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SARL Members and Alumni News

State officials let mega-dairy use loophole to tap endangered Oregon aquifer

Idaho Statesman Journal | Posted on March 26, 2018

A year after it opened, Oregon’s second-largest dairy has not secured rights to the nearly 1 million gallons of water per day it needs for its thousands of cows and to process milk. Instead, Lost Valley Farm near Boardman moved ahead without the necessary permits, using a loophole in Oregon law to pull water out of an underground aquifer that’s been off limits to new wells for 42 years, alarming neighboring farmers who say their water supplies are now at risk.Documents obtained by the Statesman Journal show Gov. Kate Brown, her staff and the directors of three state agencies knew the dairy would fall back on the loophole if a proposed water trade was challenged.But with dairy owner Greg te Velde rushing to meet a deadline to receive bank financing and move his 8,000 cows — and with the promise of 150 jobs for rural Morrow County — state officials allowed the dairy to open anyway. In 2016, the dairy drilled three wells into the already-dwindling aquifer without telling the state, as required by law, and refused to register them for months after state officials found out.

Wyoming Legislature approves funding for agricultural land conservation projects

High Plains Journal | Posted on March 26, 2018

The Wyoming Legislature has approved an allocation of $1.95 million from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, to the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust to help conserve over 6,300 acres of agricultural land in the state. The funding was originally granted in 2017 by WWNRT’s Board of Directors. This grant funding at the state level is one of the first steps in the process to complete these conservation easements which are expected to close in late 2019 or early 2020. The completion of these projects will permanently conserve multi-generational ranches and thousands of acres of critical wildlife habitat and open space.

New York lawmaker wants medical marijuana for pets

Democrat and Chronicle | Posted on March 26, 2018

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County, introduced legislation Thursday that would change New York law to allow veterinarians to prescribe medical marijuana to animals. "Medical marijuana has helped countless people in the management and treatment of chronic and debilitating illnesses," Paulin's bill states. "Research suggests that animals can also benefit from cannabis use to similarly treat their ailments." Nevada and California are also considering legislation to legalize medical marijuana for animals, saying it could help pets with chronic illnesses.

Washington Ecology starts inquiry into best farm practices

Capital Press | Posted on March 22, 2018

A long-planned look at the best ways Washington farmers and ranchers can prevent water pollution has been begun by the Department of Ecology. The review was triggered by criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency that the state’s plan to control agricultural runoff was too vague. In response, Ecology has formed a 26-member committee that includes farm groups, environmental organizations, tribes and conservation districts.Ecology says the committee will look at 12 broad categories — such as storing manure or planting stream buffers — to identify pollution-control measures that are effective, practical and voluntary.

Georgia boosts its spending for struggling rural areas

Atlanta Journal Constitution | Posted on March 22, 2018

Legislative leaders are pouring more than $40 million into new or expanded programs aimed specifically at helping the economy of small-town Georgia. Fixing some of the economic ills that plague rural Georgia was always going to be a major theme of the 2018 General Assembly session after both chambers committed to dozens of hearings across the state last year to find out what they could do. The efforts are focused on counties losing population and jobs to cities, leaving behind areas with few prospects for economic growth. Of Georgia’s 159 counties, 124 of them had less than 5 percent population growth for five straight years. Both chambers have also backed funding for a Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability and for a Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovations, likely to be housed at one of the state’s universities in South Georgia.In the budget for the upcoming year, which begins July 1, the House added money to increase payments to hospitals handling triage cases — with rural hospitals getting a bigger supplement than urban ones — and to have a residency recruitment fair in hopes of attracting more doctors to small-town Georgia.

Missouri Department of Agriculture program helps farmers bulk up branding

Hannibal Courier Post | Posted on March 22, 2018

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has funds available to assist Missouri producers with the cost associated with relabeling Missouri agriculture products for retail sale.

To Prevent Suicides and School Shootings, More States Embrace Anonymous Tip Lines

Pew | Posted on March 22, 2018

In Colorado, at least two high school students were arrested based on information sent to the state anonymous tip line and mobile app, known as Safe2Tell. “They had a list, they had weapons, they knew exactly what they wanted to do,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, whose office administers the program.  States across the country are responding to high-profile school shootings and rising teen suicide rates by creating tip lines modeled on Colorado’s. The programs aim to prevent young people from behaving dangerously, whether that means bullying, using drugs or killing someone. Coffman said that Safe2Tell has saved lives in Colorado, and that such a system could have prevented the Parkland shooting. Nikolas Cruz, the expelled student who has admitted to shooting his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a long record of disturbing behavior but it didn’t provoke a sufficient response from local authorities. A tipster’s warning to an FBI hotline was never communicated to local law enforcement.

Technology can help clean Pennsylvania's water

The Daily Item | Posted on March 22, 2018

Newtrient would like to commend the Pennsylvania Senate for its passage of Senate Bill 799, which will open the door for dynamic, new technologies to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, address Pennsylvania’s growing drinking water crisis and support Growing Greener initiatives. Many factors contribute to Pennsylvania’s water quality problem, including agricultural runoff from Pennsylvania’s long-standing livestock population. Livestock, however, provides viable solutions for the state’s complex water challenges. We know Senate Bill 799 is going to help because it will provide farmers with access to more than 100 new technologies to reduce manure impacts. SB 799 will direct taxpayer funding away from expensive infrastructure projects to low cost on-farm reductions. Senate Bill 799 will transfer the performance risk of reducing nutrient losses to that portion of the private sector, which can deploy comparatively low-cost technologies and have significantly greater impacts. Most importantly, many of these manure management technologies can reduce the nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and other greenhouse gas impacts from livestock manure that are the most costly and difficult to capture by the current publicly financed facilities.

Cargill says certified sustainable beef model works

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 22, 2018

Cargill said the first three months of its Canadian beef sustainability pilot project produced encouraging results, proving the model works and showing significant potential to scale the program to bring a greater volume of certified sustainable beef to Canadian consumers.

Feral cats make Western Governor's list of invasive species

Fox News | Posted on March 22, 2018

Weeds, feral cats, insects and other pests are invading the U.S. West, and state governors released a list of the worst offenders in hopes of helping people recognize and eradicate the invaders before they spread. The Western Governors' Association cataloged the top 50 invasive species in their region, saying the pests have already caused billions of dollars in damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Some of the species on the governors' list have been in the headlines before, including water-gulping salt cedar trees and quagga mussels. Others may be surprises, such as feral cats.