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SARL Members and Alumni News

Missouri legislature approves bill raising fines for herbicide drift damage

Southeast Missourian | Posted on April 3, 2017

Missouri lawmakers gave final approval to a bill increasing fines for illegal use of herbicides resulting in damage to other farmers’ crops. The Missouri House passed the bill Thursday in a vote of 139-18.The bill, HB 662, already had passed the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Eric Greitens, and if he signs it, will go into effect immediately.Chemical company Monsanto developed herbicides containing dicamba and dicamba-resistant seeds, the Southeast Missourian reported in January. Dicamba is approved for use against woody and wide-leaf plants, and older formulations of dicamba herbicides were not approved for use in 2016. Drift or overspray of herbicides containing dicamba caused significant damage to neighboring farms’ crops in Southeast Missouri in 2016, the Southeast Missourian reported in January 2017.In December 2016, Missouri’s largest peach producer sued Monsanto for contributing to overspray conditions that caused substantial damage to their crop.Sponsored by State Rep. Don Rone of Portageville, the bill seeks to increase fines for damage to neighboring crops. Fines for offending farmers could reach $10,000 for each instance of damage on a first offense and $25,000 for repeat offenders.

N.D. wind energy bill seeking compromises

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on April 3, 2017

The wind energy bill passed by the North Dakota House is an effective compromise, according to Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley. “It’s kind of a meeting in the middle,” he said, referring to. “If everybody agrees, and the township and county agree, it (a wind farm) can be built right.”Senate Bill 2313, as originally written and passed by the Senate, created a reclamation and restoration program for abandoned wind farm sites within the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and set minimum setbacks between planned wind turbines and properties that are not part of the wind farm project. Wind turbines were not allowed within an area of three times the height of the turbine from the border of a quarter section containing an occupied home or 1.1 times the height of a turbine from the unoccupied property of someone not participating in the wind farm project. Brandenburg said this was considered excessive by the wind energy industry and put possible projects in jeopardy. Jay Hesse, project manager for Geronimo Energy, said the political discussion of wind energy was getting friendlier to the industry. The company has developed the Courtenay Wind Farm and is in development for another wind farm project in Stutsman County.

Hemp bills would move crop into mainstream

Capital Press | Posted on April 3, 2017

Hemp would be brought further into the mainstream of Oregon agriculture under two bills that create a commodity commission and seed certification process for the crop. Under House Bill 2372, Oregon’s hemp industry would join 23 other crop, livestock and seafood sectors to have a state commission aimed at promoting and researching a commodity through fees raised from producers. Breeders of new hemp varieties could also get the purity of their seeds certified under House Bill 2371, similarly to other crop species, through a system overseen by Oregon State University.  To comply with federal provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill that allow hemp research, HB 2371 would also create a hemp pilot program at OSU, among other changes to Oregon hemp statutes.Commercial hemp production is illegal under federal drug laws that lump hemp, a form of cannabis, in the same category as its psychoactive cousin, marijuana. Aligning Oregon’s hemp laws with the 2014 Farm Bill provisions will likely ease financial transactions for hemp growers, since many banks are otherwise leery of dealing with the crop, Cyrus said.“The banks are looking for specific language in statute,” he said.If there’s ever a change in federal law regarding cannabis, Oregon’s seed certification process would let hemp breeders patent their varieties, said Jay Noller, head of OSU’s crop and soil science department. Because cannabis is illegal under federal law hemp varieties can’t be protected, he said. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has authorized Noller to import high-quality hemp seeds from Canada and elsewhere.At this point, though, foreign companies are reluctant to export hemp seed into Oregon due to a provision in state law allowing growers to save and plant it, he said.Under HB 2371, that provision would be struck from Oregon law, hopefully opening the way for new hemp genetics to enter the state.

Washington GOP lawmaker slices beef checkoff hike

Capital Press | Posted on April 3, 2017

Given a second take, a Moses Lake Republican passed through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday a bill to raise the beef checkoff by 50 cents this year, but without another increase in two year. The committee had passed the checkoff bill March 23. The bill then called for a 50-cent increase now and another 50-cent hike in 2019. A procedural error, however, forced the committee to vote again.Between last week and this week, Rep. Tom Dent, who’s taken a lead on the issue, reconsidered his position.Dent said the majority of producers he’s heard from support a $1 increase. But he noted that the industry was not unanimous, so he dropped the second half-dollar hike.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, said after the House committee vote that she preferred a $1 hike, but agreed to Dent’s proposal.

Major overhaul to help rural Colorado could be a game changer for the legislative session

The Denver Post | Posted on March 30, 2017

The bill redirects money to rural schools and roads and allows millions more for hospitals. The rural areas of Colorado, where folks feel left behind by the state’s economic rebound, are the focus of a far-reaching bill introduced Monday designed to pump millions of dollars into hospitals, roads and classrooms considered to be near the brink of failure. The measure comes at a critical point when lawmakers are talking about how to spend a $26.8 billion budget and allocate a potential $3.5 billion pot of money for roads — adding another moving part that is expected to complicate and dominate the remainder of the legislative session. Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg said the bill is necessary to “sustain the economy in rural Colorado.”

Proposed West Virginia Bill Would Tax Veterinary Services

The Horse | Posted on March 30, 2017

A measure pending in West Virginia’s legislature would aim to boost the state's economy by taxing any veterinary service performed in that state. But some veterinarians oppose the bill on grounds that it could endanger animals.  Introduced into the State Senate on Feb. 16, SB 335 would amend the West Virginia tax code to levy an 8% sales tax on a range of goods sold and services performed in the state, including fees charged by veterinarians for any treatment of small and large animals.

Georgia passes agriculture liability bill

Georgia General Assembly | Posted on March 30, 2017

The General Assembly recognizes that persons who participate in equine activities, livestock activities, or llama activities may incur injuries as a result of the risks involved in such activities. The General Assembly also finds that the state and its citizens derive numerous economic and personal benefits from such activities. The General Assembly finds, determines, and declares that this chapter is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety. It is, therefore, the intent of the General Assembly to encourage equine activities, livestock activities, and llama activities by limiting the civil liability of those involved in such activities

Labels, restrictions proposed for neonicotinoid pesticides

Capital Press | Posted on March 30, 2017

Neonicotinoid pesticides would be subject to new restrictions and labeling rules under two bills proposed in Oregon. Labels would be required for pesticides containing neonicotinoids, as well as seeds and raw crops treated with the chemicals, under Senate Bill 928. The entire class of neonicotinoid insecticides would be restricted under Senate Bill 929 to only be available to licensed pesticide applicators, farmers and veterinarians. An exemption in SB 929 allows farmers to use the insecticides but doesn’t explain who meets that description. Raw agricultural and horticultural commodities would be labeled under SB 928 as being treated with neonicotinoids even if they contain no residue of the chemicals. Paul Jepson, director of Oregon State University’s Integrated Plant Protection Center.Jepson said he’s neutral on the bill but asked lawmakers to consider the trade-offs of the legislation.Without access to neonicotinoids, many backyard gardeners would probably substitute organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides that also kill insects but are more toxic to humans, he said, “I urge you to consider the consequences of using a blanket approach,” Jepson said.

Minnesota launches new cropland grazing exchange

The Land on Line | Posted on March 30, 2017

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has just launched the Cropland Grazing Exchange. The new online tool seeks to connect crop farmers and livestock farmers to improve soil health.  Livestock are an integral part of achieving optimal soil health. They convert forages to more available forms of nutrients and help break up residue material and stimulate soil microbial activity. As crop production has become more specialized, the lack of livestock impact has become evident in declining soil health.  “The Cropland Grazing Exchange is a simple solution to a sometimes complex issue,” said MDA Program Administrator Kelly Anderson. “Modern agricultural tools like portable watering systems, temporary fencing, and remote solar energizers make it possible for livestock producers to graze their herds on a short-term basis. That gives livestock farmers more grazing options, and it also helps stimulate soil health for crop farmers. It’s a win-win.”

Colorado Agriculture Department set to study using industrial hemp in animal feed

The Denver Post | Posted on March 30, 2017

Colorado livestock could be eating hemp as early as next year, thanks to a bill directing the Colorado Department of Agriculture to study the use of industrial hemp in animal feed. Mike Sullivan, the owner of Johnstown-based Hemp Farm Colorado, said the inclusion of hemp in animal feed could solve one of the biggest problems hemp farmers face. “One of the real big problems with the hemp industry is there’s hardly any processors out there that are buying materials straight from the farmer. This would be a great leap forward,” he said. The use of hemp in animal feed is forbidden because the Food and Drug Administration considers hemp an adulterating substance. State Sen. Kerry Donovan wrote and sponsored the bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously and awaits the governor’s signature. The study would be headed by the commissioner of agriculture and would result in a recommendation by the end of the year. The bill initially intended to allow hemp in livestock feed without a study, but Donovan said a study could help avoid further complications with the FDA. The Congressional Research Service identified 25,000 uses for industrial hemp in a report released this year.