Monday, Oct 20, 2014
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Givemeliberty - Raw milk industry draws attention from Illinois regulators - Quincy, IL News - QuincyJournal.com
With everything we have going on in this state and they are on a raw milk kick? Americans have been buying and selling farm produce at the local level for centuries, just leave it alone. Why do they always have to step in and put their grubby little paws on every frickin thing we do? I am a consumer of raw milk, and I am capable of nourishing my own body, leave me and my farmer alone and do something…
pjohnf - Bill Clinton to address workers at pro-Quinn rally - Quincy, IL News - QuincyJournal.com
So does that mean your okay with a lying adulterer, accused of sexual assault, disbarred lawyer, lying, impeached ex-president?
Givemeliberty - Bill Clinton to address workers at pro-Quinn rally - Quincy, IL News - QuincyJournal.com
So true and its usually the voters that make me want to pull my hair out not the politicians. The dem voters have always been upset about corporate welfare/ favoritism, and sending jobs over seas until Obama got elected. Not long after he was elected the Republicans became concerned with the Patriot Act, and hawks on our privacy. The majority of voters talk and act like they have issues they care…
quincymike - School Board to outline plans for savings, old buildings if referendum passes - Quincy, IL News - Qu
#1. The board, from what I understand, has basically stated that impact on property taxes should be negligible. That is mostly because of the huge decrease in Life safety bonds that have to be issued. and the expiring existing school bonds, and net savings from operating new "energy star" buildings". You have to understand that Life Safety bonds can be issued with out tax payer approval. These…
WarCry - School Board to outline plans for savings, old buildings if referendum passes - Quincy, IL News - Qu
What would you propose they do with the QAVTC in that case? They teach more than just the high school students there, you know.

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Rural lawmakers struggle to make themselves heard

7 months, 3 weeks ago From Associated Press

Lawmakers and political experts say the dwindling numbers of farmers, ranchers and others who make their living off the land affects not just agricultural policy but other rural concerns

They're an endangered species in many state legislatures as more Americans move to urban centers or suburban cities: the rural lawmaker who knows what it's like to care for a herd, plant a crop or drive on gravel roads.

Indiana Rep. Bill Friend, a pork producer, said it's challenging to explain modern farming to colleagues who no longer have personal connections with agriculture. He calls it an annual educational project, as he knows of only one other state legislator who makes his living primarily from farming.

"They're one, two, three generations removed from food production and agriculture. It's kind of a foreign topic to them," said Friend, the Republican majority floor leader in the Indiana House.

Lawmakers and political experts say the dwindling numbers of farmers, ranchers and others who make their living off the land affects not just agricultural policy but other rural concerns - highways, health care, schools and high-speed Internet access. Urban and suburban lawmakers might be sympathetic, but they're often unfamiliar with particular concerns.

One Colorado legislator, a rancher, has even gone so far as to suggest each of his state's 64 counties have a single House seat instead of awarding representation according to population.

In ag-centric Nebraska, more than half of the legislators now come from the Omaha and Lincoln areas. Similarly, South Dakota's legislators are bunched near Sioux Falls or Rapid City - only 11 of South Dakota's 105 legislators as of last year were involved in agribusiness; in 1987, the figure was nearly three times higher.

It was once the opposite.

Rural interests had outsized influence in state capitols back when districts were often based on geography rather than population, said Tim Storey, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures. That changed when a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s said legislative districts must have roughly equal populations to ensure the principle of one person, one vote.

"That just makes it more difficult for the rural voice to be heard. It doesn't mean it can't be heard. It's just more challenging," according to Doug Farquhar, the conference's program director for agriculture and rural development.

Colorado state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg's radical idea of one representative per county comes out of his frustrations over not being heard - he is the only rural voice in the House. Currently, the state legislature's votes are heavily concentrated in the greater Denver and Colorado Springs areas.

He concedes the idea is constitutionally dubious, and follows a mostly symbolic ballot initiative in 11 rural Colorado counties last year to secede and form a 51st state amid disagreements over gun control, renewable energy mandates and other issues.

"I think it is an argument worth having," said Sonnenberg, who represents a sprawling district in the northeastern plains. "But I have no illusions this would ever go into effect."

Illinois was the nation's top soybean producer in 2013, and ranks No. 8 in the U.S. for number of farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture report release this week. But Democrat John Sullivan is the only active farmer in the Illinois Senate, with 200 acres of grain and a few cows.

Sullivan, an assistant majority leader, lamented that the Senate agriculture committee's chairman and other members don't have agricultural backgrounds. He expects a struggle to make the farming opinion heard as the chairman pushes legislation to require labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

"It just makes it more difficult to explain and talk to my colleagues when they're only hearing one side of it from opponents of GMO crops," Sullivan said.

In Minnesota, Rep. Rod Hamilton has long argued that rural concerns get neglected in St. Paul, where the number of farmers in the House stands at six - down from 14 as recently as 1995.

Hamilton, a Republican and pork producer, said he plans to work with other rural lawmakers from both parties in both chambers this session to protect shared interests against a leadership that's mostly from the Twin Cities area.

"You don't need that many votes to make an impact," he said.

Forming partnerships has been key for the only full-time farmer in the Maryland Senate, Thomas McLain "Mac" Middleton.

Maryland has some of the country's richest counties, but its poor, rural areas share many of the same problems as urban areas such as Baltimore - poverty, unemployment, teen pregnancies and lack of opportunities, Middleton said.

So he's made common cause with his urban counterparts to ensure that rural communities have access to education funding as well as high-speed Internet service.

Though his 250-acre farm has been in his family since the 1600s and his ancestors grew tobacco, Middleton converted the property mostly to agritourism. He hosts school groups and families to visit barnyard animals, take hay rides, navigate a corn maze or pick strawberries and pumpkins.

Broadband has been important to the growth of his and many other businesses in rural Maryland.

He said: "I fight real hard to make sure that rural communities don't get left behind."


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@Ben_WGEM Nothin to lose.