As devastating images of the 2019 Midwest floods fade from view, an insidious and longer-term problem is emerging across its vast plains: The loss of topsoil that much of the nation’s food supply relies on. Today, Midwest farmers are facing millions of bushels of damaged crops such as soybean and corn. This spring’s heavy rains have already caused record flooding, which could continue into May and June, and some government officials have said it could take farmers years to recover.As scientists who have a combined 80 years of experience studying soil processes, we see clearly that many long-term problems farmers face from floodwaters are steeped in the soil. This leads us to conclude that farmers may need to take far more active measures to manage soil health in the future as weather changes occur more drastically due to climate change and other factors.
The Missouri House passed legislation that could effectively block one of the nation’s largest wind energy projects by prohibiting its developers from using eminent domain to run a high-voltage power line across the Midwest. The House vote targets a $2.3 billion project that would carry electricity generated by Kansas windmills on a 780-mile (1,255-kilometer) path across rural Missouri and Illinois before hooking into a power grid in Indiana serving eastern states.The project’s private developers say it has the potential to bring affordable, renewable energy to millions of homes. But the long-delayed power line has faced opposition from some property owners in its path and trouble clearing some regulatory requirements.
New Jersey utility customers are officially committed to paying $300 million each year for the next three years to keep the state’s three remaining nuclear reactors open. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities decided Thursday to award Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), the state’s largest utility, three “Zero Emission Certificates” — massive subsidies that have been fiercely debated in Trenton for well over a year.
Michigan farmers can plant industrial hemp this year, under a new pilot program announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Michigan is uniquely positioned to grow, process and manufacture industrial hemp. We are one of the nation’s most agriculturally diverse states -- growing 300 different commodities on a commercial basis -- making it a natural fit,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This emerging crop not only cultivates new opportunity for our farming community, but it also creates an avenue for new businesses to crop up across the state.” Industrial hemp became legal in Michigan as a result of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act that voters approved in November 2018, just a month before the federal government legalized hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts expressed his disapproval Monday morning of legislation that would tax veterinary services.Ricketts toured the Veterinary Centers of American and joined with veterinarians to ask lawmakers not to raise taxes. "We're here today to say keep your paws off of our pet healthcare," he said.The governor addressed proposals in the legislature that supporters said are needed to balance revenue lost if property tax relief is passed.Ricketts said no tax increase would help."I'm against raising all the taxes. We've done this in the past. When I say we, the legislature has raised taxes in the past and all it has done is led to more spending," he said.
Truck drivers hauling crops will have some leeway before getting a ticket for exceeding weight limits, according to a bill passed Monday by the state House. Senate Bill 5883 will let drivers carrying crops exceed weight limits by up to 5% twice in a calendar year. Farm lobbyists said that rain can make crops heavier than expected.The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said at a hearing this session the legislation will help growers during harvest season."This is about farmers getting their product out of the field," he said. "It's nigh impossible for that truck to be weighed so that the farm knows exactly what the weight is."The version of the bill passed by the Senate gave drivers four warnings instead of two. The Senate will have to OK the revisions. King accepts the House changes to his bill, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Arizona students could have a public university option to study veterinary medicine as soon as next year, if the University of Arizona's plan for a new program is approved by accreditors. A new college for veterinary medicine would open and begin enrolling students by fall 2020 under the university's plan.UA has worked to open a veterinary-medicine program for several years, but so far hasn't convinced the accrediting body, the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Education, to bless it.
The Idaho Legislature and Gov. Brad Little have approved $8 million for construction of a state Department of Agriculture pathology lab. The funding is included in Senate Bill 1198, the $70.35 million appropriation to the state Permanent Building Fund for the fiscal year that starts July 1.Estimated cost of the 20,000-square-foot Agricultural Health Laboratory is $10 million, including $2 million in dedicated revenue from ISDA fees for services such as livestock disease testing.It will accommodate recent and anticipated growth in demand, ISDA said. It will have about 50% more usable space than the current facility, a 1965 building shared with the state Department of Health and Welfare Bureau of Laboratories.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Thursday signed into law a 100% renewable energy mandate that the hurricane-battered island must meet by 2050. The Public Energy Policy Law of Puerto Rico, passed last month by territory legislators, directs the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to source 40% of its power from renewables by 2025 and cease burning coal in 2028 on its way to 100% renewables. The signing comes days after a Department of Energy official recommended the installation of a large gas generator in San Juan, but admitted it "may be at odds" with the 100% goal. PREPA's CEO told reporters it is evaluating the proposal in its revised integrated resource plan
Washington's House of Representatives on Thursday approved a 100% clean energy bill, following Senate approval on March 1, making it the fourth state in the country to commit to such a goal. Senate Bill 5116 passed the House 56-42, and will require the state to power 100% of its electricity from carbon-free resources by 2045. The legislation phases out coal entirely by 2025 and requires all electricity sales to be carbon-neutral by 2030.The bill was amended in the House so will still need to be reconciled in the Senate. Then, the bill will move on to Gov. Jay Inslee, D, who released a clean energy legislative package in December, which included five policy goals to reduce the state's carbon emissions, including the 2045 and 2025 goals in the bill.