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SARL Members and Alumni News

New Iowa law changes process for partitioning estates; goal is to help ‘save family farms’

CSG Midwest | Posted on October 25, 2018

It is too common a story line in farm country: The parents pass away, and the entire farm has to be sold to resolve inheritance disputes. In many states, when heirs can’t agree on how to split the property, one common option for a judge is to order a “partition by sale,” with the money then proportionally divided among them. 
But what if one of the family members would like to continue farming the land? “Partition by sale” doesn’t account for this desire among some heirs — a concern that led Iowa legislators to pass SF 2175 this year. “It is a bill to save family farms,” Rep. Lee Hein says of the new law, which took effect in July.Here is how the new partition process will work. First, when disagreements exist among heirs of an Iowa farm, a court-appointed “referee” will establish the value of the land. The determination of fair market value must be completed by three disinterested, knowledgeable appraisers. Each heir will then have 30 days to object to the appraisal, as well as have the chance to buy out other family members, without having to put the property up for sale.SF 2175 was passed unanimously by the Iowa House and with only one dissenting vote in the Senate.

Two more leave as Ohio Governor Kasich makes final stand on limiting Lake Erie algae

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on October 25, 2018

With less than three months remaining in office, a frustrated Ohio Gov. John Kasich is making a final stand in his bid to rid Lake Erie of algae blooms. The governor fired Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels on Friday,and followed with a swipe at fellow Republicans in the General Assembly on Tuesday over their opposition to his move for more dramatic action to clean the lake of sickly green algae that imperils drinking water and recreation.The departures at the top of the Agriculture Department were not limited to Daniels.After Daniels was fired, deputy director Janelle Mead and chief legal counsel Dustin Calhoun submitted their resignations effective Nov. 1. Mead joined the department in 2011 and oversaw legislative, communication and marketing efforts. Calhoun joined the department as its top lawyer in 2016 after serving as chief counsel at the Department of Youth Services.Kasich issued an executive order in July, asking that eight watersheds that drain into western Lake Erie be declared in distress to allow tougher limits to be imposed on farmers’ use of fertilizers that ultimately drain into the lake and fuel algae blooms. A state panel has yet to act on his request, but could vote Nov. 1.

Gerrymandering: The secret issue Ohio will vote on in the midterm election

Cincinnati Enquirer | Posted on October 25, 2018

Most Ohio voters are thinking about the economy or health care when they cast their ballots in the midterm election.But there’s another big issue looming in the background: whether Ohio’s district maps will be gerrymandered for another decade.Yes, Ohio already voted for redistricting reform -- twice. But politicians will still be in charge and have the final say on maps that will shape Ohio's political landscape for many years.Whoever is elected governor, secretary of state and auditor will be part of a new seven-member panel drawing Statehouse district lines in 2021.

Farmers in Hawaii lost $28M because of volcano

Insurance Journal | Posted on October 24, 2018

A survey of Big Island farmers has found that they suffered nearly $28 million in damages because of the months-long eruption earlier this year of the Kilauea volcano, the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported. The survey of 46 farmers by University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources found they collectively lost an estimated $27.9 million in destroyed property, the newspaper reported.Of the total damages reported, nearly two thirds, $17 million, was damage to crops, while destroyed land, buildings and inventory accounted for $4.1 million, $3.3 million and $3 million in losses, respectively, the Herald Tribune reported.The survey found that $13.3 million of the reported damages were from the floriculture industry, with another $6.5 from the papaya industry and $2.5 from the macadamia nut industry.

Kansas Forest Service, fire officials say state’s wildfire suppression capabilities inadequate

High Plains Journal | Posted on October 17, 2018

An audit of state agency responses to two recent wildfires in Kansas showed that the state’s wildfire suppression training and mitigation programs do not sufficiently prepare the state for wildfire response, according to Kansas State Forester, Larry Biles and Fire Management Officer, Mark Neely. They spoke before the state’s legislative budget committee on Oct. 3 in Topeka. “We are encouraged to see the legislature focus on what is the state’s most rapidly growing hazards – wildfires,” said Biles. Biles and Neely provided a review of the opinion from the Kansas Forest Service and KFS Advisory Council on the Legislative Post Audit on wildfire suppression in the state. 

His farm is buried under lava, but he can’t find relief from payments on his state agricultural loan

Hawaii News Now | Posted on October 17, 2018

A Big Island farmer whose fields are buried under lava says the state is still requiring him pay off a $22,000 loan on the land — even though he’s not allowed to step foot on the property.“The state of Hawaii sanctioned me to farm in lava zone 1. They knew I was in lava zone 1. They financed me," said farmer Gregg Adams, who owns Dragon Fruit Farms — about a mile beyond the checkpoint on Highway 132.“They had a vested interest in me. Now they’re saying, ‘Oh well, you still own the money.’”Despite losing everything, Adams says he’s ready to start farming some place new.However, he says a lack of help has made it all but impossible. Adams has gotten a $34,000 from FEMA to help cover the loss of his home, but has gotten nothing to help cover the loss of his farm.“May 26th is when the lava took my farm,” Adams said.“I lost my home. I lost green houses. I lost packing sheds. I lost all my equipment.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says hunter ‘tainted’ Idaho’s reputation. ‘This is not us.’

Idaho Statesman | Posted on October 17, 2018

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said Tuesday that former Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer’s hunting photos “tainted” Idaho’s reputation as they drew criticism from around the world. Fischer resigned Monday at Otter’s request — three days after the Idaho Statesman first reported that several former Fish and Game commissioners disapproved of Fischer’s photos.“We’d like to get this behind us,” Otter said, “because this is not us.”Fischer emailed more than 100 friends and colleagues last month with pictures and descriptions from the hunting kills he and his wife made on a trip to Namibia. The first photo has been the focus of many — an image of Fischer smiling behind four baboons he shot, including a juvenile. He called the animals a “family of baboons” in his email.

North Carolina lawmakers approve $400M in Florence spending

AP News | Posted on October 17, 2018

The sharp partisanship that’s typified North Carolina’s government was buried temporarily on Monday as legislators approved spending $400 million to quickly help people and communities reeling from flooding left by Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs. The emergency spending plan unveiled a month after Florence slammed into the state would help farmers and fishermen who suffered economic losses, keep college students in school despite storm-related setbacks, and repair damaged school buildings.Most of the money would come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in rainy-day funds, and this year’s state budget left $560 million unspent.“There’ll be no tax increases and no interruptions or disruptions from a budgetary perspective of any of our existing important programs,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Raleigh-area Republican who heads the House budget-writing committee.The Florence relief spending legislators have promised so far represents about a half of the $1.5 billion Gov. Roy Cooper’s office estimated last week will be needed over a five-year recovery.

Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern

Washington Post | Posted on October 17, 2018

t is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop. Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast. Brushed by ocean breeze, cannabis has taken root, offering promise and prompting the age-old question of whether there can be too much of a good thing.Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county.

Supreme Court lets stand California ruling holding lead paint makers liable for $400-million cleanup cost

Los Angeles Times | Posted on October 16, 2018

The lead paint industry’s efforts to avoid a cleanup bill for more than $400 million has reached the end of the road.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review California state court rulings finding Sherwin-Williams, Conagra and NL Industries responsible for lead paint contamination in thousands of homes built before 1951. That date is when the companies said their predecessor firms ceased actively advertising lead-based paint as a residential product. The court’s action closes a key chapter in an 18-year legal battle waged by 10 California cities and counties, including Los Angeles County and the city of San Diego. Their lawsuit, originally filed in state court in Santa Clara in 2000, asserted the residual lead in old homes was contributing to severe health problems in children exposed to the paint. "It's at the top of our list of environmental threats," Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the interim health officer and medical director for Los Angeles County, told me last year.