Mark Shanklin thinks he was well within his rights in June 2016 when a police officer knocked on his door after noting unusually high power usage at the St. Louis man's home. Shanklin "...was covered in dirt or potting soil and reeked of marijuana" when Detective Gregory Klipsch asked him to talk, and he consented to a search after consulting with his wife, according to court documents. The state says a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tipped off local law enforcement.Inside, Klipsch found "...numerous potted plants of marijuana scattered throughout the residence along with lights and a pulley system," court documents say. "Headlights were affixed to the ceiling in some rooms and there was a table with lights and red Solo Cups with smaller marijuana plants."In addition to hundreds of plants, Shanklin had books on growing marijuana, a scale and cut cannabis inside various Tupperware containers.But Shanklin, through his attorney, contends that what he was doing should be considered perfectly legal. He argues that Missourians legalized growing marijuana in 2014 when voters passed a so-called "right-to-farm" amendment to the Missouri Constitution.As such, Shanklin argues the drug laws under which he was convicted are unconstitutional in their application to prohibit cannabis cultivation.
These volunteers spend their time and money to rescue dogs from municipal shelters by shuttling them to fosters or adopters in other parts of the country. They see it as a win for everyone – it eases overcrowding at shelters, keeps dogs from being euthanized and loving families get pets. But there are no laws in the U.S. about tracking dogs moving across state lines. Rescue groups say they self-police and emphasize transparency, but critics say the lack of regulation may put adopters at risk if they unwittingly take in dogs with behavioral problems. They say details about a dog’s past aggression can be lost in the shuffle or obscured by well-meaning rescuers. The daughter of the Virginia Beach woman who was killed said in a lawsuit that’s what happened to her. She wasn’t made aware of Blue’s bite history when she adopted him. Media from around the country have reported similar incidents. There are some pushing for legislative oversight of this pet pipeline, but few inroads have been made. In the meantime, thousands of dogs are moving across state lines every year with little oversight.
Anne Hazlett, assistant to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on rural development, came under pressure Sept. 28 from several senators on whether she will push for money for programs President Donald Trump proposed eliminating and on whether the USDA will formally weigh in with the Federal Communications Commission on fixed versus wireless broadband internet access. The interactions occurred at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on rural development and energy programs in the next farm bill.Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said rural development is one of the reasons he stayed on the agriculture committee, and said it is vital to find "new resources" for the community facilities program to combat the opioid drug addiction crisis.Leahy then asked Hazlett, "Are you going to push for providing them?"But Hazlett responded only that, "you have my commitment to steward the resources that are provided."
The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has held that the First Amendment is applicable to a Wyoming statute that prohibits crossing private property to collect resource data. The statute, which would prohibit a variety of acts such as photographing, videoing, sampling, or otherwise gathering data on water, soil, and animals, was challenged by several plaintiffs who claimed it violated their free speech rights. The trial court dismissed the case, finding that the collection of data was not “speech” such that the First Amendment was implicated. The Tenth Circuit reversed, holding this action was speech. Thus, the case was remanded back to the trial court, which will now apply the legal analysis required for a First Amendment challenge.
Tyson Foods is backing away from its plans to build a new poultry complex in Tonganoxie, Kansas, and instead is looking at other locations to build the $320 million facility. Tyson Foods on September 5 revealed plans to build the poultry complex in Tonganoxie, stating that the complex would include a poultry plant with a capacity to process 1.25 million birds per week, a feed mill and a hatchery. About 1,600 people were expected to be employed at the complex.However, a public forum held on September 15 revealed the sentiment that citizens of Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County did not want Tyson to build there. Before the forum concluded, four state legislators present stated that they would do what they could to prevent Tyson Foods from building in Tonganoxie.Three days later, the Leavenworth County Commission voted 2-1 to rescind a resolution of intent in which the county would issue as much as $500 million in industrial revenue bonds to support the project.
Agricultural land is assessed differently than homes and business in all 50 states, based on a formula that values the land based on crop yields, soil conditions, market prices and other factors. The approach is designed to preserve agricultural land by curbing property taxes, even as developers gobble up farmland and land values skyrocket. But over time, changing interest rates and swings in grain prices have led to assessments that don’t match the economic conditions many farmers face.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed legislation letting political candidates raise unlimited money for super political action committees just a day after the Legislature approved the controversial plan. With Snyder’s blessing, political candidates can now raise unlimited money for super PACs that could then pour unlimited amounts of money back into committees that a candidate creates or that support the candidate.Snyder, a Republican, and other GOP supporters say the new law squares Michigan with a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission denied a petition that would have made it tougher for animal feeding operations to be built in Iowa. Petition supporters sought to strengthen the state's master matrix — a scoring system designed to give local residents input on proposed animal feeding operations — saying the changes would better protect people living near livestock facilities from odor and water pollution.But opponents said the petition would make it so difficult to get a passing score, it would result in a statewide moratorium on livestock facilities. That's a controversial proposal for a state that's a national leader in pig, egg, turkey and cattle production.
In New York state, New Yorkers in downstate counties will soon benefit from cleaner air due to the increased use of Bioheat fuel in heating oil. Legislation signed Sept. 13 by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties to follow New York City’s lead by blending at least 5 percent biodiesel (B5) into all home heating oil sold by July 1, 2018. New York City, the largest municipal consumer of heating oil in the country, has already taken advantage of biodiesel’s benefits by instituting a citywide 2 percent biodiesel requirement in 2012 that increases to 5 percent on Oct. 1, 2017. Now the entire New York City Metropolitan Area, representing approximately 70 percent of the state’s heating oil market, will have a 5 percent biodiesel blending requirement.
Papayas are big business in Hawaii. In 2016, the islands produced nearly 20 million pounds of the tropical melon, valued at an estimated $10 million. The Hawaiian papaya is also highly controversial. After the papaya ringspot virus decimated the island’s crop three decades ago, much of the fruit grown there today has been genetically modified to be resistant. For Hawaiian farmers, selling the papayas can be difficult. Countries are often reticent to import genetically modified crops. Farmers also face an uphill battle because of the high cost of imported fertilizers. But even more problematic is waste. Approximately a third of the Hawaiian papaya crop is discarded because it’s bruised or misshapen. Farmers throw out these otherwise saleable crops when margins are already thin. Lisa Keith, a plant pathologist with the USDA in Hilo, Hawaii, may have a solution. Keith and her team of researchers have been gathering leftover papayas from local packing houses and turning them into a fuel that’s used to produce biodiesel. It’s a surprisingly simple process that includes adding algae to large tanks that contain a sterile pureed papaya solution, where a process called heterotrophic growth takes place—in the absence of sunlight, algae feed on the sugar in the papaya. When the algae becomes starved of nitrogen after depleting the nutrients in the puree, it stimulates lipid production, which causes the lipid cells to balloon up with oil in just under two weeks’ time. These oils can be used for biodiesel production after the glycerol present in the cells is extracted.