New permitting requirements for Oregon’s confined animal feeding operations have failed to gain enough support on a key legislative committee to move forward this year. Large CAFOs would have needed preliminary approval from state regulators prior to construction and final approval to begin operating under Senate Bill 876, which was killed off by a recent legislative deadline.The Oregon Department of Agriculture worked hard to contain environmental problems at Lost Valley Farm — a large dairy that went bankrupt after repeated wastewater violations — but the incident exposed regulatory weaknesses that could be easily fixed, said Sen. Mike Dembrow, D-Portland.
Recovery continues in and along the Missouri Valley in Iowa. And in Nebraska – where a dam burst on the Niobrara River leading to the collapse of many Missouri River levees and flooding downstream in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri – the landscape is bleak.As is too often the case, it ain’t over till it’s over, and it ain’t over yet.Governors in Iowa and Nebraska have declared disasters, and Nebraska has already deployed close to $12.5 million in aid to displaced workers, families, businesses, and farms hammered by the torrent of water, ice, and debris.There’s been no disaster declaration in Missouri, where at least two counties in the northwest corner received the brunt of a record-setting crest close to two feet higher than any recorded flood.Now the Missouri Valley is impassable — due to road and bridge damage, and water — from US Hwy 34 near Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and Pacific Junction, Iowa, all the way down to Rulo, Nebraska, and Big Lake Missouri, on US 159. In all, four river crossings in a row are disabled. That also includes Highway 2, which connects Iowa and Nebraska at Nebraska City; and and US 136 in Missouri at the Brownville Nebraska bridge. Those 4 closures leave a 140 mile long transportation gap in the heart of America.
A controversial proposal to allow more home-building on farmland along Oregon’s border with Idaho has survived a critical deadline, potentially keeping it viable through the end of the legislative session. Property within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region could be rezoned from “exclusive farm use” to residential uses under House Bill 2456, subject to multiple conditions.Under the amendments approved by the committee, rezoning proposals would have to be examined by a review board that would issue an opinion to the county government. Homes would also have to be built on parcels larger than 2 acres and only 200 acres could be rezoned for residential development per county, among other provisions.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a plan to cut back on the use of water from the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. The Colorado River drought contingency plan aims to keep two key reservoirs, Lakes Powell and Mead, from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower. It was negotiated among the seven states that draw water from the river.Mexico also agreed to store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border if the U.S. legislation was approved by April 22.
reed-specific legislation (BSL) targets specific breeds of dogs that are wrongly thought to all be dangerous – most frequently "pit bull types" – and places stricter regulations on these dogs or even makes ownership of them illegal. Several cities, towns and states across the United States and Canada have adopted breed-specific measures in an attempt to prevent dog bites in their communities. However, while BSL may look good on the surface, it is not a reliable or effective solution for dog bite prevention.Breed-specific laws can be difficult to enforce, especially when a dog's breed can't easily be determined or if it is of mixed breed.Breed-specific legislation is discriminatory against responsible owners and their dogs.Breed bans do not address the social issue of irresponsible pet ownership.It is not possible to calculate a bite rate for a breed or to compare rates between breeds because the data reported is often unreliable.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board unanimously approved public hearings on a proposed rule that would create a process for setting site-specific phosphorus standards on the state's bodies of water. Wisconsin already has statewide water quality standards for phosphorus, but these vary depending on the water system. Phosphorus in the water can support the growth of algae and other plants, but too much can overwhelm the system. The proposed rule would pinpoint situations where site-specific standards may be appropriate, according to Marcia Willhite, water evaluation section chief with the state Department of Natural Resources.
Yet in Idaho, as in many Western states, lawmakers can legally overturn or alter voter-approved ballot measures with little or no input from voters. And as Westerners reckon with issues that conservative governments have been reluctant to take up — including marijuana legalization, increased minimum wage, gun control and Medicaid expansion — legislators are increasingly attempting to block them, curtailing a century-old tradition of direct democracy.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has proposed spending just over $240 million over two years on the state's agriculture needs, such as meat inspectors, lab equipment and research.His proposal will have to go through a Republican Senate and a Democratic House, and will likely be modified along the way.
A new bill was introduced April 10 to give incentives to established and beginning farmers in Ohio. This bill will allow income tax credits for established farmers who sell or rent their agriculture assets to beginning farmers. A beginning farmer is defined as an individual just starting to farm or who has been operating a farm for 10 years or less. An agriculture asset is defined as agricultural land, livestock, facilities or equipment.H.B. 183 was unveiled by Reps. Susan Manchester, R-84, and John Patterson, D-99, during a news conference. There is currently one cosponsor, Rep. Jon Cross, R-83, and the bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.
As states consider the compatibility of utility-scale solar projects on farmland, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is revisiting a state policy that the industry says has acted as a barrier. Michigan’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program provides tax incentives to landowners who keep land under contract for agricultural practices for decades. In 2017, under former Gov. Rick Snyder, the state issued a policy saying commercial solar development is not compatible with the program, and landowners would have to end their farmland preservation contracts if they entered into commercial solar leases.Farmers can exit the preservation program under a variety of conditions. However, doing so in most cases means paying back the previous seven years of tax credits plus 6% interest. This has been a barrier for farmers interested in commercial solar leases.Under Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reviewing the policy, looking at both short- and long-term solutions for farmers interested in solar leases. The process could result in legislation requiring solar projects on preservation land to include agriculturally compatible features, such as raised panels allowing for grazing or shade-tolerant crops.