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SARL Members and Alumni News

Louisiana Truth in Labeling Bill Moves Forward

Louisiana State Legisture | Posted on April 25, 2019

 Read by title and passed by a vote of 34 yeas and 0 nays; ordered reengrossed and sent to the House.Food manufacturers selling products such as "cauliflower rice" could face new labeling restrictions in Louisiana, under a bill in the Legislature.The Senate voted 34-0 Monday (April 22) for a “truth in labeling” measure that adds protections for meat, rice and sugar producers.Sen. Francis Thompson, a Delhi Democrat, says he wants to ensure consumers know what they're buying.His proposal is similar to legislation signed in Arkansas. It would ban companies from classifying lab-grown meat products or meat substitutes as meat, or they'd face fines. They would be unable to call something sugar if it doesn't come from a plant-based simple sugar or sucrose.

Nberaska Solar Schools Project

Kearney Hub | Posted on April 25, 2019

Nebraska Solar Schools has been awarded $31,250 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a pilot project within its Solar Energy Education and Development Program: 100 Solar Energy Kits for 100 Nebraska Schools.The focus of the new pilot project is on K-12 schools in Nebraska towns and cities that have developed or plan to develop solar projects, including rooftop solar, solar farms or other installations.The cities and towns in the pilot project’s focus group include but are not limited to: Kearney, Lexington, Loup City, Ainsworth, Aurora, Central City, Chadron, Fremont, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Hastings, Hemingford, Lincoln, Norfolk, Omaha/Fort Calhoun, O’Neill, Pawnee City, Schuyler, Scottsbluff, South Sioux City, Superior, Venango/Grant and York.The purpose of Nebraska Solar Schools’ Solar Energy Education & Development Program is to provide resources for K-12 teachers to facilitate integration of more solar energy education into their classrooms or after-school programs.

Ohio nuclear subsidy bill designed to undermine wind and solar, experts say

Energy News Network | Posted on April 25, 2019

Analysts say legislation to subsidize Ohio’s nuclear plants through the creation of a statewide “Clean Air Program” would discourage development of wind and solar energy because it would undermine renewable energy requirements set in place a decade ago. The bill would eliminate a surcharge allowing utilities to pass along their costs for complying with the state’s renewable portfolio standard, replacing a competitive renewable energy market with subsidies that appear aimed toward existing nuclear and coal power plants.

Dairy group cries foul over new California Cattle Council

Capital Press | Posted on April 25, 2019

The California Dairy Campaign is criticizing the manner in which the California Department of Food and Agriculture established the newly approved California Cattle Council. The council will be funded by a $1 per head assessment on the sale of live cattle over 250 pounds to provide resources for defending cattle production practices in the state.Last week, CDFA announced the council was approved by 68% of those casting a ballot in a beef and dairy producer referendum.But the Dairy Campaign contends that vote does not represent the true sentiment of beef and dairy producers, who opposed a $1 increase in the beef checkoff in a 2012 referendum.The group has opposed the formation of the council and its $1 assessment from the start and urged its members to vote against it in the referendum. It is now taking issue with the referendum.Just 19% of all beef and dairy producers in the state voted in the referendum, Lynne McBride, the Dairy Campaign’s executive director, said.

Labeling bill causing friction among Oregon winemakers

Capital Press | Posted on April 25, 2019

A bill designed to protect Oregon wine from out-of-state imposters is fermenting discord within the industry. Senate Bill 111 calls on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to adopt new rules for enforcing wine labeling standards under state law, while also ensuring wineries pay a $25 per ton grape tax.The issue arose last year during a highly publicized feud between Willamette Valley winemakers and Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, based in Rutherford, Calif. Copper Cane buys grapes from about 40 Oregon growers to make two brands of Pinot noir — Elouan and The Willametter Journal.The Oregon Winegrowers Association, with help from state legislators, successfully argued those wines had deceptive labels that illegally referenced certain high-value growing regions known as American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs.SB 111 authorizes the OLCC to develop regulations against importing and selling deceptively labeled wine. It allows the commission to enter into agreements with agencies from other states, and would increase the fines for violations from $5,000 to $25,000.

ACLU of Iowa says state's new ag-gag law violates free speech protections

Des Moines Register | Posted on April 25, 2019

Iowa's second attempt to make it a crime for animal welfare activists, journalists and others to go undercover at meatpacking plants and livestock facilities will face a legal challenge. The ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the state's new ag-gag law, saying it's unconstitutional, chills free speech and criminalizes a free press."The Ag Gag 2.0 law aims to silence critics of worker rights abuses, animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, and environmental hazards in agricultural facilities," said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa.Iowa lawmakers and ag groups say the law is necessary to protect producers from groups that would use false pretense to harm farm operations.

Buffalo is launching a food waste composting program to limit waste in landfills

WKBW | Posted on April 25, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates we throw away 30 to 40 percent of our food. That's about $161 billion worth of food that ends up in landfills every year. But now the city of Buffalo is looking to do its part to change that, by launching its very own food waste collection program.All your leftover fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg and nut shells will go to the Buffalo River Compost site on Ensign Street."We grind up all the wood and mix that in a carbon-nitrogen ratio, with some fruits and vegetables and monitor all the chemical components of that and with time, turn it into a finished compost product," said Brian Murphy, owner of Buffalo River Compost.

California Hemp Bill Clears Committee On Agriculture

Hometown Station | Posted on April 25, 2019

Senate Bill 153 (SB 153) seeks to bring California’s hemp industry regulations in line with federal requirements, according to officials. “I am very pleased to see SB 153 moving with bipartisan support,” Wilk said. “Industrial hemp is a natural fit for California’s arid climate. Farmers in the Antelope Valley will be able to save five-acre-feet of water per acre by switching to it.”Wilk previously introduced and successfully passed a similar bill in 2018, SB 1409, which also sought to streamline California’s hemp production regulations and bring them into compliance with existing federal laws.Late in 2018, Congress passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which instituted new requirements for states’ plans for the licensing and regulation of industrial hemp cultivation.

On Earth Day, Cuomo signs plastic bag ban into law

Albany Times Union | Posted on April 24, 2019

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo marked Earth Day on Monday by signing into law a measure banning most single-use plastic bags, making New York the third state in the nation to enact a statewide bag policy. The ban, which goes into effect in March 2020, prohibits retailers that collect sales tax, including supermarkets and small businesses, from handing out disposable plastic bags, with a few exceptions.

Bill to fund ag programs, rural broadband passes Minnesota Senate committee

Duluth News Tribune | Posted on April 24, 2019

Legislation to fund agriculture, rural development and affordable workforce housing passed the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee this week.The comprehensive omnibus budget bill places an emphasis on rural broadband expansion, invests in affordable manufactured/modular housing and home ownership, and prioritizes value-added agriculture opportunities that directly impact farmers.Specifically, the bill makes a one-time investment in an innovative soybean processing and research facility near the University of Minnesota – Crookston; invests in the Dairy Modernization and Innovation program to help small dairy farms with small grants and low interest loans to finance the modernization of their farm infrastructure, such as robotic milking equipment; funds the Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance program to help dairy farmers with profitability; and increases dairy development grants to aid farmers in creating new business plans.