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Rural News

Bill would take away local control of agritourism

Concord Monitor | Posted on February 16, 2017

Less than a year after legislators approved a bill defining how municipal bodies should treat agritourism, the New  Hampshire Senate is considering another bill that would completely remove local regulation on the issue.  During a Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee hearing, the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Bob Giuda, argued that the law passed in 2016 didn’t go far enough to protect the commercial interests of farmers.  “We are allowing our local communities ... to define commerce in our state,” he said. “That is not a power we give to our towns and communities.”  Giuda said his proposed amendments to the law were necessary in light of several ongoing lawsuits that pit farmers who want to diversify and host weddings to stay in business against their neighbors who want peace and quiet on the weekend.  “The law is being used against individuals by other individuals because we have not clearly defined what agritourism is or how it operates,” Giuda told the committee last week.

Trump indicates little change in U.S./Canada trade in NAFTA reset

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 16, 2017

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump yesterday downplayed the extent of changes he will seek in U.S./Canadian trade as he looks to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  "We'll be tweaking it, we'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries," Trump said at a joint news conference with Trudeau on Monday. "It's a much less severe situation than what's taken place on the southern border. On the southern border, for many, many years the transaction was not fair to the United States. It was an extremely unfair transaction."

Troopers Use ‘Big Data’ to Predict Crash Sites

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on February 16, 2017

As more and more states use “big data” for everything from catching fraudsters to reducing heath care costs, some highway patrols are tapping it to predict where serious or fatal traffic accidents are likely to take place so they can try to prevent them.

Iowa DNR plans second special harvest to test deer for chronic wasting disease

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 16, 2017

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will hold a second special harvest in northeast Iowa to collect deer that can be tested for chronic wasting disease.  The state hopes to collect up to 300 samples from mature deer in Clayton County from Saturday to March 5. The state asks hunters, who will receive special scientific licenses, to focus on an area about 10 miles west of Elkader. It's the second special harvest this year.

Roadway and Bridge Improvement Calculator

Illinois Soybean Association | Posted on February 14, 2017

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program is launching a new Roadway and Bridge Improvement Calculator, an online service intended to help local communities better plan road and bridge projects.  Simple, customizable and fast, the calculator will allow communities to save time and money during budgeting and planning stages so that more financial resources can be put toward the actual improvement of roads and bridges. Wagner acknowledges county and city engineers, town officials and others need to consider many factors when planning road and bridge projects.  The Road and Bridge Improvement Calculator lets them quickly assess calculations, such as the cost of reconstructing versus resurfacing a road or analyzing safety benefits of efforts like widening a road shoulder or installing a traffic signal.  The service even will generate an overall benefit-cost ratio of improvements, taking into account safety benefits, travel efficiency, emissions and life cycle construction costs.

Lawmakers aim to boost Central Illinois agricultural economy

Herald & Review | Posted on February 14, 2017

Legislation introduced in Springfield could boost efforts to attract bio-based businesses to Decatur and Central Illinois.The legislation introduced by state Sens. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would provide incentives to produce and sell new renewable products made from biomass and other renewable sources. The potential exists for Decatur to be at the center of a new $20 billion biotechnology industry, Rose said. “The potential for jobs is here,” Rose said. “We have something no one else has to offer. This bill will help us capitalize on this and bring these jobs to Central Illinois.”

Report: Privatized Medicaid program serves fewer people, costs more

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 14, 2017

The privatization of a state program that transports poor Texans to medical appointments has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars more while serving fewer than half as many people, according to a Legislative Budget Board report that some officials tried to withhold from the public. In the five years since Texas began privatizing the management of the Medical Transportation Program, the number of Medicaid recipients using the program has dropped from 350,000 to 150,000, the number of substantiated complaints has doubled, administrative costs have quadruped and the overall per-ride cost to the public has nearly tripled, the report authors found. The privatization effort was designed to reduce fraud, and anti-fraud measures may have caused some of the drop in users. Still, the budget board found, privatization has left out thousands of people and cost taxpayers an estimated $316 million more than would have been spent if the state still was running the program.

New study helps explain how garbage patches form in the world's oceans

Science Daily | Posted on February 14, 2017

A new study on how ocean currents transport floating marine debris is helping to explain how garbage patches form in the world's oceans. Researchers developed a mathematical model that simulates the motion of small spherical objects floating at the ocean surface.

No link between immigration and increased crime, four decades of evidence finds

Science Daily | Posted on February 12, 2017

Political discussions about immigrants often include the claim that there is a relationship between immigration patterns and increased crime. However, results of a new study find no links between the two. In fact, immigration actually appears to be linked to reductions in some types of crimes, according to the findings.

Who owns Texas water?

The Eagle | Posted on February 11, 2017

As Texas population continues to increase, so will demands for water. The answer to the question of who owns Texas water will continue as a point of argument.  Water availability has become such a critical issue that many statewide meetings, legislation and court cases revolve around the subject. A recent state-wide conference, devoted to water, was the Texas Section Society of Range Management annual meeting held in Uvalde. The opening remarks presented by Charles Porter addressed the question of water ownership.  Porter suggested looking at three geological water containers – natural surface, diffused surface and groundwater – to determine ownership. Each container has different ownership and regulations. Porter is an author, speaker, fulltime visiting professor at St. Edward’s University, and a water rights and real estate expert nationwide.