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SARL Members and Alumni News

Buffalo is launching a food waste composting program to limit waste in landfills

WKBW | Posted on April 25, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates we throw away 30 to 40 percent of our food. That's about $161 billion worth of food that ends up in landfills every year. But now the city of Buffalo is looking to do its part to change that, by launching its very own food waste collection program.All your leftover fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg and nut shells will go to the Buffalo River Compost site on Ensign Street."We grind up all the wood and mix that in a carbon-nitrogen ratio, with some fruits and vegetables and monitor all the chemical components of that and with time, turn it into a finished compost product," said Brian Murphy, owner of Buffalo River Compost.

California Hemp Bill Clears Committee On Agriculture

Hometown Station | Posted on April 25, 2019

Senate Bill 153 (SB 153) seeks to bring California’s hemp industry regulations in line with federal requirements, according to officials. “I am very pleased to see SB 153 moving with bipartisan support,” Wilk said. “Industrial hemp is a natural fit for California’s arid climate. Farmers in the Antelope Valley will be able to save five-acre-feet of water per acre by switching to it.”Wilk previously introduced and successfully passed a similar bill in 2018, SB 1409, which also sought to streamline California’s hemp production regulations and bring them into compliance with existing federal laws.Late in 2018, Congress passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which instituted new requirements for states’ plans for the licensing and regulation of industrial hemp cultivation.

On Earth Day, Cuomo signs plastic bag ban into law

Albany Times Union | Posted on April 24, 2019

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo marked Earth Day on Monday by signing into law a measure banning most single-use plastic bags, making New York the third state in the nation to enact a statewide bag policy. The ban, which goes into effect in March 2020, prohibits retailers that collect sales tax, including supermarkets and small businesses, from handing out disposable plastic bags, with a few exceptions.

Bill to fund ag programs, rural broadband passes Minnesota Senate committee

Duluth News Tribune | Posted on April 24, 2019

Legislation to fund agriculture, rural development and affordable workforce housing passed the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee this week.The comprehensive omnibus budget bill places an emphasis on rural broadband expansion, invests in affordable manufactured/modular housing and home ownership, and prioritizes value-added agriculture opportunities that directly impact farmers.Specifically, the bill makes a one-time investment in an innovative soybean processing and research facility near the University of Minnesota – Crookston; invests in the Dairy Modernization and Innovation program to help small dairy farms with small grants and low interest loans to finance the modernization of their farm infrastructure, such as robotic milking equipment; funds the Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance program to help dairy farmers with profitability; and increases dairy development grants to aid farmers in creating new business plans.

Soil loss from the Midwest floods

Daily Yonder | Posted on April 24, 2019

As devastating images of the 2019 Midwest floods fade from view, an insidious and longer-term problem is emerging across its vast plains: The loss of topsoil that much of the nation’s food supply relies on. Today, Midwest farmers are facing millions of bushels of damaged crops such as soybean and corn. This spring’s heavy rains have already caused record flooding, which could continue into May and June, and some government officials have said it could take farmers years to recover.As scientists who have a combined 80 years of experience studying soil processes, we see clearly that many long-term problems farmers face from floodwaters are steeped in the soil. This leads us to conclude that farmers may need to take far more active measures to manage soil health in the future as weather changes occur more drastically due to climate change and other factors.

Missouri House backs landowners fighting wind energy line

AP News | Posted on April 24, 2019

The Missouri House passed legislation that could effectively block one of the nation’s largest wind energy projects by prohibiting its developers from using eminent domain to run a high-voltage power line across the Midwest. The House vote targets a $2.3 billion project that would carry electricity generated by Kansas windmills on a 780-mile (1,255-kilometer) path across rural Missouri and Illinois before hooking into a power grid in Indiana serving eastern states.The project’s private developers say it has the potential to bring affordable, renewable energy to millions of homes. But the long-delayed power line has faced opposition from some property owners in its path and trouble clearing some regulatory requirements.

N.J. approves $300M nuclear bailout — and your utility bill just went up | Posted on April 24, 2019

New Jersey utility customers are officially committed to paying $300 million each year for the next three years to keep the state’s three remaining nuclear reactors open. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities decided Thursday to award Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), the state’s largest utility, three “Zero Emission Certificates” — massive subsidies that have been fiercely debated in Trenton for well over a year.

Michigan launches hemp pilot program in time for 2019 growing season

Michigan Live | Posted on April 18, 2019

Michigan farmers can plant industrial hemp this year, under a new pilot program announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Michigan is uniquely positioned to grow, process and manufacture industrial hemp. We are one of the nation’s most agriculturally diverse states -- growing 300 different commodities on a commercial basis -- making it a natural fit,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This emerging crop not only cultivates new opportunity for our farming community, but it also creates an avenue for new businesses to crop up across the state.” Industrial hemp became legal in Michigan as a result of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act that voters approved in November 2018, just a month before the federal government legalized hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Gov. Ricketts joins veterinarians to voice disapproval of tax increases

WOWT | Posted on April 18, 2019

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts expressed his disapproval Monday morning of legislation that would tax veterinary services.Ricketts toured the Veterinary Centers of American and joined with veterinarians to ask lawmakers not to raise taxes. "We're here today to say keep your paws off of our pet healthcare," he said.The governor addressed proposals in the legislature that supporters said are needed to balance revenue lost if property tax relief is passed.Ricketts said no tax increase would help."I'm against raising all the taxes. We've done this in the past. When I say we, the legislature has raised taxes in the past and all it has done is led to more spending," he said.

Washington lawmakers loosen truck weight rules during harvest

Capital Press | Posted on April 18, 2019

Truck drivers hauling crops will have some leeway before getting a ticket for exceeding weight limits, according to a bill passed Monday by the state House. Senate Bill 5883 will let drivers carrying crops exceed weight limits by up to 5% twice in a calendar year. Farm lobbyists said that rain can make crops heavier than expected.The bill's sponsor, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said at a hearing this session the legislation will help growers during harvest season."This is about farmers getting their product out of the field," he said. "It's nigh impossible for that truck to be weighed so that the farm knows exactly what the weight is."The version of the bill passed by the Senate gave drivers four warnings instead of two. The Senate will have to OK the revisions. King accepts the House changes to his bill, a spokesman said Tuesday.