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SARL Members and Alumni News

Why the War on Opioids Is Entering Veterinarians’ Offices

Governing | Posted on August 29, 2017

Colorado and Maine recently enacted laws that allow or require veterinarians to check the prescription histories of pet owners as well as their pets. And Alaska, Connecticut and Virginia have imposed new limits on the amount of opioids a vet can prescribe. Veterinarians typically do not dispense such widely abused drugs as Vicodin, OxyContin or Percocet, but they do dispense Tramadol, a painkiller; ketamine, an anesthetic, and hydrocodone, an opiate used to treat coughing in dogs – controlled substances that humans abuse.But even as some states push for veterinarians to assess the records of human clients, many veterinarians maintain they’re unqualified to do so. And while a handful of states now require vets to check the prescription histories of pet owners, about two-thirds of the states explicitly prohibit it.

Abused Dogs and Cats Now Have a (Human) Voice in Connecticut Courts

The New York Times | Posted on August 29, 2017

Jessica Rubin’s turn to approach the judge came between drunken-driving cases and a series of procedural appearances best measured in seconds. She unspooled an account of how the police found eight pit bulls kept in filthy conditions with scars that looked like they came from staged fights. She read from a police report of the scene where an officer wrote that “words cannot describe the stench.” Professor Rubin, who teaches law at the University of Connecticut, had come to the Superior Court here to argue against returning two of the dogs, including one that was pregnant, to a man who claimed to own them. Instead, she said, the dogs needed to be released from animal control to rescue groups.“That’s what the advocate would recommend to the court,” Professor Rubin told the judge. “Every day that passes continues the suffering of these dogs and makes it more unlikely they can have a normal life.”Last year, Connecticut enacted a law that, according to legal experts, made it the first state to allow judges to appoint lawyers and law students as advocates for dogs and cats in cases of cruelty, abuse and neglect. The case in Manchester was one of several that Professor Rubin and her students had been assigned to, bringing them to court regularly, almost always flanked by unofficial advocates from Desmond’s Army, the assembly of activists named for the dog whose death in 2012 inspired the law.A rising movement in the criminal justice system has placed an emphasis on giving more of a voice to and adding support for crime victims. Across the country, judges routinely appoint advocates in cases involving children and the infirm.

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller Calls for Agency Fee Reductions

The Flash Today | Posted on August 29, 2017

As a result of the efficiencies and cost savings under his administration, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today has directed agency staff at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to find cuts in fees administered by his office. “I’ve been able to achieve some cost savings and managed our budget well, so just like a business, we’re passing that along to our ag producers and taxpayers by way of fee reductions,” said Commissioner Miller. “Our primary mission at the Texas Department of Agriculture is to ensure that our ag producers and the ag industry are successful and thriving. As we know, when Texas agriculture succeeds, all of Texas succeeds.”

Michigan Dept. of Ag to spur investment with $4.7M in new incentives

edairynews | Posted on August 24, 2017

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will deploy $4.7 million for its Food and Agriculture Investment Program, which it operated as a pilot project in the current fiscal year.  Officials believe the program will become a mainstay in Michigan’s economic development toolbox because it helps fill funding gaps for agribusiness expansion projects that do not meet the requirements for traditional performance-based grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. For projects to qualify for performance-based grants under the MEDC, companies must create more than 25 or 50 jobs, depending on if the company is located in a rural or urban environment. But even with large expansion projects, agribusinesses typically do not generate the required volume of jobs, sources said.Additionally, the MEDC incentives must go to retain companies in the state, which isn’t normally a concern for agribusinesses.

Marijuana states try to curb smuggling, avert US crackdown

Capital Press | Posted on August 24, 2017

Tracking legal weed from the fields and greenhouses where it’s grown to the shops where it’s sold is their main protective measure so far.

CA:cannabis czar to regulate legal pot industry

Capital Press | Posted on August 24, 2017

With recreational marijuana use just months away from being legal in California, Los Angeles has appointed a so-called cannabis czar tasked with regulating the local pot industry.

CA:State to hand out nearly $7 million in grants for soil health

Capital Press | Posted on August 24, 2017

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is offering nearly $7 million in competitive grants to assist farmers and ranchers with such soil health projects as composting, planting cover crops and reducing tillage. Under the program, paid for with cap-and-trade auction proceeds, projects would be for three years, with the third year of costs required as matching funds.“We think the Healthy Soils Program is a great opportunity, and it’s something that the farmers we work with have asked for,” said Jeanne Merrill, policy director for the California Climate and Agriculture Network, which promotes sustainable agriculture.

A pent-up threat to the Chesapeake Bay: Editorial

Penn Live | Posted on August 24, 2017

Just a few miles from the Maryland- Pennsylvania border lies the Conowingo Dam, an 88-year-old power station stopping the massive Susquehanna River, which is the source of much of the freshwater flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Since bay cleanup began, states in the Chesapeake watershed have relied on the dam to limit the flow of sediment and phosphorous further downstream, and the plan was to continue doing so for decades to come. But the dam's sediment pools are full, long before the cleanup plan projected them to be. Now Maryland, where the dam is located, and Pennsylvania, which is responsible for much of the pollution in the Susquehanna, have to decide what, if anything, to do about it.Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that the state would conduct some limited dredging behind the dam, testing the feasibility of doing so on a larger scale and determining whether there could be some use for the material recovered.But Chesapeake environmental advocates are wary, concerned that diverting focus and resources to dredging behind the dam might undermine more important environmental initiatives, such as stopping pollution from entering the Susquehanna and other rivers in the first place. That is an argument for proceeding with care, not refusing to attend to the dam.

Fate of ‘Ag Gag’ Laws May Ride on Utah, Idaho Cases

Bloomberg | Posted on August 23, 2017

In July a federal trial court struck down the Utah farm protection law as unconstitutional. A host of supporters and critics of such laws are closely watching what happens next in both the Utah case and in a similar Idaho case pending before a federal appeals court.Observers say the cases will help determine whether other states will join the nine, including Utah and Idaho, that have statues allowing criminal or civil cases against those who carry out undercover operations at animal production facilities. Or, instead, if the animal rights, environmental and other groups who challenged the Utah and Idaho laws will broaden their efforts to challenge the laws in all of the states. Utah’s law was enacted in 2012 in response to increased videotaping and other activities by animal rights groups at animal production facilities across the U.S. The law, similar to several other state statutes put into place over the past five years, makes it a crime to gain access to an agricultural site under false pretenses, and bars electronic eavesdropping, obtaining a job as a pretext for filming, and filming while trespassing.An appeal in the Idaho case has been argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which, sources say, should soon issue a ruling. When it does, the Ninth Circuit will become the first federal appeals court to rule on the constitutionality of the state statutes

Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

USDA | Posted on August 21, 2017

Farm sector net cash income is expected to decline 35 percent between 2013 and 2016, following several years of record highs—though it will remain near its recent 10-year average.  Starting in the late 1990s, the median household income for farm households has exceeded the median income of all U.S. households; in 2015, farm households had a median total household income of $76,735, a third greater than that of all U.S. households but less than that of U.S. households with a self-employed head. Federal Government payments—including disaster assistance programs and commodity program payments—are expected to be about $13 billion in 2016, and buffer swings in farm income.