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SARL Members and Alumni News

Midwest's legislators adopt resolution calling for greater mental-health supports for people living in rural areas

CSG Midwest | Posted on August 16, 2018

Myriad signs point to the need for better connecting farmers to services that help them deal with stress, depression and other mental health challenges. First, there is the history of the problem: In a study examining various industries between 1992 and 2010, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farm operators and workers had the highest suicide rate. Second, many rural U.S. communities struggle with shortages of mental health professionals: 65 percent don’t have a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, according to a 2018 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Third, many of today’s agricultural producers are dealing with high levels of stress, due to factors such as low commodity prices and decreased farm incomes.“The volatility we have seen recently is unprecedented,” North Dakota Rep. Michael Brandenburg says. The burdens can prove overwhelming for some, he says, noting that one of his neighbors committed suicide when faced with the financial collapse of a farm operation.The 1980s are often cited as a time of failing agricultural businesses and related stresses, but today’s suicide rates for male farmers are 50 percent higher than they were during that tumultuous decade. “Now is the time to start addressing rural suicide and mental health issues,” Illinois Rep. Norine Hammond says.That is why she and other legislators pushed in July for passage of a resolution urging adoption of the federal FARMERS FIRST Act.

Illinois attorney general sues Trump Tower Chicago over water discharge into river

NBC News | Posted on August 16, 2018

The Illinois attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Trump Tower in Chicago, alleging that it is taking in and releasing millions of gallons of water into the Chicago River without having conducted required studies on pollution or the impact on fish. The building takes in almost 20 million gallons of water per day from the river to cool the property's heating and ventilation systems, and that heated water is later discarded into the river.

Too cute? Colleges, courts grapple with the role of companion animals

CNN | Posted on August 16, 2018

 15-year-old girl took the witness stand to testify against the accused, detailing extensive sexual abuse. David Crenshaw, the clinical supervisor of the girl's therapist at the time of the June 2011 trial, said he and the therapist did not think she would be able to go through with it."She can't even talk to me about the trauma, it's so hard for her, so how in the world is she going to get up on the stand in front of a room full of people and testify?" Crenshaw said the therapist asked.But the girl was not in the witness box by herself. At her feet sat Rosie, an 11-year-old service-trained golden retriever who had come out of retirement for the trial. The case was the first in New York state judicial history to permit a dog to accompany a child witness on the stand.The girl testified for 1 hour and 15 minutes and was in contact with Rosie the whole time, petting her and at one point taking off her shoe and touching Rosie with her foot."To this day, she says she couldn't have done it without Rosie," Crenshaw said.Courtroom canines like Rosie are known as facility dogs, and at least seven states have some type of law allowing their assistance on the witness stand.

NY to Invest $1.5M in 'Farm-To-School' Lunch Programs

US News and World Report | Posted on August 16, 2018

New York state will invest $1.5 million in additional funds in efforts to bring fresh, locally grown farm products to public schools in the coming school year.School districts can apply for grants of up to $100,000 each that can support the hiring of a program coordinator, staff training or the purchase of equipment to store, prepare or transport farm products.Since the state's "farm-to-school" program began in 2015 the state has set aside more than $1.8 million to help programs in 164 school districts across the state. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the program benefits students by providing them with fresh fruits, vegetables and other products while also helping create markets for the state's farmers.

CA: New Senate Bill would make water and milk default drinks for children's meals

ABC News | Posted on August 16, 2018

A new Senate Bill is trying to make water and milk the default options for children's meals.
Senate Bill 1192 is wanting to make restaurants that serve kids meals to make water, sparkling water, flavored water, unflavored milk, or non-dairy milk the default drink. This bill would not prohibit a person to request an alternative drink but restaurants who do not follow this law would be subject to fines of $250 for the second violation and $500 for the third.Because this bill would impose additional duties on enforcement agencies the bill would create a state-mandated local program. Government agencies and schools would be given reimbursement with any costs accrued.

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants

| Posted on August 16, 2018

Launched in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin (BLBW) competitive grant program is designed to strengthen Wisconsin’s agricultural and food industries by working to reduce the marketing, distribution, and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of sales of Wisconsin’s food products to local purchasers. Managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the grants can help farms and business more efficiently process, market and distribute food in local markets including stores, schools and institutions. Keeping food dollars in Wisconsin communities supports local businesses, improves farm incomes, and creates jobs.A total of $200,000 is available in grant funding each year through the program; the maximum award for each project is $50,000, and grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50 percent of the total project budget. Generally, qualified applicants include individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations. Proposals can include individual projects, collaborations or partnerships.

Russia Doesn’t Need to Change Votes — Just Sow Confusion

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on August 16, 2018

Two states left nearly 200,000 people off voter rolls earlier this year, leading to confusion and anger when those people tried to cast a ballot in the primaries. Election security experts fear it could happen again in November. While the problems stemmed mainly from computer glitches and human error, the chances of a repeat could be even greater if foreign adversaries, like the Russian government, successfully hack voter registration information.The confusion in primary elections in Maryland and California illustrated that Russia wouldn’t need to change votes to disrupt America’s electoral process, said Maurice Turner, a senior technologist at the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C. Simply changing voter registration information or spreading disinformation about voting places and times could be catastrophic, he said.“The attack that is most likely to succeed is one that causes confusion,” Turner said. “To cause confusion, there just needs to be a disruption in the normal process, and people’s fears can start to build.”Disarray at the polls slows the voting process, disenfranchises people and sows doubt in democratic systems, Turner said.

In Florida, a fight over dog racing pits a waning generation of gamblers and trainers against animal rights advocates

SF Gate | Posted on August 16, 2018

Florida, which hosts a dozen of the nation's 17 surviving tracks, is set to vote in November whether to ban greyhound racing. Those in favor of a ban see racing as animal cruelty akin to cockfighting, contending that dogs are caged for most of the day and risk life-threatening injuries for the sake of gambling.Groups including the Humane Society of the United States and celebrities such as Doris Day, a longtime animal rights activist, have raised $2.5 million to pass the ban. Greyhound racing supporters have raised a miserly $24,000 to defend it. "We're going to get squashed," said Norm Rader, 62, a greyhound trainer. "It's a David and Goliath fight. They're going to overpower us with TV commercials. We can't dispute the lies they're telling about us."They are a target, Rader insists, because horse racing is too moneyed to take down."There's too much money there, so they're coming after us. I don't know what I'm going to do or how I'll survive," he said.Earlier this month, a controversial state judge ordered the measure to be removed from the ballot because its language was unclear, saying it amounted to "outright trickeration"; ban supporters then appealed the decision, prompting an automatic stay that put it back before voters. A hearing in the state's Supreme Court has now been confirmed, but both sides anticipate it will be on the ballot.

AVMA State Legislative Update June 2018

American Veterinary Medical Association | Posted on August 9, 2018

Two veterinary related bills have passed the Norht Carolina legislature. SB 750 will allow a licensed veterinarian to continue to prescribe targeted controlled substances from valid written, oral, or facsimile prescriptions. Licensed veterinarians will also be added to the definition of a “dispenser” when that person dispenses any Schedule II-V controlled substances. The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board will require continuing education on controlled substance abuse and be added to the membership composition of the Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee. SB 99 removes the exemption of pet and animal feed from the state's retail sales and use tax.

Pennsylvania officials admit their state is behind in curbing Chesapeake pollution

Baltimore Sun | Posted on August 9, 2018

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday conceded to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and other state leaders in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that the commonwealth has not done its part to reduce pollution washing into waterways. Patrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania’s secretary of environmental protection, said that will change as a target to restore Chesapeake ecosystems by 2025 approaches.“We are committed and developing a plan that gets us to 2025,” he told the Chesapeake Executive Council, a group that oversees the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, at a meeting in Fells Point.“We are clearly behind,” he said. “But we’ve taken that as an opportunity to double down.”The promise came a week after Hogan publicly criticized Pennsylvania and New York for sending a deluge of debris and pollution down the Susquehanna River during recent flooding.