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SARL Members and Alumni News

Webinar—Recent Developments in Agriculture & Food Law: Impacts on States

Midwestern Legislative Conference | Posted on June 8, 2017

Agriculture and food law, at the local, state and national level is changing constantly and impacting our farmers, foresters, food producers, rural residents. It is almost impossible for state legislators to stay abreast of the legal challenges and changes impacting their constituents and state laws.  In collaboration with the National Agricultural Law Center, the regional offices of the Council of State Governments and State Agriculture and Rural Leaders will present an agriculture and food law update webinar that will address developments related to:the Waters of the United States rule;state "purple paint" trespassing legislation; property tax assessment for farmland; the Philadelphia soda tax; a stay on organic practice rules; and other recent legal developments in agriculture and food legislation and law.The National Agricultural Law Center (headquartered at the University of Arkansas) is the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information, and is collaborating with the Midwestern Legislative Conference Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to bring this webinar to you on a pilot basis. If there are specific agriculture, natural resource, or food law question you might want to have specifically included, please let Carolyn Orr know.  We will be able to take additional questions during the webinar.After registering for the webinar, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join. If you are unable to attend, register now and a link to the recording will be sent to you.

Montana Governor Announces $1.1 Million to Help Montana Main Street Businesses Create Jobs, Train Employees and Plan for Growth | Posted on June 7, 2017

Governor Steve Bullock  announced $1,124,030 in economic development grants to assist Main Street businesses across Montana with creating 116 jobs, providing workforce training and developing plans for growth and expansion. “As Montana’s strong economy continues to grow, Main Street businesses in communities across the state are adding jobs and seeking a skilled workforce to fill them,” Governor Bullock said. “These funds will help businesses plan for responsible growth and train employees for success.”The funds are being awarded through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG) programs at the Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism and Business Development.BSTF provides state funds to promote long-term stable economic growth in Montana through two categories: job creation and planning. More information can be found at provides state funds to assist business with the training of new jobs.

Texas Dept of Agriculture starts Radio Show!

Texas Dept of Agriculture | Posted on June 7, 2017

The Texas Department of Agriculture has partnered with KRFE AM 580 in Lubbock for a new weekly radio show, Texas Agriculture Matters. This show will air throughout the week — on Tuesdays and Fridays — on KRFE and will feature the latest news about what’s happening at TDA and in our ag industry. The show will also help listeners learn more about TDA in our Did You Know and GO TEXAN segments. Each week, you’ll hear from a special guest who will sit down with our host, Rick Rhodes. Rhodes is a longtime member of TDA’s team and currently serves as TDA’s administrator for the Office of Rural Affairs.  Be sure to tune into KRFE AM 580 in Lubbock to hear each episode of Texas Agriculture Matters. The show will air at 1:25 p.m. on Tuesdays and just after 6 p.m. on Fridays.

NY lawmakers vote to strengthen animal cruelty penalties

NY Daily News | Posted on June 7, 2017

People convicted of extreme animal cruelty would be prohibited from owning a companion animal under legislation passed by the New York state Senate. The Senate also voted to increase potential jail time and fines for aggravated animal cruelty and require offenders to undergo psychological testing.The measures were passed on the Legislature's annual animal advocacy day, which brought several dogs, captive owls, hawks, reptiles and one pony to the state Capitol for a day of lobbying and outreach.

Cattle Producers Call Nebraska Brand Rules Obsolete

Courthouse News | Posted on June 7, 2017

Challenging a Nebraska law that requires all cattle to be branded, operators of cattle feedlots cast the practice as obsolete and costly in a federal complaint.The Nebraska Beef Producers Committee, a nonprofit that filed the lawsuit at hand Tuesday in Lincoln, notes that the regulations hearken to a bygone era.Back when the Nebraska Legislature formed a committee to investigate stolen cattle in 1941, livestock operations “were often located in large, open, rural settings with limited human oversight,” the 13-page complaint states.Today, however, the Brand Act’s relevance is waning, and the cattle producers say their members deserve credit.“Members of the NBPC have implemented multiple means of improving cattle security, reducing the risk of theft or loss, and identifying cattle beyond the branding process,” the complaint states.In addition to branding and ear tags, ranchers say electronic identification devices or EIDS have been critical in reducing the risk of theft.“In particular, EIDs and other identification methods have enabled a thorough inventory system with detailed records of each animal including origin, location on the facility, health issues, statistics, and other pertinent information,” the complaint states.The NBPC notes that its members also use multiple layers of fencing to reduce the chance of a breach or stray, and that federal guidelines have made the state branding law redundant.

Hard Times Come to Much of Rural America

Wall Street Journal | Posted on June 7, 2017

Scarcity of capital for small businesses has accelerated the crisis described in “Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’” by stunting the growth of young businesses. Businesses in rural towns are starving for equal access to capital that has benefited urban areas for decades. Scarcity of capital for small businesses has accelerated the crisis described in “Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’”  by stunting the growth of young businesses. Traditionally, a rural business owner or enterprising farmer who needed assistance to purchase farm or manufacturing equipment or even warehouse space would go to the community bank or farm credit office and acquire a loan. Today there are far fewer community banks, and those remaining lenders have higher credit and liquidity standards. Federal lending standards have made loans cost-prohibitive for many entrepreneurs. Furthermore, big banks have decreased their loan volumes to small businesses, creating a widening lending gap.

$100-mln joint-venture beef plant opens in Idaho

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on June 7, 2017

A cattle harvest and processing plant first announced by partners Caviness Beef Packers and J.R. Simplot Co. in early 2015 has opened for business in Kuna, Idaho, about six months after it originally was scheduled to begin operations.  The CS Beef Packers joint venture near Boise is a 370,000-sq.-ft. facility that is expected to eventually process as many as 1,700 head per day, eliminating the need for local ranches and farms to move their herds hundreds of miles to other packing plants. The new plant also is expected to bring a total of 700 jobs to the area when it reaches full capacity.

New York Governor Announces Over $1 Million to Support Agricultural Development Across the State

New York State | Posted on June 7, 2017

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced over $1 million for seven research, promotion, and development projects to strengthen New York State's diverse agricultural industry and spur economic growth across the state. The funding, approved by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, supports the continuation of malting barley research, enhances the processing capacity at a regional food hub, and assists with renovations to the New York Wine and Culinary Center, among other initiatives.

Food sovereignty bill passes in Maine House, Senate

Bangor Daily News | Posted on June 6, 2017

A food sovereignty law in Maine moved one step closer to reality after the state House and Senate approved a bill giving towns and communities the authority to enact ordinances regulating local food and water distribution free from state control. On Wednesday the House passed LD 725, An Act to recognize local control regarding food and water systems, with a supermajority 109-35 following a brief floor debate.That same day, the bill passed through the Maine Senate without a roll-call vote taken.Speaking in favor of LD 725 during the floor debate, Rep. Don Marean, R-Hollis, said face-to-face transactions and local control is what the bill is is about. “What can be better than that?” he said Friday morning. “It’s not necessarily good for everyone in Maine, but it is certainly good for people living in rural areas who know their neighbors, who go to their farms and can see and assess for themselves if the produce or meat is safe to eat.”Marean, who said he has supported food sovereignty legislation in the past, said there are times the state tries to “over regulate” things.To date, 18 Maine towns in seven counties have declared food sovereignty with local ordinances giving residents the right to produce, sell, purchase and consume local foods of their own choosing in Sedgwick, Blue Hill, Penobscot, Trenton, Hope, Appleton, Isle Au Haut, Plymouth, Livermore, Freedom, Moscow, Solon, Bingham, Brooklin, Liberty, Madison and Alexander. Sponsored by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, LD 725 would authorize municipal governments to adopt ordinances regulating their own food systems and the transporting of water for commercial purposes. It further requires the state to recognize those ordinances.

Connecticut experiments with Cuurt Advocates for abused animals

Custom Wire | Posted on June 6, 2017

Many states have victim's advocates or child advocates, people in the judicial system who represent those affected by crime or abuse. Now, one state has created legal advocates for abused animals, an experiment being watched across the nation for signs of success. There are eight approved volunteer advocates across Connecticut - seven lawyers and a UConn law professor, working with her students. It's up to a judge to decide whether to appoint one, but they can be requested by prosecutors or defense attorneys. In the first six months of the law, advocates have been appointed in five cases."Every state has the problem of overburdened courts that understandably prioritize human cases over animal cases in allocating resources," said University of Connecticut professor Jessica Rubin, a specialist in animal law. "Here's a way to help."The American Kennel Club, though, opposed the legislation, saying it could result in confusion over who is responsible for an animal and limit the rights of animal owners, including in cases in which someone else is charged with the abuse.Supporters say those issues are easily handled by a judge.The law was created by the Legislature and went into effect late last year. "Desmond's Law" was named for a dog that was beaten, starved and strangled by its owner, Alex Wullaert, who admitted to the violence but avoided jail time under a probation program for first-time offenders that allowed his record to be wiped clean.