The Canadian government has announced some C$1.4 million in financial assistance to Quebec’s pork sector. About C$1.2 million will be used to improve the Market Risk Management Service, launched in 2000 by the producer group Éleveurs de porcs du Québec (ÉPQ) to help producers mitigate price fluctuations without having to individually secure financing required by financial markets.
Proponents of food sovereignty in Maine hope a new law, based on exchanging locally produced and grown food, will bring back some of that community-based commerce. On June 16 Gov. Paul LePage signed LD 725, An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, June 16, legitimizing the authority of towns and communities to enact ordinances regulating local food distribution free from state regulatory control.“This is huge,” said Heather Retberg, who has helped craft ordinance language. “Historically this is how many people have always exchanged food, especially in rural areas.”Under the new law, any town or municipality in Maine may now adopt an ordinance allowing food producers to sell their products directly to consumers free from state regulations or licenses.“This law and the ordinance are not intended to create a retail market that simply circumvents the rules of food safety,” Richard Loring King, Maine food sovereignty advocate, said. “It’s to rejuvenate traditional local foodways where communities provided for themselves in an atmosphere of trust, not unlike having friends over to share a meal.”For a great many of Maine’s rural small farmers and poultry producers who operate out of roadside stand or directly from their farms, the new law does not change how they do business, as they are already free from state inspections.The real changes involve those who sell meat or dairy products, Retberg said, which are highly regulated by the state.
A new Pennsylvania law shields veterinarians from civil liability when they report suspected animal cruelty to law enforcement authorities. Initially introduced into the Pennsylvania State General Assembly by Representative Mark Keller in 2015, the latest reincarnation was included in HB 1238, which made sweeping changes to the state's animal cruelty statutes.Under the legislation any licensed veterinarian, certified veterinary technician, or veterinary assistant, “who reports in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected violation of (animal cruelty) to the proper authority shall not be liable for civil damages as a result of reporting the incident.”Keller believes the law will eliminate veterinarians' legal concerns about reporting suspected animal abuse and ultimately result in increased animal cruelty prosecutions.“HB 1238 is a huge win for those in the veterinary profession and the animals that receive their care,” he said. Michael San Filippo, spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), said Pennsylvania is among 30 states with laws requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse cases to local authorities. Of those states, 27 have statutes protecting veterinarians from civil or criminal prosecution if they report suspected animal abuse cases.
Two measures sponsored by state Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, to help support the next generation of New York farmers have been approved by the Legislature and await the governor’s signature. Under the first measure, Senate bill 4021, a Young Farmers Advisory Board of 20 farmers from across the state would lend their expertise and insights on the impacts of potential legislation and programs on those new to the industry, according to a statement from the senator.The second measure, Senate bill 4900, would direct the commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the commissioner of the Office of General Services to work together to develop an inventory of state-owned real property that could be sold or leased for farming.“Agriculture is our state’s leading industry and if we want to ensure it remains as such, we need to take steps to encourage people to pursue farming careers,” said Ritchie, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.“These two pieces of legislation will help those new to the industry overcome common roadblocks to success—like finding farmland—and ensure that the future of family farming in New York State is bright for many years to come.”
Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-House District 25, announced Monday the creation of the House Urban and Rural Development Committee.According to McCutcheon, the committee will focus its attention on the unique issues that impact Alabama’s rural and urban communities while working to combat the pockets of poverty that exist across the state.The committee could consider legislative topics like broadband access, infrastructure and development and other factors contributing to impoverished areas, McCutcheon said.Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Cullman, will chair the committee.
The Washington Department of Ecology will appoint an advisory group to evaluate ways farmers and ranchers can prevent water pollution, an exercise viewed warily by the state Farm Bureau. Ecology is seeking experts for the group, which is expected over the next year to help the department develop a set of best management practices. Ecology says the measures will be voluntary and won’t become new regulations.“I think it will be useful guidance for people,” said Ben Rau, Ecology’s manager of the effort.The initiative stems from criticism the Environmental Protection Agency made in 2015 about Ecology’s plan to control pollution from urban and rural runoff. The EPA said Ecology’s plan to prevent pollution from agricultural lands needed “greater specificity.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is fresh off a legislative session in which he signed nine bills aimed at supporting the clean energy sector. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott recently signed a tax exemption that solar installers say is essential to jump-starting the residential and commercial market in the Sunshine State. And in Iowa, where wind now accounts for 36 percent of the state's electricity generation, newly installed Gov. Kim Reynolds recently finished an energy plan that calls for growing the wind, biofuels and solar industries.in states like Iowa and Nevada, which lack a local fossil fuel industry, Republican leaders are becoming increasingly comfortable with renewables. Wind now employs more than 8,000 people in Iowa. Two utilities in the Hawkeye State announced plans last year to invest $4.6 billion in new wind farms.Reynolds follows in the footsteps of longtime Gov. Terry Branstad (R), an outspoken wind advocate during six nonconsecutive terms in Des Moines. Branstad stepped down this year to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China.As lieutenant governor, Reynolds led efforts last year to complete an Iowa Energy Plan. It calls for more ambitious renewable energy targets, best practices to help municipalities site turbines and grid modernization pilot projects, among other measures.The state's wind industry has helped attract Facebook, Microsoft and Google data centers to Iowa, said Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman for the governor."In general, renewable energy has provided for local energy production, job and business growth, increases in property tax revenue, and clean energy production in our own backyard," Smith said.
A first-of-its-kind newly signed budget bill is a win-win for the future of farming in Minnesota. And it's thanks in part to Andrew Barsness, a 27-year-old grain farmer from Hoffman. Through the bill, landowners receive a state income tax credit when they sell land or rent land or agricultural assets to a beginning farmer, which is someone who has been farming for fewer than 10 years, said Barsness. According to the Young Farmer's Coalition, which was formed in 2016, the credit equals 5 percent of the sale price, 10 percent of the cash rent or 15 percent for a cash share agreement. In turn, the beginning farmer must take a farm management course to qualify for the tax incentive and would be eligible for a tax credit covering the full cost of the training. The tax credit will be available on a first-come, first-served basis with maximum statewide limit of $5 million in tax year 2018 and $6 million per year after that. Barsness said the bill, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton at the end of May, helps create an incentive to sell land. Land access is an issue for beginning farmers.
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that loosens fish farm regulations. Under the Republican bill, fish farms no longer need permits to discharge material into a wetland if the wetland was created for fish farming. Natural water bodies can serve as fish farms and farms wouldn't need permits to construct or enlarge artificial water bodies connected to a navigable waterway. New permit conditions will be prohibited unless needed to meet water quality standards.
State Sen. David Lucas has been named chairman of a committee tasked with improving rural Georgia. The political veteran will guide the meetings for the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee that begin this summer. The committee deals with similar issues as a House Rural Development Council that will create policy ideas on issues such as health care and education in rural communities.