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SARL Members and Alumni News

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.

We must do more to protect our farms from terror threats

Des Moines Register | Posted on July 13, 2017

Less than four years later, however, after U.S. special forces raided an al-Qaida cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and found documents on sabotaging American farms through the intentional introduction of diseases that could infect livestock and crops, securing our nation’s food supply became a government priority.  In fact, the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was charged with implementing a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives to safeguard agriculture. HSPD-7, issued in December 2003, added agriculture to the list of industries for critical infrastructure protection, and a month later HSPD-9 established a national policy to protect against terrorist attacks on agriculture and food systems. The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act, sponsored by Iowa Congressman David Young, directs DHS to coordinate efforts to defend U.S. food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorist attacks and “high-risk” events and to collaborate with other federal agencies in bolstering the government’s prevention and response capabilities.Young, who first introduced his legislation in the 114th Congress after the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza killed millions of Iowa’s laying hens, turkeys and chickens, said the response to that outbreak from the federal government, including its communications with farmers, was lacking.

Interest rate increase for federal loans will affect veterinary students

AVMA | Posted on July 12, 2017

Many veterinary students rely at least partially on federal loans to finance their education. That’s why it’s important for veterinary students to be aware that interest rates for federal student loans increased on July 1. We know this change is unwelcome news for veterinary students, and the AVMA is working hard to secure lower interest rates in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The July 1 changes are based on formulas outlined in the Higher Education Act (20  U.S.C. 1087e(b)). Rates for direct unsubsidized loans for graduate students rose to 6 percent, up from 5.31 percent previously. Rates for direct PLUS loans also rose, to 7 percent from 6.31 percent. These rate changes mean that a veterinary student who borrows $50,000 in 2018 will pay approximately $2,000 more over a 10-year standard repayment term than they would have if they had borrowed in 2017.

Training video helps veterinarians treat opioid overdoses in dogs

AVMA | Posted on July 12, 2017

Overdoses from extremely potent illegal opioids are on the rise across America – but not just for humans. These drugs are now endangering working dogs wh o encounter them in the line of duty.  As a result, veterinarians are increasingly asked to consult by phone for dogs suffering from overdoses in the field. To ensure veterinarians have the resources they need to respond to this emerging health threat, and in response to law enforcement requests, the University of Illinois reached out to the AVMA and other organizations for help in creating educational materials. The result is a comprehensive training video to help veterinarians and law enforcement teams provide potentially life-saving treatment for dogs.Emerging opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil are so potent that even a small exposure can be deadly. To combat these drugs, many law enforcement officers have begun carrying naloxone, sometimes sold under the brand name Narcan, which can reverse the effects of a drug overdose. In the right hands, this drug can be used effectively to provide emergency treatment for working dogs, but the version carried by law enforcement officials is often a nasal spray rather than the injectable version commonly used by veterinarians.Law enforcement officials are encouraged to take a dog suffering from an overdose to a veterinarian immediately. However, available research indicates that administering naloxone on-site can be a proactive, life-saving option. This video provides critical information for veterinarians who have a doctor-client relationship with canine handlers and need to provide advice by phone.

Editorial: To clean up our water, go 'nuts' like this Iowa farmer

Des Moines Register | Posted on July 12, 2017

Seth Watkins has impressive Iowa agriculture bona fides: He’s a fourth-generation farmer. He raises 600 cows and tends 3,200 acres east of Clarinda in southwest Iowa. His grandmother, Jessie Field Shambaugh, founded 4-H. Yet some Iowans have called him “nuts” for sowing grass where he could plant more corn, he told the Register.Watkins has broken out of the two-crop cycle in which so many farmers are caught. He grows corn but also oats, alfalfa and cover crops. He grazes his cattle on pastureland, and about 400 acres of his land have been restored to prairie or set aside for ponds and protection of wildlife and streams. And he’s seen better financial returns as a result, he said, even if it comes at the cost of huge corn yields.“My job as farmer is not to produce; my job is to care for the land. And when I do this properly, this provides for all of us,” said Watkins.

While Most Small Towns Languish, Some Flourish

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on July 6, 2017

In several Western and Southern states, small towns are growing quickly as fast-growing metro areas swallow up more outlying towns, according to a Stateline analysis of census estimates.Between 2015 and 2016, the growth was particularly strong in small towns in Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Idaho, Delaware, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina, where small towns grew around 1 percent or more.During the same period, 54 percent of small towns across the U.S. lost population, and most others saw only limited growth. The reasons for growth can be varied, according to Frey and other demographers. Jobs in booming cities can draw new residents to nearby small towns, where quiet streets and good schools can be especially appealing to millennials ready to raise children. In some states, urban gentrification has pushed the poor and immigrants further into outlying towns, where housing is less expensive.

U.S. schools rethink ‘lunch shaming’ policies that humiliate children with meal debts

PBS | Posted on July 6, 2017

The U.S. Agriculture Department is requiring districts to adopt policies this month for addressing meal debts and to inform parents at the start of the academic year.The agency is not specifically barring most of the embarrassing tactics, such as serving cheap sandwiches in place of hot meals or sending students home with conspicuous debt reminders, such as hand stamps. But it is encouraging schools to work more closely with parents to address delinquent accounts and ensure children don’t go hungry.“Rather than a hand stamp on a kid to say, ‘I need lunch money,’ send an email or a text message to the parent,” said Tina Namian, who oversees the federal agency’s school meals policy branch.Meanwhile, some states are taking matters into their own hands, with New Mexico this year becoming the first to outlaw school meal shaming and several others weighing similar laws.

Quebec pork producers get $1.4 million to mitigate market risks

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 6, 2017

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.

Maine’s new food sovereignty law puts local control over local foods

Bangor Daily News | Posted on July 5, 2017

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.

Pennsylvania Law Protects Veterinarians From Lawsuits

The Horse | Posted on July 3, 2017

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.