A state congressional delegation from Montana has sent a second request to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service asking for an investigation into the actions of federal inspectors overseeing meat plants in that state. The lawmakers first sent a letter in December to the agency’s Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong expressing concern that small meat processors in the state were “intimidated, coerced and tormented” by federal inspectors in incidences dating back to 2005. The stories detail complaints that a Butte, Mont., processor and others made about a federal inspector who routinely required expensive upgrades that were not required by federal regulation, and allegedly issued unfounded non-compliance reports in retaliation for complaints made to the agency.
But this isn’t a column about rural neglect and decay. It’s about the new — the surprisingly vibrant business community in this tiny town of 230 people whose downtown anchor is a 154-year-old retail store. Speck can step outside his front door, glance in every direction and see a business district full of young talent: Ali in her flower shop, Blake with sawdust billowing out of his wood shop and a roadside sign down the street for Slade’s seed dealership.Believe it or not, Speck is one of a half-dozen entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s who in recent years have forged a millennial business backbone for New Providence. "We share a lot of the same ideas, the same passions," said Faris, who lives just outside of town on the family farm that was home to his father and grandfather. "We want to grow things. We want to change things."That shared passion includes their preference for a rural lifestyle that emphasizes close ties with neighbors.In their own way, each of these young entrepreneurs has seen examples through their families or through mentors of how independent local business in a small town — if you can navigate rampant economic perils — can lead to a clientele that feels more like an extended family.
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Wisconsin officials last year by an Ohio dairy no longer allowed to sell its butter in Wisconsin unless it complies with a state law requiring it to be graded.U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote Monday that a state law requiring that butter sold in Wisconsin be state or federally graded does not violate the constitutional rights of Minerva Dairy, of Minerva, Ohio. The dairy had sold artisanal butter in Wisconsin until February 2017, when state inspectors discovered, after receiving an anonymous complaint, that the butter was ungraded and ordered the company to comply with the law.
State regulators are ordering Massachusetts utilities to lower their rates to reflect the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate approved by Congress. The Department of Public Utilities on Friday instructed the utilities to account for any revenues associated with the difference between the previous and current federal corporate tax rates.
Bills introduced last week in the Kansas House and Senate would require countywide public votes on large-scale poultry project proposals like the one Tyson Foods abandoned amid public opposition in Tonganoxie. Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie, and Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said the bills would expand to poultry operations existing state law allowing public scrutiny of hog and dairy facilities.
Ohio is eliminating two state panels created to help regulate ownership of dangerous wild animals after a suicidal man released lions, tigers and other creatures at his farm in 2011. The Dangerous and Restricted Animals Advisory Board and the Dangerous Wild Animals State Emergency Response Commission will be discontinued Feb. 20. The panels were implemented as part of the state’s Dangerous Wild Animal Act passed in 2012. The law followed national outcry over a police decision to kill 49 animals that 62-year-old Terry Thompson released from his Zanesville farm before taking his own life.The advisory board reviewed rules and recommended changes for private animal ownership, while the commission oversaw local plans for managing the escape of wild animals.Sen. Troy Balderson, a Republican from Zanesville, served on the advisory board. He said both panels have accomplished their goals.
Bill sponsor State Rep. Kevin Hensley said he wants food stamp benefits to be used only on healthy food. Under the proposal, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services would create a list of what food would be allowed. Hensley said SNAP recipients could still use their own money to purchase food not covered by the food stamp program.
State lawmakers got their first glimpse at Gov. Jim Justice’s legislation to combat the opioid epidemic in West Virginia Tuesday, giving the bill high marks but cautioning that it could penalize honest doctors. The bill, which aims to reduce the number of pain pills prescribed, would allow medical licensing boards to more quickly suspend doctors if their prescriptions appear “abnormal or unusual.” The state Board of Pharmacy would flag the suspect prescriptions.
House Bill (H.B.) 2671, which he introduced last week. Its aim? To improve “the behavioral health of people in the agricultural industry.”If Wilcox’s bill is passed, which seems a good possibility given its strong bipartisan support, it will establish a task force to study the factors that lead to high rates of suicide and substance abuse, and then establish free resources aimed at increasing mental health support services and suicide prevention outreach.But who exactly will these services be for?As the bill is written now, the task force will convene representatives from the healthcare industry and various agricultural associations. But what about a representative for migrant workers or other vulnerable populations?There’s no specific language in the bill pertaining to those populations. But it does promise a free resource that must meet the following requirements: be publicly available online or via phone call; provide community-based training resources in suicide risk recognition and referral skills; and contain marketing guidelines to promote behavioral health in the agricultural industry.
SB 918 - Under this act, the General Assembly preempts the control and regulation of working animals to the exclusion of any order, ordinance, policy, or regulation by any political subdivision. For purposes of this act, "working animal" means the use of any animal for the purpose of performing a specific duty or function in business, commerce, or service, including but not limited to, animals in entertainment.