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The Trump administration released its new Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) on January 23, 2020. The NWPR will be published sometime soon in the Federal Register, and then will take effect 60 days later. The NWPR will replace the Obama administration’s 2015 attempt to define Waters of the United States (WOTUS). First, remember that the NWPR will not affect jurisdictional determinations (JDs) issued under earlier regulations. The NWPR will only apply when those JDs expire…
I am fortunate to be a member of the AgriInstitute Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) Class 18. At the end of February, we will travel to South Korea and Laos as the capstone to our two-year leadership program. We have spent the past two years traveling the state of Indiana to learn more about various agricultural industries, civic leadership, and rural economic development. We spent a week in Washington DC meeting with Senators, House Representatives, NGO…
The headlines are jarring — livestock farms accused of mistreating the animals entrusted to their care. These headlines are sometimes accompanied by videos (staged or not) that are, quite frankly, difficult to watch. Farms can take certain steps to avoid being the target of the activist groups that use these undercover videos in an attempt to turn consumers against commercial livestock production. Image from DFA Proper employee training is the best way to protect against…
The USDA released its Interim Final Hemp Production Rule on October 29, 2019. The full 161-page document is available here. The public comment period will open once the regulations are published in the Federal Register. The interim rule will be effective for two years and then be replaced with a final rule. States and Indiana Tribes can develop hemp regulation plans for USDA approval. But there are certain federal requirements that all hemp…
Livestock farmers are famous for their efficiency — livestock farms grow crops which they feed to their animals and then use the manure from the animals to fertilize their crops. This mindset makes farmers perfectly situated to participate in the carbon credit marketplace. During a recent conversation, a colleague and I discussed the pros and cons of farmers selling carbon credits for building digesters or undertaking regenerative agriculture practices. I’ve written on regenerative agriculture before
Urban and indoor agriculture are here to stay. People raise chickens in their backyards, corner lots serve as large community gardens, and neighbors are experimenting with bees and hops. As consumers focus on local products and public awareness of the benefits of agriculture grows, we will see more urban farms tucked into nooks, crannies, warehouses, and onto rooftops and decks. Urban farms reduce blight, increase access to healthy food, and can offer landowners a new…
While animal agriculture is often a target in the climate change battle, recent research shows livestock could play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions. “Regenerative agriculture” or “carbon farming” is the practice of raising livestock or crops in a way that sequesters carbon and maximizes soil health. This can include no-till, cover crops, crop rotations, using fewer chemicals and fertilizers, and incorporating rotational livestock grazing. Soils are a natural carbon vacuum, since plants absorb…
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral argument this fall regarding whether the discharge of pollutants through groundwater requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. In County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case, the court broadly construed the Clean Water Act (CWA) and held that discharges “fairly traceable from the point source to a navigable water” required a permit. This holding made waves because…
If you can remember way way back to February 2019, the internet and agricultural media were abuzz over the Bud Light Super Bowl commercial criticizing Miller Light and Coors Light for using corn syrup. Since the Super Bowl, Bud Light continued to run more corn syrup ads. Were the ads deceptive or did they just cater to consumer preferences? MillerCoors quickly responded to the advertisements: first, it sued Anheuser Busch and alleged the commercial intentionally…
Planning and zoning seems, at least at first, like a purely local issue. This idea is called Home Rule. But in most states, including here in Indiana, state (and federal) statutes limit a local government’s power. These are the numerous exceptions to Home Rule (and then of course there are exemptions to the exceptions). I recently gave a presentation to a group of certified planners and others involved in local government planning and zoning decisions.…