Bipartisan bills have been submitted in the state House and Senate that aim to address two major socioeconomic issues facing rural community hospitals.House Bill 998 would direct the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to make recommendations by Oct. 1 for establishing incentives to expand medical education in rural counties.That would include assisting rural hospitals with gaining Medicare approval to become a teaching hospital, as well as incentivize medical residents and students to serve those rural areas after graduation.
A federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other groups challenging North Carolina’s “ag-gag” law can proceed. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reverses a district court judgment that had dismissed the lawsuit. PETA, the Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, and the Government Accountability Project are suing to overturn the state law criminalizing undercover investigations at agricultural facilities.
There have been several court decisions lately across the country related to states’ Right to Farm statutes. These cases provide good examples of the types of claims that can arise against a farm operation and also illustrate the differences between each state’s Right to Farm Act.
After you head northeast on Ranch Road 652 from tiny Orla, it’s easy to miss the precise moment you leave Texas and cross into New Mexico. The sign just says “Lea County Line,” and with 254 counties in Texas, you’d be forgiven for not knowing there isn’t one named Lea. But the folks who are selling water over it know exactly where the line is. That’s because on the Texas side, where the “rule of capture” rules groundwater policy, people basically can pump water from beneath their land to their heart’s content. But on the New Mexico side, the state has imposed tight regulations on both surface and groundwater that restrict supply. Here’s the rub — or the opportunity, depending on your perspective: With an oil fracking boom driving demand for freshwater on both sides of the state line in these parts, Texas landowners are helping to fill the void with water from the Lone Star State — including from at least one county in which Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a drought. Now a top New Mexico politician is crying foul, saying that unregulated pumping from wells next to the state line is depleting the shared aquifers that supply water to southern New Mexico.
Ohio landowners who have an idle or orphaned well on their property may have a greater chance of getting some relief, following recent votes by the state legislature. The House and Senate both voted in favor of H.B. 225 — a bill that requires the Department of Natural Resources to spend at least 30 percent of the state’s Oil and Gas Well Fund on plugging orphan wells.The bill appropriates a total of $15 million for plugging wells in fiscal year 2019, an increase of $7 million.
Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation on Friday to encourage the installation of energy storage in the state and to integrate storage procurement mechanisms into utilities' long-term planning processes. House Bill 18-1270, also known as the "Energy Storage Procurement Act," sets a deadline of Feb. 1, 2019, for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to develop procurement rules. Utilities will be able to file applications for rate-based projects by May 1, though they cannot exceed 15 MW. This is the second energy storage bill Colorado lawmakers have passed this year. In March, Hickenlooper signed a measure that focused on consumer-installed storage.
Hurricane Maria has reignited a small movement in Puerto Rico aimed at strengthening the local food system so the island can survive and thrive without dependence on the mainland U.S. Before the hurricane struck in September 2017, Puerto Rico imported about 85 percent of its food. And to make matters worse, Maria wiped out 80 percent of crops on the island. Local food supporters acted quickly, cleaning debris, helping to replant farms and spreading their belief that a self-sufficient Puerto Rico would be more resilient to future challenges.
Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017 while the total number of milk-cow herds is down about 20 percent from five years ago. The dairy industry has been shifting toward larger, corporate farms over the last 15 years, creating conflicts with local residents and environmental activists because the farms produce massive amounts of waste. Announcement of the task force came on the same day that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of a massive dairy farm in central Wisconsin that was looking to expand but had been blocked over zoning concerns. Walker, a Republican who faces re-election in November, said the state agriculture department will join forces with the University of Wisconsin System to create the dairy industry task force. It is designed to bring industry experts together to create solutions to help farmers, processors and related industries. "We need to work together to develop a strategy to maintain our state's legacy as the Dairy State," Walker said in a statement.
When larger and well-managed dairy operations in other parts of the country were threatening to steamroll Wisconsin’s sagging dairy industry about 30 years ago, it began making some radical changes recommended by a group of industry experts that made it more economically viable and ensured the state’s continued status as “America’s Dairyland.” With the state dairy industry at a crossroads once again, a new group of state experts will soon begin meeting and eventually make recommendations that the group’s leader is hoping will put the state dairy industry back on another strong track. But he also acknowledged it’s unfair to ask the group to match some of the spectacular recommendations made by the first group. An emphasis on making specialty cheeses — the cornerstone of the state cheese industry — and expanding product development of whey, a key dairy export, were two of the 75 recommendations made by the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force in a 1987 report. It also told dairy farmers to embrace some of the technology and methods that made the larger, well-maintained dairy operations in California so successful.
Crawford County, GA- Robert Franklin Ray, Crawford County farmer and former State Representative, died May 29, 2018. A fourth generation farmer, agriculture was truly part of Ray's DNA. He was born on the family farm in Crawford County to the late William McCrary Ray and Thelma Crutchfield Ray. Ray was immersed in helping run the family's farm, helping plant and harvest row crops (wheat, soybeans and peanuts) and peaches on the family operation. He would often comment that there was no need to legalize gambling in the state because those who farmed were already involved in high stake risks and challenges everyday.
While the 100-year-old farm has now transitioned to primarily pecan orchards, Ray's passion for agriculture and representing the hard working people in his community prompted his interest in public service. He was elected president of the Crawford County Farm Bureau at age 19 and by age 22, as a member of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners. That was followed by two terms on the Crawford County Board of Education. He also served as the Georgia Department of Agriculture's assistant commissioner for marketing and as manager of the State Farmers Market in Macon.
Ray's many experiences in public service led to his 24-year tenure in the Georgia State Legislature where he represented Crawford County as well as portions of Peach, Houston, Monroe, Bibb, Lamar and Upson counties. While in the House of Representatives, Ray was a member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Appropriations, Industry and Rules, House Journals and Small Business committees and served as chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.