Yesterday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a cease and desist letter to Deputy Director Thomas Homan of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, threatening legal action if there wasn't an immediate stop to their "reckless and unconstitutional" enforcement actions. Cuomo’s response came following last week’s ICE arrest of John Collins, a dairy farmer near Rome, N.Y. In his letter to Homan, the Cuomo cited the arrest as “an example of the kind of egregious and unconstitutional conduct your agents routinely engage.”
New York State is reminding farmers that several tax credit programs are available to help them offset business and labor costs for the 2018 tax season. The Farm Workforce Retention Credit has increased to $300 per eligible farm employee who works at least 500 hours annually, and it will increase to $500 in the 2019 tax year. The Retention Credit is expected to save farmers an estimated $14 million this year, according to the state.The Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit is also available for farms who employ students ages 16-20 who are paid the New York minimum wage.
So where was the remaining money spent? During an hour-long meeting with The Oklahoman, department officials struggled to explain exactly where the money had been shifted, but said the department can account for every dollar it spends. More than likely, it was shifted to another area in the department's supplies category, Dowler said, but it's not possible to directly tie what was purchased to the originating account.Even though a line item is developed, the department tends not to focus on the more granular sub-categories of its budget, Dowler said.
The message that plastic increasingly fills waste landfills and oceans peaked this spring, as Earth Month in April focused on plastic pollution. In recent years, some states have restricted the use of plastic bags. Other cities across the U.S. have banned plastic straws. It’s not the case in Iowa. Last year, it became Iowa law that cities and counties were barred from banning plastic bags. Plastic straws continue to be a big hit at Iowa restaurants: A check of a dozen popular Des Moines restaurants showed none has quit offering drinking straws.Iowa landfills are fast becoming reservoirs of plastic, which can take more than 400 years to degrade, according to National Geographic.On Tuesday, there was one small indication that some are getting the message.The Metro Waste Authority announced the winner of its Plastic Bag Swap. Residents of 21 Des Moines-area communities were asked to bring in their plastic bags throughout April to be weighed and swapped for a reusable tote. The agency collected 3,168 pounds of bags, more than doubling last year’s total.
This year, the Iowa State Fair will feature a new adults-only Fair After Dark series, giving attendees a behind-the-scenes experience that they won’t get with regular admission to the fair. The first two events will be Animals After Dark and Agriculture After Dark. Animals After Dark will be held Friday, August 10. Agriculture After Dark will be held Thursday, August 16.Both events run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and cost $20 per person. Alcohol will be available at the events, so attendees must be 21 or older.Slater said the Fair After Dark series could expand to other areas of the fairgrounds if the first year is successful.
New York state is investing money in nearly three dozen local farms to help them curb carbon emissions and prepare for climate change. The office of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the state will spend $2.2 million on the program, now in its fourth year.The money will go to 34 farms around the state. The program is intended to fund efforts to make farms more water and energy efficient, and to help them prepare for droughts or severe weather.Some farms will spend the money on cover crops to prevent erosion and suck up carbon. Others will use the funds for efforts to capture methane from manure.
How much is that doggie in the window? That question may become just an old song title instead of a hopeful customer inquiry, if a trend continues against selling certain animals in pet stores.Maryland recently became the second state to ban retail pet stores from selling puppies and kittens, a move supporters of the legislation say will help discourage “puppy mills” that breed dogs in inhumane conditions and euthanize the animals when they are no longer able to breed. The law follows a similar one passed last year in California, though the Golden State will allow shops to sell cats, dogs and rabbits that came from shelters and rescue centers.More than 250 municipalities have imposed their own bans or restrictions on pet sales and breeders. This fall, Ohio voters will decide whether to approve a statewide referendum that would require commercial breeders to meet prescribed standards of animal care and treatment, and would prohibit breeders and sellers – wherever they are located – from peddling pets to Ohio consumers unless those humane standards are met. And state lawmakers in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are working on their own legislation to ban puppy- and kitten-mill pet sales or encourage municipalities to do so.
The Kasich administration and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are poised to take a stronger regulatory approach to cleaning up the state’s waters, including the open waters of Lake Erie. Three weeks after declaring the western portion of Lake Erie impaired, the Ohio EPA, on April 16, released a study showing “no clear trend” of a nutrient loading decrease in most of the state’s watersheds, citing agriculture and other nonpoint sources as the main contributor. The study, known as the Nutrient Mass Balance Study, also found that the state is far from reaching its target of a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus loading into lake Erie, set in a 2012 agreement between the U.S. and Canada. Up until now, the state has been focused on voluntary efforts by farmers and private landowners, as well as new regulations that require farmers to be certified to apply fertilizer, and to avoid applying to frozen and snow-covered ground. But more regulations could be coming, as state leaders say they need more evidence.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has added an emergency rescue package to help struggling dairy farmers get through a very difficult year so far in 2018. Wholesale milk prices remain below the cost of production for many northeast dairy operations. "Help is on the way," said Sen. Robert Starr, chairman of the Agriculture Committee.The package includes access to low-cost loans of up to $150,000 to help cash-strapped farmers buy fertilizer and feed for the spring.Taxpayers would help buy down loan interest rates at a cost of $250,000.The second component will pay a portion of the federal premium to enroll in the USDA's milk margin protection program.
Americans say they care more about animal welfare than children’s education and hunger. That’s according to the findings of the “Causes Americans Care About,” a new study that gathered responses from 1,000 adults, 41% of which chose animal welfare number one. Children’s education ranked second with 38% of respondents, followed by hunger, chosen by 33% of respondents. The top five causes Americans care about in 2018 is rounded out by disease research (No. 4) and disaster relief (No. 5), which bumped the environment out of the top five to the No. 6 position this year. Environmental issues dropped by 10 points in the last year, from being rated as important by 34 percent in 2017 to 24 percent in 2018.The study revealed diverging opinions about the cause landscape according to generation, ethnicity and household income:Those 35 and older were more likely to identify animal welfare (43 percent) as a top cause, while young adults (ages 18 to 34) chose children’s education (44 percent) over animal welfare (37 percent).