After successive years of devastating wildfires, California's fire agency announced a plan Tuesday that would dramatically increase the removal of dead trees and other forest management efforts with the help of the National Guard. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released a list of 35 priority fuel-reduction projects it wants to start immediately across the state over roughly 90,000 acres. That's double the acreage the agency aimed to cover in the current fiscal year, CalFire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said.The agency is also seeking National Guard assistance to coordinate the work. McLean said it was the first time he could recall turning to the National Guard for help with clearing trees and vegetation."It just goes to show you how committed everybody is," he said
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine outlined a H2Ohio water quality initiative. He is introducing the initiative as part of his proposed budget for the 2020-2021 biennium. “We cannot continue to lurch from water crisis to water crisis. I am proposing an H2Ohio initiative that would allow us to invest in targeted, long-term solutions to ensure safe and clean water across the state of Ohio,” said DeWine. DeWine said his proposal would create a special H2Ohio Fund that would be used to protect Ohio’s water quality over 10 years and could amount to approximately $900 million.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced a settlement with Diversified Gas & Oil Corp. and Diversified Oil & Gas, (collectively referred to as Diversified) and Alliance Petroleum Co LLC (Alliance) over well-plugging violations in 23 Pennsylvania counties. “This agreement is a win for the commonwealth because it ensures that over 1,400 oil and gas wells are properly maintained or plugged and that these operators, not Pennsylvania citizens, bear the full cost of operating or plugging them,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.Diversified and Alliance have agreed to a $7 million surety bond for the wells covered by this settlement, plus an additional $20,000 to $30,000 bond for each abandoned or non-producing oil and gas well acquired in the future.
New York Senator Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano are calling on the state’s Democratic legislative leaders to hold statewide public hearings on legislation that they believe could drive many family farms in New York State out of business and decimate local farm economies. The controversial legislation is known as the “Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.” “First, the profound consequences of this legislation to one of New York State’s economic and cultural cornerstones demands, at the very least, a series of statewide public hearings. We urge you to schedule hearings across every agricultural region of New York State. It is critical that you receive firsthand testimony that we believe will dispel the falsehoods and myths underlying the purported justification for the ‘Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.’”
Charlie Phillips, whose well-tended clam beds account for what he estimates is about 90 percent of the aquaculture in Georgia, would love to see the state allow oyster farming, too. But he’s adamant the current legislation making its way through the General Assembly will do more harm than good. “It’s just overly restrictive and there’s no guarantee they’re going to do any of it,” Phillips said. “Were afraid it’s going to be so restrictive it is going to be a token oyster industry and not nearly as vibrant as what it could be.”Despite objections from Phillips and other oystermen, some of whom testified against the bill, H.B. 501 sped through the state senate Natural Resources and Rules committees last week and is expected to be voted on by the full senate as early as today.
Iowa will not add investigators to handle an increased number of pesticide drift complaints, favoring instead more efficient ways to handle complaint inspections, the state’s chief agriculture officer said. “I’ve got to manage the department of ag within my budget,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said during IowaWatch’s weekly radio program that aired this weekend.“It’s true, we’ve not seen a budget increase in the pesticide bureau, and I don’t expect to see a dramatic increase in the pesticide budget. So, what we do is look at how to manage the workload with the crew that we have.”
Proposals to move the Agricultural Products Utilization Committee and authority over grain buyers to the North Dakota Agriculture Department remain alive in the North Dakota Legislature.The Legislature already rejected proposals that would have moved the state Milk Marketing Board and the North Dakota Trade Office to the Ag Department. Those agencies will stay with the state auditor’s office and the Department of Commerce, respectively.North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said he’s pleased the Milk Marketing Board will stay where it is, as more of a stand-alone entity. However, said he’s disappointed that the Trade Office will not become part of his agency and is hopeful that bills putting the Agricultural Products Utilization Committee and grain inspection under his purview will pass.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau has launched relief efforts to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities suffering from the natural disasters that have impacted the state. The relief efforts include the establishment of a disaster relief fund and launch of an online agriculture disaster exchange portal to connect those in need with those who can help. “Nebraska is a special place with special people. Many of our friends and neighbors across the state are suffering. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost or are missing loved ones, and to all those who have been impacted by the recent blizzard and massive flooding events,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “We want to do what we can to help. We believe our relief fund and information exchange can be of assistance.”Money donated to the Disaster Relief Fund will be targeted to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities affected by recent storms and flooding. Priority will be given to efforts to restore health and safety in rural communities and to farm and ranch households that have been damaged or displaced by the natural disaster.
A proposal aimed at monitoring and preventing “rollbacks” of environmental protections under the Trump administration passed the Oregon House 39-20 on March 14. Under House Bill 2250, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority would have to regularly check whether federal regulations have been rendered “significantly less protective” since the end of the Obama administration.The DEQ and OHA would then have to recommend or take actions to ensure that Oregon’s environmental standards are at least as protective as federal standards before the Trump administration took office.
It is critical that all Farm Bureau members contact your legislators to encourage passage of House Bill 545. This important Right-to-Farm (RTF) legislation faces strong opposition and will be in Senate Committee next week, so please take action today! HB 545 seeks to strengthen legal protections for farming and forestry operations from nuisance lawsuits. This legislation is in response to the recent court rulings in North Carolina that have disrupted the financial viability and existence of their agricultural operations. We do not want this to happen in Georgia!