces of our food and ag supply chain that will support local, regional and national food companies and consumers.”The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan. 


As More Cities Push for Paid Sick Leave, States Push Back

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on September 26, 2018

A split is growing between cities that want to require private companies to give workers paid sick days and states that are determined to stop them. In the last three years, a dozen states have banned localities from passing paid leave requirements, more than doubling to 22 the states that now outlaw such local ordinances. The state moves come in response to the increasing number of cities and counties passing paid sick days ordinances. Since 2015, more than 20 cities, as well as eight states, have approved measures mandating that companies provide local workers with paid sick leave. Since San Francisco approved the first paid sick leave ordinance in 2006, paid sick day requirements have been passed in 35 cities or counties and 11 states.


Court temporarily blocks anti-union law in North Carolina, but fight isn’t over for farm workers

The News & Observer | Posted on September 24, 2018

Agriculture is one of the biggest, most powerful industries in North Carolina. But its corporate and political backers just lost the first round of a legal battle with the industry’s lowest-paid workers. Last year the N.C. General Assembly passed a law that, in part, made it illegal for farms and unions to negotiate settlements involving union contracts. It also made it illegal for farm workers to directly transfer parts of their paycheck to the union as dues. A federal judge blocked the law from taking effect — at least temporarily — as the lawsuit continues winding its way through the court system. 


SARL VP's farm wins 2018 Grower Achievement Award

Growing Produce | Posted on September 20, 2018

Autryville, NC-based Jackson Farming Company is the 2018 winner of American Vegetable Grower's prestigious Grower Achievement Award. First generation growers Brent and Debbie Jackson and their son Rodney Jackson demonstrate what can be accomplished when you’re willing to aim for long-term success.The Jackson Family will receive the American Vegetable Grower Grower Achievement Award in Washington, D.C., on September 24, 2018, during the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference. United Fresh partners with American Vegetable Grower in selecting and celebrating the Grower Achievement Award winner. The Jackson’s achievements over the past 37 years impressed the judges. Many in the industry think only multi-generation operations can reach the heights Jackson Farming Company has reached. The parents-and-son team of Brent and Debbie Jackson, along with second-generation grower Rodney, show their blend of risk-taking and a long-term focus on sustainability can let you reach great heights.” Senator Brent Jackson serves as SARL's 2nd Vice President.


SARL member Manitoba Minister Ralph Eichler signs MOU with Indiana

Cass Network | Posted on September 20, 2018

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler and members of the Indiana agricultural delegation met with officials from Canada’s Manitoba Province today to discuss opportunities to grow both regions’ agricultural sectors. Through a signed memorandum of understanding, the Indiana and Manitoba departments of agriculture agreed to facilitate cooperation in several areas including agricultural research and development, youth education and leadership, and trade investment – all for the purpose of mutual economic growth. The agricultural sector has been a key driver of trade and economic growth in both Manitoba and Indiana. Through the MOU, the two regions will encourage stronger partnerships between researchers, innovation leaders, businesses, and young farmers, and will share information and best practices to help each jurisdiction make the most of new opportunities to drive growth and innovation in agriculture and related sectors.“Indiana and Manitoba share common priorities and strengths in the agricultural sector that provide excellent opportunities for more collaboration and information sharing,” said Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture.


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