Two of the nation’s largest drug wholesalers have agreed to pay a combined $36 million to settle lawsuits that allege the companies benefited from West Virginia’s problem with prescription drug abuse. Cardinal Health, the largest supplier of drugs in West Virginia, will pay the state $20 million. AmerisourceBergen, the state’s third-largest drug distributor, agreed to pay $16 million. It’s believed to be the largest pharmaceutical settlement in state history. The lawsuits had dragged on for more than four and a half years in Boone County Circuit Court and spanned the terms of two attorneys general. The settlement money will go to drug treatment programs that help West Virginians addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers. The money will be kept in a special account at the State Auditor’s office. “We’ve taken steps to combat drug abuse in West Virginia with distributors, prescribers and pharmacists, and the money from this settlement will help us expand those efforts with additional treatment and long-term recovery options,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.
Fifteen Oregon counties must soon decide whether to opt out of a class action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion for allegedly insufficient logging in state forests. As the Jan. 25 deadline approaches, a coalition of environmental and fishing groups is urging counties and the taxing entities within them — including school and fire districts — to exit the litigation. The North Coast State Forest Coalition, which represents the seven organizations, hopes to send a message that counties and taxing districts see state forests as more than just “piggy banks,” said Chris Smith, the coalition’s coordinator. The lawsuit aims to recoup revenues lost by the counties when the State of Oregon changed forest policies in 1998 to focus on the environment and recreation instead of maximizing logging, he said.
A new veterinary certificate approved by New Zealand authorities will open that nation’s market to cooked turkey products from U.S. sources, according to a news release from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries approved the agreement after two years of direct negotiations between the regulators and USDA after new import health standards were approved there in 2015. The process of opening the pathway for U.S. turkey products in New Zealand actually began in 2002 with USDA and USAPEEC taking leading roles in recent years, the release noted. The lack of competitive local production has made New Zealand a potentially positive market for U.S. turkeys even though efforts were held up because of health concerns from New Zealand officials.
For two months in 2012, longtime Iola, Kansas, resident Mary Ross trudged through the sweltering heat, waving gnats from her view as she walked door to door with a petition. It was the hottest summer since moving there with her family about 30 years ago, but Ross was determined to gather signatures requesting a grocery store be established in the small rural town of fewer than 6,000 people. Iola had lost its last independent grocery store four years earlier, shortly after the Wal-mart Supercenter—with its own expansive aisles—came to town and drove out all of the competition.In October, Iola’s first grocery store in nearly a decade broke ground, thanks to a unique public-private partnership. Allen County agreed to sell property for it at a steep discount to G&W Foods Inc., a Missouri-based chain with stores scattered throughout the region. “Basically, our community said that having a supermarket on this site is a priority, and we’re willing to put some skin in the game,” says David Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County, a health and wellness center. But the problem is bigger than Iola.
Once-bustling Renwick, Iowa, lost its grocery, hardware store, school and Ford dealership years ago, but when its sole bar closed last June, it seemed to some residents there wasn't much of a town left. So a group of seven friends and spouses who had met for beers at the bar for decades took matters into their own hands. One of them bought the place and the others pooled their money to fix it up, showing up after work to replace floors and walls on steamy summer nights before reopening in September as the Blue Moose Saloon. It was an impressive achievement but one that is becoming more common as population continues to trickle away from rural America. Residents of some towns are scrambling to hold on to at least a few places where people can still get together. It's not just bars but groceries, cafes and other stores.
The rural-urban divide that splits many states hasn’t reached Idaho yet, a new survey shows. The University of Idaho survey found that residents of Idaho’s two main urban counties see eye-to-eye with their rural counterparts in Owyhee County on many natural resource issues, such as public lands grazing and logging. Owyhee County in southwestern Idaho is heavily dependent on agriculture, particularly raising livestock. Some 80 percent of the county’s economic output is tied to the farming industry.
The University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and School of Law are helping the Quapaw Tribe design and build a meat processing plant near Miami, Okla., to produce and maintain a sustainable local food supply, the college announced in a news release. The $1 million facility, expected to begin operations in May 2017, also will provide the school’s students opportunities for training. The plant will include a classroom, laboratory and test kitchen, and is being designed to process up to 50
A package of bills intended to keep pets away from known animal abusers was signed into law Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. The bills passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support in December. The bills allow Michigan animal shelters to conduct a criminal background check using the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) and determine whether someone has a criminal history of animal abuse before allowing adoption of an animal. Earlier versions of the bills would have required a criminal background check, but the legislation was watered down during the recent lame duck session.
City council in Fremont, Nebraska, unanimously approves plans that would expand proposed size of poultry plant and hatchery. The new plans state that the plant would cover an area of 360,000 square feet, up substantially from the earlier proposed size of 250,000 square feet. The other amended plan is for an associated hatchery. The first proposal was for the hatchery to cover 75,000 square feet, but the revision calls for 85,000 square feet.Fremont citizens in attendance at the council meeting voiced worries that the city may end up paying more for infrastructure improvements to support the larger poultry plant.In order to support the poultry plant between 50 and 75 contract growers would be needed to raise nearly 17 million broilers annually. Nebraska currently has about 1 million broilers
As we approach the end of 2016, charities across America will be passing the hat. As usual, people should do their homework and make sure they give to a group that will use their money as intended. That means cross the Humane Society of the United States (doesn’t run a single pet shelter) and PETA (wastes money on juvenile street theater) off your list if you’re a discerning donor. It turns out things aren’t much better overseas. According to PETA Germany’s financials—viewable here if you sprechen some Deutsch—almost half the group’s donations are spent on staff salaries. Most of the remainder is spent on PR. And not a dime from these financials appears to go towards feeding a cat, dog, or any other animal, with other expenses being for legal work, rent, depreciation, and travel. Perhaps it’s for the better that PETA doesn’t appear to run any animal centers in Germany. PETA does run an animal shelter here in the US at its Virginia headquarters, but the food it gives to pets may consist of their last meal. According to a filing PETA made with the state, in 2015 it killed about 1,500 animals at its headquarters and had an adoption rate of just 3%.