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State Ag and Rural Leaders


  • Workshop teaches benefits, law of agritourism |

    By Brad Buck

    Many farmers are incorporating tourism into their operations to draw visitors and earn an alternate source of income. If you’re interested in establishing an agritourism business, you can now register for and attend a workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 14 on Zoom.

    Luis Rodriguez and Allie Williams, the agriculture agents for UF/IFAS Extension Polk and Hillsborough counties, respectively, will host the workshop.

    Topics include:

    • Laws and regulations of agritourism in Florida.
    • Cottage food and winery laws.
    • Florida Agritourism Association.

    “Farmers are increasingly interested in agritourism as a secondary source of revenue,” Rodriguez said. “I want the participants to understand the Florida Agritourism law, how they can implement agritourism within their farm, what activities are considered agritourism and what resources are available for them.”

    Rodriguez and Williams work with small farmers in their respective counties. Additionally, the two agents attended the Florida Agritourism Association Conference in July, where they met people who incorporate tourism into their agricultural operations.

    “The small-scale producers often look for additional revenue sources to support the farm, and with agritourism a hot topic, we decided to offer this workshop,” Williams said.

    Florida is a natural location for agritourism as it marries the state’s two largest industries to provide an on-farm recreational experience for consumers.

    According to this AskIFAS publication, agritourism provides many opportunities for people to learn about the origin of foods they eat. For example, school children come to farms for field trips. Agritourism can also benefit the environment and wildlife. Some types of agritourism include bird watching, wildlife viewing and fishing.

    It allows the public to participate in activities that involve:

    • Special events, like venues for weddings and parties,
    • Recreation such as hayrides or mazes,
    • Entertainment, including festivals,
    • Education, such as farm tours,
    • Harvest-your-own activities (U-Pick).

    “In my role, I work directly with small-scale farmers and livestock producers,” Williams said. “Some of these producers have brought up the idea of adding an agritourism component to their farm. I see agritourism as a way to share with others about agriculture and provide opportunities to understand the work that goes into growing their food.”

    Post date: Tue, 10/10/2023 - 09:22
  • County ramping up to comply with state’s organic waste law |
    • By CLAUDIA ELLIOTT For Tehachapi News






    Three collection cans, including one for food and organic waste, are coming to some parts of the Greater Tehachapi Area sometime next year.

    • Courtesy of Cal Recycle


    Unincorporated areas of Tehachapi that are within the Tehachapi Universal Collection Area for mandatory three-can trash collection are shown in red. The city of Tehachapi, Bear Valley Springs, Golden Hills and Stallion Springs are not part of the Tehachapi UCA.

    • Courtesy of Kern County



    If you live in some areas of greater Tehachapi — not including the city, Bear Valley Springs, Golden Hills or Stallion Springs — be prepared to learn about and pay for universal collection.

    As reported by The Bakersfield Californian on Sept. 12, counties across California are required to implement a qualified waste disposal system by Jan. 1 as part of Senate Bill 1383, a 2016 state law with a goal of throwing 75% less organic waste into landfills by 2025. This includes all census tracts containing more than 75 people per square mile.

    Property owners in affected areas will soon receive — or may have already received — a letter from the county informing them about the plan to establish universal collection areas to meet state requirements.


    Within each of the collection areas, the county plans to implement a three-container waste collection system with one can each for regular household trash, recyclables and organics, including food waste.

    Payment will be through the county’s property tax system. The $559.80 per residential unit per year rate includes a $12 per unit per year Solid Waste Administration Fee.

    The Tehachapi Universal Collection area will use WM as a waste hauler and 451 residential parcels have been identified as those that will be charged $559.80 per year.

    According to a report provided to the Kern County Board of Supervisors at its Sept. 12 meeting, people who reside in the Tehachapi Universal Collection Area may be self-hauling trash or may already be participating in a two-can collection program.

    “If they are currently using the service of a franchise hauler, then they are already paying $26.63 per residential living unit per month,” the report said.

    The monthly charge will be discontinued once the board approves universal collection.

    Proposition 218 hearing

    Because the universal collection program charges will be collected on the tax roll, California law requires that the county go through what is called the Proposition 218 process before the charges can be imposed.


    The Board of Supervisors has set public hearings for each of the county’s 14 universal collection areas on Dec. 5.

    Property owners may protest the planned charges in writing. The Board of Supervisors will not be able to adopt the charges if a majority of property owners submit a written protest.

    Protests must be received no later than the time of the hearing and each must include the name of the property owner or tenant, the address or Assessor’s Parcel Number and be signed in a manner that allows confirmation of the owner’s name.

    Informational meetings

    The county plans a number of informational meetings prior to the Dec. 5 public hearing.

    In Tehachapi, the meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Tehachapi Veterans Building, 125 E. F St.

    Another meeting for any of the 14 collection areas will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Public Services Building, 2700 M St., Bakersfield.

    City, other areas

    The city of Tehachapi is also working through a years-long process to comply with the law and is awaiting a rate study recently authorized by the City Council. Once the study is complete, the city will work with its contractor, WM, to establish rates.

    In a report to the council on Sept. 18, Assistant City Manager Corey Costelloe said city plans to add a third can for residential customers by next summer. 

    Post date: Tue, 10/10/2023 - 09:20
  • Governor Reynolds urging Congress to pass agriculture law |

    DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Kim Reynolds is urging Congress to pass a law that she says would help protect the agriculture industry.

    Governor Reynolds joined ten other Republican Governors in supporting a bill that would prevent states from impeding agricultural trade between states.

    This is in response to the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold a California law that regards pork sold in its state.


    The law, Proposition 12, requires that pork needs to come from pigs whose mothers were raised with the ability to lie down and turn around.

    In total, it requires that pigs have 24 square feet of space. If the pork does not meet those requirements, it can not be sold in California.


    Iowa is the leading pork producer in the United States.

    Post date: Wed, 06/14/2023 - 11:41
  • New agriculture committee puts focus on region |

    Western Massachusetts will have ample representation on a new legislative committee focusing on agriculture.

    Sens. Ann Gobi, D-Spencer, and Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, were named Senate chair and co-chair of the new Agriculture Committee while Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, will serve as vice chair on the House side, with Rep. Paul Schmid, D-Westport, as House chair.

    The panel was created as part of the new committee assignments announced by House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, and Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, earlier this month. Previously there was an Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee.

    “I’m excited, part of what my job is in the Senate is to advance my own position on behalf of constituents,” said Comerford, who will also serve as Senate chair of the Higher Education Committee and assistant vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Northampton Democrat’s other assignments include committees focusing on economic development and emerging technologies, racial equity, civil rights and inclusion and Senate committees on global warming and climate change, and rules.

    Comerford said there are hundreds of farms that continue to be underrepresented in the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district. She said that this new and focused committee will help farmers and their “bottom lines.”

    Among the bills it will consider are five Comerford has filed, including measures strengthening local food systems and promoting equity in agriculture.


    Post date: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 11:52
  • Colorado passes first right-to-repair law; others could follow |

    Colorado’s first-in-the-nation law allowing farmers to repair their own equipment could be “the first chink in the armor” that has allowed only manufacturers to complete some repairs, said Rusty Rumley, senior staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center.

    Farmers have long been accustomed to repairing their equipment or turning to a nearby independent repair shop to make speedy fixes during planting, growing, and harvest. In the last decade or so, farmers have found those efforts thwarted not only by increasingly complex technology and lack of manuals and tools, but also protection of intellectual property that goes along with software-driven machinery.

    Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill on April 25, hailing it as “a common-sense bipartisan bill to help people avoid unnecessary delays from equipment repairs.”

    Starting January 1, 2024, the Colorado law will require manufacturers of agricultural equipment to provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, or documentation, such as diagnostic, maintenance, or repair manuals, diagrams, or similar information resources, to independent repair providers and owners of the manufacturer's agricultural equipment to allow them to service or repair the owner's agricultural equipment.

    “Farmers and ranchers can lose precious weeks and months when equipment repairs are stalled due to long turnaround times by manufacturers and dealers,” Polis said.

    For the manufacturers, there are worries over trade secrets.

    “How much of the computer code are they going to say they can’t release because competitors could take it and use it themselves,” Rumley said. “They might say that this should be protected by trade secrets, so there may be some litigation on aspects such as that. For a lot of these companies, the repair side of the industry is, or has been, a really important economic driver. It’s not just selling the new tractor or combine, it’s the repair work.”


    Rumley said agriculture equipment is only one aspect of a larger story. Similar issues exist with motorized wheelchairs, phones, tablets, and other electronic equipment. The Colorado law includes motorized wheelchairs, but not consumer electronics items.

    “There are some 50 pieces of right-to-repair legislation floating out there amongst the states,” he said. “There’s a lot of push out there, and this is the first one to get past, at least on the ag side.”

    One characteristic of the Colorado law is “it specifically says, if Congress ever passes a national right-to-repair act, the Colorado one goes away and they'll live with whatever the federal one is,” Rumley said. “I don’t think we’re close to a federal one yet.”

    Back in January, ag equipment maker John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation to ensure farmers and ranchers retained the right to repair their own equipment.

    Post date: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 11:49

The State Ag and Rural Leaders group was formed in 2006 at the 5th Annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit in Tempe, Arizona. The first Legislative Ag Chairs Summit was in Dallas in 2002.

Ag and Rural Leaders

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is dedicated to promoting and fostering cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators that are passionate about agriculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, to provide and promote educational opportunities for state officials and others on technology, policy, processes and issues that are of concern to agrculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS produces the national agriculture and rural enewsletter - Ag Clips, webinars, white papers and the annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is managed by an elected board of state and provincial legislators.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is where state leaders find the answers they need on agriculture and rural policy issues.