Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Feral Swine Act

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed SB1142 ((final version link)), the Feral Swine Control Act, on May 20, 2016.  The proposed bill allows the hunting of all wild hogs without a hunting license. Additionally, the following, often regulated or prohibited activities, would also be allowed when for hunting wild hogs, also without a hunting license: use of ATVs or other land vehicles to pursue or follow ferile swin; use a vehicle mounted spotlight; and use night-vision equipment or thermal-imaging technology.

Feral swine are deemed invasive species by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS for a more manageable name) and “cause cause damage to agricultural crops and livestock and threaten native wildlife and habitats” with its income impact estimate alone at $2 billion. SB1142 seeks protect Oklahoma’s agribusiness and natural lands.

Source: AmericanHunger.org

Opponents of the bill note that it would make it exponentially easier for poachers and exponentially harder for game wardens to effectively do their jobs in keeping the wildlife ecosystem in Oklahoma in balance and preventing illegal poaching. License free hunting on public land also creates a public safety issue. Moreover, there is nothing to show that hog hunting actually reduces the feral swing population and USDA research shows that controlled hog trapping, done by game management specialists, is the most effective population control system (source).

Personal opinion: this all really highlights the tedious balance of wildlife population control.

Brochure reading material from USDA APHIS on feral swine in the US

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Department of Agriculture

Reaching the groundbreaking Paris Agreement was arguably the easy part. Implementation in the United States is going to require bureaucratic participation from more than just the EPA.

Listen to US Department of Agricukture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s comments on implementing climate change iniatives here.

U.S. House Blocks State Laws that Require GMO Labelling

On Thursday, July 23, 2015, the United States House of Representatives passed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” (or, as opponents call it, the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” Act) with 275 representatives voting in favor of the bill and 150 opposed.  This bill makes the labeling of food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) voluntary, and is applied nationally. This has the effect of preempting and overruling the states that are attempting to or have passed laws that require that all GMO containing food-products be labelled accordingly (Maine and Connecticut, for example).

Many food and agricultural companies lobbied for the bill, stating the requirement that some states put on them (or would put on them, should individual states pass label requirement laws) would be heavily burdensome. Conversely, those opposed to GMOs continue to cite that science is unclear on the effects that GMOs have on the environment and on the consumer.

Oregon Senate Bill 207

In interesting remedy to the dichotomy created by the infamous US Supreme Court Monsanto decision [or as some characterize the predatory and evil practices of Monsanto], Oregon introduced a bill earlier this year that seeks to help the often targeted smaller farmers.

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Senate Bill 207 seeks to establish “control areas” between growers of genetically modified ((and thus patent-protected) plants and the growing of “other plants” in order to avoid conflicts between growers that naturally arise from cross-pollination (wherein plants accidentally incorporate legally protected biotech genes, potentially incurring large monetary liability on innocent farmers merely based on wind patterns and proximity.

Oregon’s legislative session ends July 30, 2015 and this bill is currently sitting in a committee, so if you are an Oregon resident, find your legislator and contribute to the discussion or stay informed!

Legislation Roundup – Arizona

What sort of agricultural laws is your state considering to pass?  Legislation Roundup highlights the laws that each state’s legislative branch is considering in session.  Never forget the importance of public political participation.  If you live in any of these states and support or oppose any state legislation, never hesitate to contact your assembly(wo)man/representative/senator and voice your opinion!  We pay their salaries in taxes.

  • HB2222 – would create the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council to implement programs to promote the health of Arizona’s cotton industry.  The council terminates on July 1, 2014.
  • SB1478 – creates the Watershed Improvement Program which provides funds for projects that reduce noxious brush and vegetation to allow for revegetation for the land.