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MADISON, WI

Hemp legislation moves to the Governor’s desk

Hemp has a home in Wisconsin. The Growing Opportunities Act, which updates Wisconsin’s hemp law following the passage of the 2018 federal farm bill, passed the Assembly unanimously on Tuesday Nov. 12, after sailing through the Senate with broad bi-partisan support last month. 

Senators Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) partnered with Representatives Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) to introduce the Growing Opportunities Act this past spring. The bill makes a number of changes to the state’s hemp law to accommodate changes at the federal level and to incorporate lessons from the first two years of hemp cultivation in nearly six decades. 

The Growing Opportunities Act now awaits the signature of Governor Evers, who has indicated that he will sign it into law. 

MOLINE, IL

CES Innovation Awards honors John Deere in Tech for a Better World category

John Deere (NYSE: DE) is being honored in the Tech for a Better World category of the 2020 CES Innovation Awards, which recognize outstanding product design and engineering in consumer technology products.

Deere is an Innovation Awards Honoree for its new 8RX tractor that integrates artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, and advanced automation to help farmers work more efficiently while also gathering data to make more informed decisions and increase future machine intelligence.

"Our focus remains on providing innovative solutions to help customers meet the many challenges of farming. We are humbled by this award from a leading technology organization as it highlights our equal commitment to agriculture, innovation, and technology," said John Stone, senior vice president of Deere's Intelligent Solutions Group.

According to PRNewswire, the CES Innovation Awards program is an annual competition. The Tech for a Better World category honors products that impact society and the world in a positive way.

"The 8RX is a high horsepower row crop tractor with four tracks that integrates smart technology in a user-friendly design," said Dr. Bernhard Haas, senior vice president of Deere's Global Tractor Platform. "This award recognizes our focus on innovation in precision agriculture that enables farmers to increase productivity as they meet the challenge of feeding the rapidly-growing global population."

ATLANTA, GA

Georgia moves closer to legal hemp production

Georgia farmers are poised to cash in on the cannabis craze.

By the end of the year, state officials plan to submit proposed rules to the federal government for growing hemp, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

That means Georgia farmers could begin legally raising the crop as early as this spring.

Hemp is used to make CBD, the suddenly popular compound extracted from the cannabis plant. Marketers say it can treat a range of ailments without getting users high.

CBD oil in Georgia has so far come from other states.

Under Georgia's proposed hemp rules, farmers would only be able to sell hemp to state-licensed processing companies.

Hemp crops grown by licensed farmers would also face inspection. If they exceed a limit for THC — the compound that gives marijuana users a high — they will be destroyed, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Federal rules for growing hemp were recently published. The state's proposal must comply with those rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is aiming to approve state hemp plans within 60 days of their submission, said Julie McPeake, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Once the state receives that approval, Georgia will move fast to propose a final set of rules that could be in place soon after a 30-day public comment period, McPeake told the Journal-Constitution, according to the Associated Press.

LINCOLN, NE

County board rejects permit for 380,000-chicken farm

Lancaster County commissioners won't approve construction of a 380,000-chicken farm that would have supplied birds to the Fremont processing plant for Costco.

According to the Associated Press, the board voted 3-2 Thursday against a special permit for Sunset Poultry, which wanted to construct eight barns housing up to 47,500 chickens apiece.

Commissioners who voted against the permit said the operation just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) north of Raymond Central Junior-Senior High School would have posed too many risky unknowns.

School officials and nearby residents raised questions about the farm's impact on water quantity and air quality. They also said semitrailer traffic to and from the farm might make roads dangerous for inexperienced, school-age drivers.

YAKIMA, WA

Washington apple crop one of largest in history

This year's Washington apple crop is one of the largest in history.

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association estimates the crop at 138.2 million 40-pound boxes.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that figure is well above the 116.7 million boxes harvested a year ago. But this year's crop is smaller than the record 141.8 million boxes of 2014.

The association says the harvest is nearly complete statewide. The crop estimate only includes apples expected to be sold fresh, rather than sent to a processor for conversion into juice or applesauce.

Gala was the top variety, making up 23.5% of the overall Washington crop. Red Delicious was No. 2 at 19.7%.

COLUMBUS, OH

Ohio-grown Christmas trees headed to troops

Tree farmers in Ohio are joining forces with the state to send a little holiday cheer to the troops overseas.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Christmas Tree Association are partnering on an effort that will ship more than 100 Christmas trees to military members stationed overseas, according to the Associated Press.

Growers will donate the trees and state inspectors will make sure they are free of pests and disease. Both groups will work with volunteers Tuesday to wrap, load and ship the trees at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Columbus.

Each shipment will also include decorations provides by school children, churches and veterans' groups.

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