National Briefs - Hemp growing now legal in RI

Wisconsin State Farmer


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Hemp growing becomes legal in Rhode Island 

It's about to become legal to grow hemp in Rhode Island. A new law that takes effect Sunday allows people to get a state license to cultivate hemp for clothing, oil, food, fuel and other commercial products.

Lawmakers originally wrote the bill so that members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe could grow hemp, but later expanded the language to allow any licensed grower.

The legislation was signed into law in July by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo. It also allows universities to grow hemp for educational and research purposes with the approval of state health officials.

It's already legal to import hemp from abroad, but federal law only allows cultivation of hemp for research. Industrial hemp is related to marijuana but has a lower concentration of the drug's mind-altering ingredient.


Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell wants precautions eased 

The Houston Chronicle is reporting Texas-based ice cream maker Blue Bell wants federal regulators to ease precautions in place since a deadly listeria outbreak and allow the company to return to more normal procedures followed by its competitors.

Documents obtained under a federal open records request, says Blue Bell has been working for months with a laboratory to develop tests to meet federal Food and Drug Administration requirements, prevent future outbreaks and help Blue Bell improve its economics.

An attorney for Blue Bell, Joseph Levitt, has written the FDA that it's time for the company "to transition to the industry norm."

Blue Bell had to shut its flagship Brenham creamery for several months after last year's recall was linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.


State offers tax breaks for western NY cheese plant project 

The state has pledged $2.5 million in tax credits and grants for a new cheese manufacturing plant scheduled to open in western New York in about a year.

The Democrat & Chronicle reports construction on the $49.7 million WNY Cheese Enterprise production facility in Livingston County is already underway. The 30,000-square-foot York plant will employ 30 people, who collectively are expected to produce roughly 15 million pounds of cheddar cheese annually.

Up to $700,000 in tax credits for the project will be provided through a state jobs program. The rest of the funding will come in the form of grant money made available by various state programs.

The new plant is a joint effort conducted by Craig's Station Creamery, the Dairy Farmers of America and Denmark-based Arla Foods.


Solar farm approved for long-closed site of Charlotte dump 

A Charlotte landfill closed for nearly 50 years will soon finally find new life as a solar farm.

Charlotte City Council has approved a lease on 22 acres on the old landfill site just north of uptown. The site has not been used since the landfill closed in 1970 — well before there were standards in place on what kind of waste could be put there or even that the trash should be buried.

Solar farms are one of many ways North Carolina is trying to reuse the 675 old landfill sites across the state. A Gaston County landfill may also soon be home to solar panels.

Solar farms aren't the only way to put back into use the 675 old landfills that dot North Carolina. A state program gets about $8 million a year from a tax on waste and is working to clean and repurpose about 80 landfill sites across the state. Some have been turned into parks or business sites.