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CHINO, CA

Rains increase demand for goat grazing services 

Southern California businesses that rent goats for brush control say demand is high for their services this winter.

The San Bernardino Sun reports that Chino resident George Gonzales and fellow goat owner Rance Thrall say they're getting more requests for work than they can handle this year.

Gonzales' "Goat 'Er Done" grazing service uses dogs to protect the goats while the animals eat. Gonzales says heavy rain since October has made plants grow like crazy, increasing the risk of fires this summer. Grazing goats can help keep weeds under control and prevent destructive wildfires.

Gonzales says he's getting five to six calls per week, while he got one call per week at most last year. He plans to buy 100 more goats this winter.

ALBANY, NY

Cideries from across New York gather for annual event 

Cider makers from across the state are gathering for their third annual celebration of New York's Farm Cidery Law.

The event in Albany on Saturday features 15 farm cideries from seven regions across the state. It's held at the tasting room of Albany's Nine Pin Ciderworks, the first licensed farm cidery in New York.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball and Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley will participate in the event, which is open to the public. For a $20 ticket, people can sample the wares of 15 cideries with the option to buy some.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the New York State Cider Association.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the number of farm cideries in the state has grown from 8 in 2014 to 28 today.

LITTLE ROCK, AR

Arkansas hog farm gets tentative approval for new permit

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality had tentatively approved a new permit for a hog farm near Mount Judea.

The department issued a draft for its decision approving the permit for C&H Hog Farms. The company applied for a permit in April to keep operating under the state's no-discharge permit program. C&H Farms applied after the department canceled the type of permit the facility previously had been granted.

The pig farming facility has led to changes to department regulations, public hearings and thousands of dollars in state-funded research on the facility's impact on its surroundings in the Buffalo River watershed.

C&H Hog Farms opened in May 2013 after having its permit approved by the department in late 2012. It has been accused of posing a pollution risk to the river because of the farm's size. It is permitted to house up to 8,500 sows and piglets. It's two waste holding ponds would contain up to about 2.4 million gallons of hog manure.

CURRITUCK, NC

Currituck County considers ban on solar farms

Currituck County officials are considering a ban on solar farms, citing the loss of agricultural land, jobs and wildlife habitat as among the reasons.

The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reports county commissioners will hold a public hearing this week on the proposed ban, which the county planning board has recommended.

Currituck's planning director, Ben Woody, says residents believe the solar farms hurt neighborhood aesthetics and property values.

The recommendation allows Duke Energy to continue operation of one solar farm and allows another company to continue construction of second. A third solar farm could be built if it wins its appeal of a permit denial.

Commissioners decided last month to impose a 60-day moratorium on consideration of solar farms.

FREDERICK, MD

County considers relaxing farm alcohol rules

Frederick County officials are considering relaxing restrictions on farm distilleries, wineries, breweries and tasting rooms.

The bills are up for discussion by the County Council this week.

County Executive Jan Gardner has announced bills to allow tasting rooms on farms and distilleries in areas zoned for agriculture. Council Member Tony Chmelik is proposing legislation to define tasting rooms as agri-tourism.

Gardner says she wants to make it easier for rural landowners to join the craft alcoholic beverage industry that's booming in Frederick city.

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