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SARL Members and Alumni News

WDFW cites threats as reason to tighten release of wolf records

Capital Press | Posted on March 6, 2017

Legislation to shield Washington wildlife managers and ranchers from death threats also could bar the public from learning where wolves are attacking livestock and what steps are being taken to prevent depredations. The House State Government Committee has unanimously endorsed withholding public records that name ranchers who report and state employees who respond to depredations. House Bill 1465 also would bar releasing “any information regarding the location of the depredation” that “reasonably could be used” to identify any person. The names of ranchers who sign agreements to use non-lethal measures to deter depredations also would be exempt from disclosure. The bill stems from unspecified threats last summer as the Department of Fish and Wildlife shot seven wolves in the Profanity Peak pack in the Colville National Forest. One producer told the Capital Press that the ranch was receiving daily death threats.

South Carolina House backs $60-a-year tax hike to repair SC’s ragged roads

The State | Posted on March 6, 2017

The S.C. House voted 97-18 Wednesday to increase the state’s gas tax and other driving fees to raise about $600 million a year to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.  Under the plan, the state’s gas tax would increase by 2 cents a gallon each year for the next five years. When fully phased in, the 10-cent-a-gallon increase would cost the average S.C. driver $60 a year.  The state Department of Transportation estimates it needs an added $1 billion a year to repair and maintain S.C. roads.  “We’re at crisis point when it comes to roads in South Carolina,” said House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, who has championed the bill.



Advocates renew push for legalizing raw milk in Hawaii

Hawaii News Now | Posted on March 6, 2017

Hawaii locavores are pushing for more options, including the sale of raw milk.  Currently, raw milk is legal in 42 states in some form or another.  Hawaii law prohibits the sale of it, but advocates like Monique Vanderstroom, owner of Naked Cow Dairy Farm in Waianae, say it's long over due. "There's enough people here that want it," she said. "Anytime we can produce our own food here, I think it adds to the sustainability of the islands  as a whole." Vanderstroom said when she first opened her farm in 2008, she wanted to sell milk. But with all the rules and permitting required to bottle milk, the small farmer couldn't compete with mainland production, so her inventory only consists of cheese and butter. "We can't really afford the costs of the regulations right now," Vanderstroom said. Naked Cow is one of three dairy farms in Hawaii and the only one on Oahu. It's operation is small - with only 14 cows - but Vanderstroom wants to expand the business by adding to her herd and starting the sale of raw milk.

San Francisco bans retail sale of dogs and cats

Consumer Affairs | Posted on March 2, 2017

On February 14, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting retail stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats.  Stores are instead encouraged to partner with animal shelters and rescue groups to display adoptable animals. But the new law, which also prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks old, doesn’t make it illegal to breed companion animals. People can still legally breed dogs and cats, and San Franciscans can still purchase an animal directly from a breeder where they can “see the conditions in which the dogs or cats are bred or can confer with the breeder concerning those conditions.”

Minnesota Farm Groups Work With Lawmakers to Tweak Buffer Law

WNAX | Posted on March 2, 2017

Minnesota Farm Bureau leaders and other agricultural groups are working with state legislators to tweak the new buffer law. Lawmakers have held hearings where they heard from officials from the Board of Soil and Water Resources and Department of Natural Resources. State Farm Bureau  Associate Director of Public Policy Cole Rupprecht says the buffer maps released by DNR need to be adjusted. He says another area of the law that that needs modification deals with the alternative farming practices listed in the statute. Rupprecht says if legislators can’t find the proper fixes to the law, then implementation should be delayed. He also says an appeal process needs to be added. He says several buffer bills have been offered including one to repeal the law entirely but nothing has passed yet.

City Rights in an Era of Preemption: A State-by-State Analysis

National League of Cities | Posted on March 2, 2017

Preemption is the use of state law to nullify a municipal ordinance or authority. In some cases, preemption can lead to improved policy statewide. However, preemption that prevents cities from expanding rights, building stronger economies, and promoting innovation can be counterproductive when decision-making is divorced from the core wants and needs of community members.

Are you interested in helping provide information for rural infrastructure needs?

Rebuild Rural | Posted on March 2, 2017

Recently, SARL was a signee with 200 rural support groups on a letter to President Trump regarding rebuilding the infrastructure of rural America.  In the wake of the Rural Infrastructure Coalition’s letter to President Trump, the organizer's led by Farm Credit, want to develop a Rural Infrastructure “Repository” (i.e. database) –– a ready listing of “rural infrastructure” projects and other research dedicated to the infrastructure needs of Rural America.   As the President’s speech to Congress highlighted, legislative efforts in this policy area will begin to take shape shortly and we believe it will be important for the President and Members of Congress to have a ready list of rural infrastructure projects, particularly, as it relates to their respective states and districts. 

They are asking you to submit your current prioritizations for infrastructure needs, including any associated research papers and they have created a dedicated email account to ease the submission process: Once they have collected enough data to formulate a draft “repository”/database document, they will re-circulate the list to make sure they have adequately and accurately captured all the desired projects of rural emphasis.

If submitting projects for hte database please include:1) A point of contact (name, phone & email), 2) The author, organizations and year of any related study/published data/issue area (i.e. broadband, water, sewer, power, other types of rural infrastructure, etc.). If your in doubt of what to submit, drop me a note and we can talk about it (

Wyoming, South Dakota nix country-of-origin-labeling for beef

Food Safety News | Posted on March 1, 2017

Mandatory country-of-origin-labeling bills for beef and ground beef made it out of committees in Pierre and Cheyenne, but got no further in the farm and ranch friendly South Dakota and Wyoming Legislatures. Senate Bill 135 went down in the South Dakota Senate on Feb. 25. It would have required grocery stores in the Rushmore State to disclosure the country of origin of beef and ground beef. House Bill 198 died in the Wyoming House on Feb. 3 when the Committee of the Whole opted not to consider the bill, which also would have required country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) for beef products in the Cowboy State.

ND: Lawmakers push bill to create new state environmental agency

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on March 1, 2017

Lawmakers are weighing the creation of a new environmental regulatory agency, splitting off those operations from the North Dakota Department of Health. Senate Bill 2327 would move the current duties of the state Health Department’s Environmental Health Section into a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Environmental Quality. It passed out of committee Friday with a "do pass" recommendation.Bill sponsor Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, said this is something lawmakers have been discussing for some time.“With the new governor’s initiative to reinvent government, we felt now is the time to make this move," she said.The legislation emphasizes the separation of environmental issues from the medical world of public health. It “would send a message to the EPA we are serious about our state primacy, and this is our jurisdiction," said Unruh, who compared it to moves other states have taken.

New laws in Illinois, Michigan seek to tap power of energy efficiency

CSG- Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2017

When it came to helping craft a complex, landmark package of bills to revamp the state’s energy policy and map out the future of electric power in Michigan, Sen. Mike Nofs tried to at least keep one part of the legislative work simple and unchanging — the measure’s overarching goals.  “We wanted to control our destiny, regardless of the policies being set at the federal level,” he says. “And that meant focusing on affordability, reliability and clean energy.” And that, in turn, led him and other lawmakers to make efficiency — or “waste reduction,” as it is now referred to in Michigan statute —  a big part of the state’s new energy law, which was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in late 2016 (SB 437 and SB 438). Only weeks before, another Midwestern state, Illinois, also took sweeping actions on energy policy, with a law that includes new incentives and standards for its utilities to achieve greater efficiency.