The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a new law signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of groups and individuals planning to protest the pipeline or encourage others to do so.Noem signed the act on Wednesday that allows officials to pursue money from demonstrators who encourage violence. The Republican governor also signed another bill requiring pipeline companies to help pay extraordinary expenses such as the cost of policing during protests, but the ACLU is not challenging that new law.
According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, stored grain damaged by floodwaters cannot be sold or fed, meaning a direct loss for most farmers. Some individual insurance policies may cover part of the loss. Good grain sitting more than 1 foot above the flood line can be fed and sold with specific case-by-case FDA approval. Farmers are to contact their local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the best way to dispose of damaged grain in their area.Flood damage across the Midwest is expected to top $3 billion, with ag losses in Iowa alone estimated at $214 million. That amounts to a lot of visits to the FSA office, inspections by the DNR and EPA, and visits to the bank. Farm bankruptcies were already on the rise throughout the Midwest after years of low commodity prices and fallout from the trade war. Some farmers won’t survive to farm another year.
The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would allow people to grow industrial hemp and have cannabidiol, or CBD, products. Technically, Senate Bill 57 would decriminalize hemp and hemp products by excluding them from the definition of marijuana that is used to enforce drug laws. Practically, the bill would allow for the growth, processing, sale and research of the plant.
Confined animal feeding operations and other farming operations in the Raccoon River watershed in west-central Iowa would be required to implement numerical nutrient runoff standards, the state would have to implement a plan to restore the watershed, and CAFO construction or expansion would be halted if a lawsuit filed in a district court in Polk County this week is successful. The lawsuit was filed by environmental groups Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food and Water Watch. Nutrients runoff in Iowa has been the center of heated debate and legal action for the past decade. Most recently, a similar lawsuit filed by Des Moines Water Works was thrown out by a federal court.
In a special election Tuesday, voters in Toledo said yes to a ballot measure that amends the city charter to include a Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). With about 8.9 percent turnout of eligible voters, the ordinance was approved by just over 61 percent. According to the unofficial vote count from the Lucas County Board of Elections, over 16,200 ballots were cast. The vote is a victory for Toledoans for Safe Water, a grassroots organization that, for months, collected signatures, campaigned, and fought in the Ohio Supreme Court to get the issue on Tuesday’s special election ballot. The group worked together with a Pennsylvania nonprofit, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), to draft the language for LEBOR.
Josh Link, a Pennsylvania native, found his home in Alaska's veterinary community. Link will be one of the first to graduate from a 2+2 program that connects the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in May. He plans to return to Fairbanks as a general practitioner. "I joke that one of my professors gave me a sled dog and that was the bait, and I took it," Link said. "There is a culture up there that is really unique, and the veterinary community is right at the center of it." Prospective veterinary students from states that lack an AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary college can still pursue a veterinary career by applying to a 2+2 program, which allows them to complete the first two years of a four-year veterinary curriculum at a campus separate from a veterinary college. In theory, these programs enable states without a veterinary college to increase the number of veterinarians in the state, and they seem to be doing just that. Most of the programs haven't been around long enough to determine definitively whether they have made a dent in veterinarian shortages. However, academic leaders and veterinary students are positive about the opportunities these programs can bring to a community or state.
Most Washington dairy farmers don’t brand cows and aren’t in the mood to pay more to support a brand program, an industry representative told lawmakers, complicating a last-ditch push to save the program aimed at marketing cattle and deterring rustlers. Other cattle groups endorsed a plan to raise fees to fund inspections by the state Department of Agriculture of cattle changing owners. Washington State Dairy Federation policy director Jay Gordon said recent meetings with members revealed strong opposition.“We got our ears bent pretty hard,” he said. The steepest hike would be for inspecting unbranded cows, and the proposal comes as dairies struggle with a prolonged slump in milk prices.“The timing is poor. Our guys are really grumpy right now,” he said.The agriculture department inspects cattle to certify ownership. Last raised in 2006, the fees do not cover the cost of putting inspectors in the field, and the mismatch between costs and revenue over the past two years is approaching $1 million, according to the department.
Oregon lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to fund a new program that would provide state grants for projects to protect and conserve farmland. The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use voted 5-0 to send House Bill 2729 to the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for determining the state’s budget.HB 2729 calls for appropriating nearly $10 million from the general fund over the next biennium to subsidize the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, created in 2017 as a voluntary grant program to help farmers and ranchers with easements, succession planning and conservation strategies to ensure working land remains in production.
The Massachusetts House overwhelmingly approved $8 million Wednesday to offset the potential loss of federal funding to women’s reproductive health organizations under a new Trump administration rule. Twenty Republicans joined the vast majority of House Democrats in voting 140-14 to send the bill to the Senate, where approval is likely on Thursday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has also voiced his support for providing state money to close any gap in funding in the family planning program known as Title X.
The Maryland House of Delegates approved Wednesday a bill that would create a state board to set limits on how much state and local governments pay for medicines for their employees and retirees. The bill was approved largely along party lines on a 98-40 vote, moving the measure to the state Senate for consideration.