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JEFFERSON CITY, MO

Measures could halt local rules over large farms

Measures advancing in the Missouri Legislature would limit the scope of rules that local governments can slap on large animal feeding operations.

House lawmakers on April 18 voted 101-42 to pass a bill to give county sheriffs and federal or state agencies with authority over farms the exclusive right to inspect them.
Operations that would be covered under the proposal include facilities that produce eggs, dairy products, livestock or poultry, or the raising "of dogs or other animals that are not used to produce any food product."

The bill by Republican Rep. Kent Haden would mean that counties couldn't enforce health ordinances or zoning laws over certain livestock facilities, said Brian Smith, a lobbyist and organizer for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a statewide network that works to preserve family farms, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Haden said county health officials lack the expertise to regulate the large operations, and that often local governments are biased against the facilities.

A companion proposal would prevent counties from regulating where livestock facilities are built and from adopting rules to reduce hazardous smells.

Opponents argue that emissions from the large farms, which include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, can pose health risks for neighbors.

DES MOINES, IA

Animal rights groups sue over latest ag-gag law

Animal rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging a new Iowa law that makes it a trespass crime to conduct undercover investigations at livestock farms, a measure the Legislature approved just weeks after a federal judge struck down a similar law.

The latest bill was approved by the Senate and House on March 12 and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds two days later. It creates a trespass charge for those who use deception to gain access to a farm to cause physical or economic harm, with a penalty of up to a year in jail. It also allows for a conspiracy charge that carries a similar penalty.

Iowa lawmakers passed the new law just two months after a federal judge struck down a law they passed in 2012 that the court concluded violated free-speech rights. That law made it a fraud crime to lie to get a job at a farm to do undercover investigations. The ruling is on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The latest lawsuit claims the new law violates constitutional free speech and due process rights and is unconstitutionally vague and overly broad. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement, Bailing Out Benji, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Center for Food Safety ask a judge to prevent the state from enforcing the law and to strike it down as unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is providing legal assistance in the case.

JANESVILLE, WI

Forbes recognizes Blain’s Farm & Fleet

Blain’s Farm & Fleet announced that it has been recognized on Forbes magazine’s 2019 list of America’s Best Mid-Size Employers. The list, released annually, is based on extensive research in which Forbes seeks to discover which U.S. companies are the most successful at making their employees “feel happy, inspired, and well-compensated.”

The company was founded more than 60 years ago by the Blain family with its core mission to "treat associates like family and customers like neighbors."

The list represents the top 500 mid-size companies – those with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. It was compiled by surveying more than 50,000 employees across 25 industries. Blain’s Farm & Fleet employs more than 4,000 associates in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.

PARIS, FRANCE

Honeybees survive cathedral fire

After historians breathed a sigh of relief over the preservation of the many artifacts inside of the Notre Dame Cathedral, bee enthusiasts are now rejoicing over the miraculous survival of the building’s 180,000 pollinators.

According to the Good News Network, there have been a trio of beehives nestled on top of the cathedral’s roof for the past six years. The hives were just a few honeybee colonies that were installed across the city as a means of of boosting dwindling pollinator populations in Europe.

The hives have been managed by Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant.  Following the fire, satellite photos showed that the three hives had made it through the fire, as well as the bees inside. Instead of killing them, the CO2 from the smoke put them to sleep, Geant said.

The bees are particularly lucky because the hives reside only 100 feet under where the roof was burning. If their hives had been heated to 145.4 degrees, the hive wax would have melted and the bees would have perished.

 

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