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SARL Members and Alumni News

NY Farmworkers Fight to End 80-Year Ban on Unionizing

COurthouse News Service | Posted on February 14, 2019

Contesting New York’s nearly century-long failure to protect farmworkers from wage theft and other labor abuses, an attorney urged a New York appeals court Monday to bring state law out of the Jim Crow era. “The court ruled that farmworkers do not have a constitutional right to organize, despite the very clear language in the New York Constitution giving all employees the right to organize,” said Erin Harrist, senior staff attorney at the New York City Civil Liberties Union. “Allowing this racist exclusion that continues to leave farmworkers unprotected in New York goes against our values and our laws.”New York’s labor laws are a direct descendant of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which NYCLU argues was altered at the behest of segregationist lawmakers from the South to deny black farmworkers the right to organize. 

Cider bill would eliminate 15-acre orchard requirement

Capital Press | Posted on February 14, 2019

Companies could produce fewer than 100,000 gallons of cider on Oregon farmland without locating near orchards under a bill that’s drawn fire for potentially disrupting agriculture. In 2017, Oregon lawmakers allowed cider manufacturers to operate in “exclusive farm use” zones as long as the companies own or contract with adjacent orchards.Such businesses must be on or next to orchards of at least 15 acres if they generate fewer than 100,000 gallons of cider a year and 40 acres if they produce more than that amount.Rep. David Brock Smith has sponsored House Bill 2355, which would remove the minimum orchard requirement for cider companies making fewer than 100,000 gallons a year.The owner of a 27-acre Coos County farm, Dan Pennington, testified Feb. 7 that it’s “inconceivable” for his “closed loop permaculture system” to devote 15 acres to an orchard because it’s highly diversified.

South Dakota House OKs industrial hemp bill despite Noem's call for delay

Rapid City Journal | Posted on February 14, 2019

State representatives overwhelmingly advanced legislation to legalize industrial hemp in South Dakota, just days after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem asked lawmakers to shelve the efforts this session.The 65-2 House vote came after Noem said in a statement that South Dakota isn't ready for the production of industrial hemp, contending questions remain about enforcement, taxpayer costs and effects on public safety. But House Majority Leader Lee Qualm urged support and said it's time to move forward with hemp.

South Dakota looks to ‘dramatically lower’ cost of vet school

Rapid City Journal | Posted on February 14, 2019

Without a veterinary school in South Dakota, legislators are looking at ways to make it easier on the student loans for students wanting to pursue a veterinary degree and help fill the shortage of rural vets.On Jan. 29, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee discussed the proposed 2+2 veterinary school program between South Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.The deal would replace the agreement with Iowa State University, which has been in place for around 25 years. South Dakota funds the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for South Dakota residents going to Iowa State’s vet school.It was initially supposed to cost roughly a half million dollars to put six students through four years of vet school, but tuition increases have brought the number closer to $650,000 per year.

Commercial breeders dump dogs amid Ohio’s new ‘puppy mill’ rules

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on February 14, 2019

West, a retired truck driver who lives in Champaign County west of Columbus, is part of a volunteer network that rescues unwanted dogs from commercial breeding operations — many in the Amish areas of Holmes, Knox and Coshocton counties — and finds people to adopt them. In recent months, according to one rescue group, the number of dogs has increased markedly, coinciding with Ohio’s stricter regulation of “puppy mills”  “It’s been huge,” said Jamie Runevitch, a Cleveland-area volunteer with Puppy Mill Rescue Team (, a multistate organization that coordinates pickups of dogs with other rescue teams. “We used to do one run a month. Because of increased numbers, we’re doing multiple runs a month.”The increase apparently is a result of a state law that took effect in late September and limited the number of litters a dog can produce in her lifetime to eight






Local farmers reacts to Maryland Governor helping dairy farmers

Edairy News | Posted on February 14, 2019

Local farmers are calling it a big win for the dairy industry as Governor Hogan pledged to contribute around $1.5 million in state funds. Local dairy farmer, Chuck Fry, said the past four years have been tough for the industry. Fry said that many farmers are losing their property because of the low milk prices. The assistance comes after the government passed the farm bill that left out dairy farmers. The state funds will allow farmers to be a part of a new federal funding program. The program will create up to $17 million to help those in the agriculture community.

Cap and trade: Oregon lawmakers work to adopt carbon pricing policy

Capital Press | Posted on February 14, 2019

Oregon lawmakers are considering a new carbon pricing policy during this year’s legislative session aimed at regulating greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to combat the effects of climate change. The legislation, known as cap and trade, worries many of the state’s farmers and ranchers about higher fuel and energy prices at a time when profit margins are already thin, while others see it as a needed step toward climate resilience.Agricultural groups are lobbying to protect farmers and ranchers from projected hikes in fuel and energy prices. Jenny Dresler, of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said too few safeguards are built into the bill for growers who rely on diesel fuel, gasoline and inputs made from natural gas, or who ship their products long distances.“That’s a big point for us, that a lot of rural families and farm and ranch families are going to bear a disproportionate burden of these costs,” Dresler said.

Washington internet bill popular; costs, beneficiaries unclear

Capital Press | Posted on February 12, 2019

Support was strong at a Senate hearing for spending public funds to spread the benefits of high-seed internet, but many questions remain such as how much money will be available and for whose benefit.The Inslee administration has put forward a bill to connect every home and business in Washington with internet fast-enough to meet the federal definition of broadband by 2024. A new office within the Commerce Department would oversee "central broadband planning."The bill does not appropriate a specific amount of money. As a start, Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed $25 million over the next two years for projects, plus $1.2 million for the office.

NC Agriculture Dept Seeks To Clarify CBD Rules

WFAE | Posted on February 12, 2019

The North Carolina Agriculture Department is trying to educate manufacturers and sellers of products containing cannabidiol or CBD oil. The department is sending out letters next week explaining what is legal.  Joe Reardon, assistant commissioner with the department’s consumer protection bureau, says the Food and Drug Administration considers CBD a drug. And since state laws mirror federal laws, CBD can’t be legally added to human or animal food for sale. 

New York Governor Announces $18.4 Million Available to Support Water Quality Protection Projects on New York Livestock Farms

New York Government website | Posted on February 12, 2019

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $18.4 million in grant funding is available to help New York livestock farms implement water quality protection projects. The funding will be provided through the final round of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Waste Storage and Transfer System Program, a $50 million program launched in 2017. The program is part of the Governor's historic Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which would double under the 2019-2020 Executive Budget proposal to $5 billion. The application period is currently open and closes April 16, 2019.