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SARL Members and Alumni News

Proposal would tie Oregon wolf compensation to population

Capital Press | Posted on January 29, 2018

Oregon House Bill 4106 would directly correlate the amount of compensation ranchers receive for wolf attacks on livestock with the overall wolf population statewide. House Bill 4106 requires the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to prepare a report each biennium detailing the change in wolf population over the preceding two years. Legislators would then allocate money from the general fund to the Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program based on the change.The bill is spearheaded by Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, who represents northeast Oregon where the majority of wolves live, including Wallowa County. Co-sponsors include Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass.

Cuomo to internet providers: Observe 'net neutrality' or no NY state contracts | Posted on January 29, 2018

New York state will require internet providers to observe net neutrality or risk losing eligibility for state contracts under an executive order issued Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The new policy aims to protect consumers by using the state's lucrative information technology contracts as leverage over internet companies. It's similar to one enacted through executive order Monday by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and comes as states consider how to respond after the Federal Communications Commission last month repealed its own net neutrality policy.Attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia also have sued to block the repeal of the federal policy, which had banned companies from interfering with web traffic or speeds to favor certain sites or apps. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is leading the lawsuit.

DNR board approves measure to limit manure pollution in eastern Wisconsin to protect groundwater

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Posted on January 29, 2018

The Department of Natural Resources took a major step on Wednesday to toughen standards for manure spreading after years of complaints over polluted wells and pressure from interest groups that have been pushing officials to protect Wisconsin’s most vulnerable soils. The Natural Resources Board voted 7-0 to add new restrictions on spreading across eastern Wisconsin — a region prone to manure contamination of groundwater and drinking water.The action is the first big step by the administration of Gov. Scott Walker to toughen regulatory powers to control pollution tied to agricultural practices, but the measure still faces funding shortages and an uncertain fate in the Legislature.

Colorado governor releases state’s electric vehicle plans, saying “we know that we can have a cleaner option”

The Denver Post | Posted on January 29, 2018

Colorado could have nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, according to one estimate.  Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday released broad plans to foster growth in the state’s already booming electric vehicle market, saying he believes the keys to economic development and cleaner air lie — at least in part — outside of the internal combustion engine. “They say it takes a village,” Hickenlooper told reporters while flanked by a host of electric vehicles in downtown Denver. “Really, it takes a lack of silos to get an electric vehicle framework in place. … I think it really does a great job of capturing Colorado’s vision that we are going to have a network of fast-charging stations, we’re going to be able to address what’s sometimes referred to as ‘range anxiety.’ ” The plan, which largely encompasses previous state electric-vehicle initiatives, calls for public-private partnerships to build out the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, provide a consistent refueling system across the state and Rocky Mountain West and build new relationships to bolster investment in infrastructure.

Washington legislature passes bill to settle water use dispute

Wahkiakum County Eagle | Posted on January 25, 2018

One of the year’s most important legislative battles in Washington state came to a surprisingly quick conclusion last Thursday evening when a water-use bill passed both chambers and went to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who signed it into law the next day. In 2016, the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision essentially halted development across the state when it determined that counties were not adequately examining impacts on stream and river flow levels.The decision weighed heavily on last year’s legislative session when Republicans refused to reach an agreement on a state capital budget until Democrats could devise an appropriate Hirst fix. The capital budget pays for state-funded development, and the stalemate put a delay to a number of projects across Washington, including efforts to improve schools.Inslee and party leaders were vocal heading into this year’s session that solving the Hirst/capital budget issue was a major priority, and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program that a fix was agreed upon late Jan. 17 when leaders from each chamber met with the governor.“I appreciate that the complexity of this issue required several months of negotiations by many legislators,” Inslee said in a Jan. 18 press release. “While far from perfect, this bill helps protect water resources while providing water for families in rural Washington.”

Ag Chairs Attendee, Missouri State Representative donates organ to complete stranger, and saves wife

KMBC | Posted on January 25, 2018

Missouri State Representative J. Eggleston was in surgery all day in order to help a complete stranger, and to secure an organ donation for his wife, Cathie. For years, Cathie Eggleston has suffered from kidney failure.Rep. Eggleston has a different blood type than his wife, so he's not able to donate his kidney directly to Cathie. Instead he agreed to a 'kidney swap.'The exchange involves three families whose relative or friend is not compatible with their recipient.Like an organ donation train, all three people donate their kidneys to one of the three other recipients who have similar blood types. The exchange allows each to give, and help save their loved one.Rep. Eggleston's kidney was flown to Michigan immediately after his donation on Wednesday where another person's kidney was being donated to another city in the United States. The third city is where Cathie's organ donation comes from.

Feds tell Maine: You can’t ban food stamp recipients from buying sugary drinks, candy

Portland Press Herald | Posted on January 25, 2018

For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipientsfrom using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would “revise our waiver request and resubmit it,” but she did not offer a timeline or specifics about what those revisions might be.In a Jan. 16 letter to Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Ricker Hamilton, the USDA outlined concerns that a ban would increase administrative costs; impose burdens on small businesses and retailers; choose winners and losers in the food industry; create difficult decisions about the nutritional values of allowable or excluded foods; and “restrict what individuals could eat in their own homes without demonstrating clear evidence of meaningful health outcomes.”

Arkansas approves seasonal ban on dicamba use

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 25, 2018

A group of Arkansas state legislators has approved a ban on dicamba use between April 16 and Oct. 31 of this year, meaning that soybean and cotton growers will not be able to use Monsanto's Xtendimax or BASF's Engenia for over-the-top applications. The action by the state's Legislative Council came without discussion this morning. The council's Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee also approved the seasonal ban, which was approved as a proposed rule by the Arkansas State Plant Board in November.In December, the subcommittee sent the proposal back to the plant board, asking it to review the science and consider whether to divide the state into two growing zones for purposes of regulation. The plant board rejected any changes to its proposal, which includes exemptions for the use of dicamba in pastures, rangeland, turf, ornamental, direct injection for forestry, and in the home.

Washington Legislature passes Hirst bill on wells

Capital Press | Posted on January 23, 2018

The back-to-back votes ended a yearlong standoff created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling. Some Democrats said new wells will trample tribal treaty rights. Some Republicans complained lawmakers were turning over millions of dollars to unelected watershed-restoration panels. Still, Senate Bill 6091 received bipartisan support in both chambers. “This bill provides a path forward for the people who just want to build on their few acres,” said Moses Lake Sen. Judy Warnick, the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee.The court’s decision was based on the assumption that each new well draws water from streams and harms fish. The ruling left individual landowners in the position of having to prove otherwise.

Pa. road map for agriculture's future comes 'at critical intersection' for the industry

Penn Live | Posted on January 18, 2018

Pennsylvania's agricultural industry is among the most diverse and powerful in the nation. And yet that industry faces its share of changes and challenges -- in technology, consumer tastes and a rapidly changing workforce; as well as opportunities. On Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the state unveiled its agricultural economic analysis report -- a document that it hopes will not only capture the state of agriculture now but help provide a path forward as part of a broader strategic planning process for the state's vast agricultural industry."We are at a critical intersection as an industry," said Russell Redding, the state's secretary of agriculture at an event highlighting the report. "We must be mindful of how the landscape is changing."The board umbrella of agriculture in the state has an economic impact in excess of $135 billion annually, supporting more than a half-million jobs and $26.9 billion in earnings. It includes traditional farming and forestry as well as food and forestry processing and new emerging sectors such as hydroponics and urban farming.