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Major Cannabis Company Raided in Sonoma Today

SF Weekly | Posted on June 22, 2016

Local law enforcement and Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Santa Rosa raided the production labs of prominent cannabis company Care By Design, possibly after receiving a complaint from a disgruntled former employee, according to reports. Several people were arrested and police seized equipment as well as payroll and product paperwork.  Several people were arrested, the newspaper reported, on suspicion of running afoul of drug laws. Authorities said the operation was not licensed, but it appears police were looking to bust a hash oil lab. Producing high potency cannabis oil — a popular and potent way to consume cannabis — using butane as a solvent to extract active material from plant matter runs afoul of state law banning drug manufacturing. However, according to company officials, Care By Design does not use butane, and does not create the cannais products — shatter, wax, and the like — popular with cannabis consumers who "dab."

DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

FAA | Posted on June 22, 2016

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the first   operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. Under the final rule, the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.

FSA Says Operating Loan Program Funding to Run Dry

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on June 20, 2016

For the second year in a row, USDA’s Farm Service Agency says its $2.65 billion operating loan program will likely run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year. USDA officials say the funds will likely run dry by the end of June, around three months before next year’s program starts on October first. Cash-strapped farmers and cautious banks have turned to the program amid the global grains downturn. These FSA loan guarantees and direct loans are typically considered loans of last resort, but an increasing number of agriculture lenders have turned to the program. The recent rebound in crop prices has not cooled demand. USDA data shows that at the end of May, applications for operating loans were up 23 percent and funding obligation had climbed 19 percent.

Petition asks DEA to quit treating industrial hemp like marijuana

Capital Press | Posted on June 20, 2016

A Portland attorney and a Southern Oregon environmentalist are asking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to take industrial hemp off the federal government’s list of controlled substances.  The petition is the latest move by people who believe industrial hemp could be a viable agricultural crop if the federal government didn’t classify it as an illegal drug. They have long contended hemp can be used to make food, medicine, clothing, lotions, construction material, oils and other products. Some states, Oregon among them, allow licensed hemp cultivation but keep it tightly controlled. The petition notes that 30 other countries allow hemp cultivation, including Canada. The petition letter says state economies, the environment and national security “would greatly benefit from the re-commercialization of industrial hemp in domestic agriculture and manufacturing.”

Utah’s lawsuit over federal lands nearly ready, expenses questioned

The Salt Lake Tribune | Posted on June 16, 2016

A draft of Utah's lawsuit demanding the federal government turn over 30 million acres to the state is expected to be complete by next week, but Democrats on the commission overseeing the project still want to know more about how $1 million in taxpayer dollars have been spent.  Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, co-chairman of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, said he plans to have a finished draft of the state's potential lawsuit to present to lawmakers when they hold their monthly meetings June 15. It would be up to Attorney General Sean Reyes and Gov. Gary Herbert to decide whether to file the complaint, committing the state to litigation with a projected price tag of $14 million.

The land transfer movement’s great public-lands hoax

High Country News | Posted on June 16, 2016

The disturbing thing about scams is that all too often they work.  Some are easy to spot, like the foreign cousin you didn’t know you had who calls and needs cash wired immediately.  Here in Idaho, the scam of the moment involves politicians trying hard to convince us that states should take control of public lands now managed by the federal government. Like good used car salesmen, the legislators hawking this free-the-public-lands scam want you to believe that the deal is too good to walk away from.  But a look under the hood reveals that the salesmen aren’t telling the whole story. The Wilderness Society conducted an analysis of how Idaho treats the lands it already manages.  What the nonprofit organization found makes it hard to believe that Idaho politicians wouldn’t move quickly to sell off and close access to our public lands. Of the lands granted to Idaho when it became a state, Idaho has sold off 1.7 million acres –– just over 40 percent –– of the original amount. The primary buyers have been mining and timber companies. Other state lands sold off have since been developed into strip malls, country clubs and private fishing clubs. 

Chemical safety law that gives EPA more power passes Congress

High Country News | Posted on June 16, 2016

Wednesday, June 8: The Senate Tuesday approved a major overhaul of Toxic Substances Control Act, sending it the President Obama, who is expected to quickly sign it. The normally divided Congress got together this week to take on a major overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, giving the Environmental Protection Agency broad new authority to regulate chemicals in millions of products American use every day. “When Americans go to the grocery store and hardware store, they assume products they buy have been tested and are safe; they aren’t,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, one of the bill’s chief authors, said in a press call this week.  “For the first time in 40 years we will have a working chemical safety law.”

Coalition urges rejecting national organic checkoff

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 16, 2016

A coalition representing more than 6,000 organic farmers from the western, midwestern and eastern U.S. has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reject the Organic Trade Assn.'s (OTA) proposal to establish a national organic checkoff program.  The 2014 farm bill included language that would allow USDA to institute a multi-commodity organic checkoff program, if desired by the industry. However, members of the No Organic Checkoff Coalition, representing 755 signatories, including 25 organic farmer organizations and businesses, said OTA has largely misrepresented organic industry support. In 2016, OTA has called thousands of certified organic farmers asking them to sign on in support of an organic checkoff. However, during those calls, farmers have not been given the option to register their opposition to the checkoff. Coalition members who have contacted OTA representatives in an effort to record their “no” vote have been strongly persuaded to support the checkoff or have been told that their vote would be recorded as a “maybe,” regardless of their consistent opposition. Thus, OTA data submitted to USDA on behalf of the organic industry support are inaccurate.

Spending bill chides OSHA on regs for fertilizer dealers

Agri-Pulse | Posted on June 15, 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should go through a public rulemaking process before imposing new Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations on fertilizer dealers who handle anhydrous ammonia. The fight over the requirements has been going on since OSHA issued guidance last July that revoked the so-called “retailer exemption” from the PSM standards. Ag retailers, who contend that implementing PSM requirements would cost them dearly, protested and then sued. A ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.

Mexico Will Not Add Duties To Washington Apple Exports

Growing Produce | Posted on June 15, 2016

Mexico’s Ministry of Economy released its final determination on the antidumping case filed by its domestic growers Tuesday, finding imports from the U.S. did not cause injury to the domestic industry.  The country has terminated the antidumping investigation on imports of U.S. apples without the imposition of antidumping duties, and the provisional duties ranging from 2.44% to 20.82% are revoked.