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SARL Members and Alumni News

With second ‘ag gag’ law struck down, eyes turn to appeals courts

Capital Press | Posted on July 14, 2017

With so-called “ag gag” laws getting struck down in Idaho and Utah, the fate of such statutes is expected to be decided by federal appellate courts with jurisdiction over 15 Western states. Two neighboring states, Idaho and Utah, enacted laws barring people from gaining entry to farms under false pretenses to film agricultural operations.The statutes were prompted by broadly publicized undercover videos that depicted animal abuse at livestock facilities.A federal judge recently found Utah’s statute to unconstitutionally violate free speech rights, largely on the same grounds that Idaho’s law was earlier invalidated.The ruling in Idaho is already being reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while the Utah opinion is expected to be challenged before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Together, the federal appellate courts have jurisdiction over 15 Western states.However, the 9th Circuit is widely viewed as more liberal than the 10th Circuit, potentially setting up a “circuit split” on the laws that would invite U.S. Supreme Court review, experts say.Despite its conservative reputation, the 10th Circuit is likely to uphold U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s recent ruling against Utah’s statute, said Stewart Gollan, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which sued to oppose the laws.False statements, such as those used to obtain farm jobs, would likely be protected under a Supreme Court precedent that threw out a law criminalizing lies about military service, he said.

Iowa agriculture in the global economy, explained in 7 charts

The Gazette | Posted on July 14, 2017

The impacts of agriculture in Iowa reach around the world. $1,176 million in corn alone was exported in 2016.  Explore 7 charts below that help put Iowa's agriculture economy into the global context - from top exports, to where Iowa products go, to how production has changed over time. 

America’s Aging Infrastructure: Waterways Face Critical Juncture

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 13, 2017

A network of dams and locks that make commercial river traffic possible is at risk of failure after decades of underinvestment, potentially causing significant economic damage

Idaho leads nation in personal income growth due to strong farm earnings

Capital Press | Posted on July 13, 2017

Idaho led the nation in personal income growth during the first three months of 2017, economists say, and the gain was driven largely by strong farm earnings.

Fish or farms? A new battle rages over California water

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on July 13, 2017

Fish or farms?  The House this week will tackle the question, which for years has triggered a tug-of-war between growers and environmentalists. It plans to vote on a Republican-authored plan aimed at sending more of northern California’s water to the Central Valley farmers who say they badly need it.But California’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, vow to block the bill in that chamber, saying it would bypass environmental safeguards and override state law. Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the bill.The bill, said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in an interview, “does not strike the right balance because there’s no reason that we have to accept a false choice and somehow weaken the Endangered Species Act in order to be smarter with water policy.”

License-fee dispute ousts staff at Ohio Division of Wildlife

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on July 13, 2017

There has been a bloodletting at the top of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  Eight senior officials, including the chief, have been removed from their posts after a bid to increase the cost of in-state hunting and fishing licenses divided the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.On one side was former chief Ray Petering and a coalition of 41 sporting organizations that support higher fees to help meet the division’s needs. On the other, advocates say, was Jim Zehringer, head of the agency, who opposed the increase.The cause of the divide was a $220 million budget shortfall projected over the next decade by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, and a grassroots-initiated proposal for a license fee increase to help address that problem. “Ohio sportsmen and women have never had to fight so hard to convince the government to pay our own way,” said Robert Sexton, a consultant with the Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Tennessee Sets Dicamba Rules

DTN | Posted on July 13, 2017

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) on Wednesday joined other Southern states by announcing additional measures to mitigate the risk of herbicides containing dicamba. The new rules filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State extend through Oct. 1, 2017, and require anyone spraying dicamba to be certified as a private or licensed applicator and keep records of the applications. Available hours to spray dicamba are now restricted to a period of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to avoid temperature inversions. No older formulations of dicamba products can be sprayed in agricultural settings for the remainder of the agricultural growing season. Applications over the top of cotton after first bloom are also prohibited.Dicamba herbicide is the suspected cause of widespread crop injury across several states.The Missouri Department of Agriculture said it may lift the temporary ban on the sale and use of in-crop use of the herbicide this week if a new label is developed with additional safeguards. The state has received over 130 official complaints related to dicamba since June 13, 2017.Both Monsanto and BASF, companies that manufacture dicamba herbicides designed to work with new Xtend-traited soybeans and cotton, confirmed to DTN that they have been actively working with state rule makers. "We are hopeful we will be able to reach resolution on this matter in very short order," said Monsanto spokesman Kyel Richard.

Drones and federalism

The Washington Times | Posted on July 13, 2017

Last week, drone industry executives told President Trump they needed more regulation, not less, before they could expand further — a man-bites-dog story if ever there was one. But the answer isn’t to keep waiting on Washington. It’s to make use of one of our nation’s founding principles: federalism. For now, the drone industry is grounded because the Federal Aviation Agency hasn’t written guidelines for drones that fly beyond the operator’s line of sight. Rules are also absent for drone flights at night. It will take years for this bureaucratic behemoth to pass through all the procedural hoops and hurdles necessary to produce a comprehensive regulatory scheme. The agency itself predicts drones won’t be fully integrated into our nation’s airspace until 2025.

Opioid Crisis Hitting Dogs Now

Halth Line | Posted on July 13, 2017

Veterinarians are seeing the aftershocks of the opioid epidemic as pets and police dogs have to be revived with opioid antidote.

Washington Dept. of Ag report identifies ‘gaps’ in dairy manure rules

Capital Press | Posted on July 13, 2017

Washington’s oversight of dairies could be toughened by stiffer penalties and more control over manure exported to other farms, according to a new Washington State Department of Agriculture report. The report doesn’t make policy recommendations, but broaches “strategies” for plugging “gaps” in how the state’s some 375 dairies manage manure to protect water.WSDA compiled the report at the direction of state lawmakers and with the advice of a 15-member committee, which included several producers.“I don’t see that there’s going to be a huge amount of regulations coming out of this,” said Whatcom County dairyman Larry Stap, a committee member. “I see this as accountability — proving we’re doing a good job.”Lawmakers ordered the study two years ago to identify “gaps” in manure-handling regulations.