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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Pollution concerns prompt OR county to limit large-scale farms

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Thursday, December 21, 2023   

An Oregon county has enacted new restrictions on large-scale agriculture operations.

Linn County commissioners approved a one-mile setback rule from property lines for Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Small farmers in the county have celebrated the new rule as a win.

Kendra Kimbirauskas, a farmer in Scio, said the large-scale operations cannot help but have effects on neighbors.

"Mega-livestock operations come with a bunch of problems including air pollution, water pollution, traffic, noise," Kimbirauskas outlined. "The issue isn't so much the livestock operation itself. It's the scale of the livestock operation."

During the legislative session this year, Oregon lawmakers passed Senate Bill 85, which gives counties authority over the siting of large-scale ag operations. Opponents of the Linn County rule called it a ban on new livestock farms. According to the county, the setback rule limits the number of properties capable of having CAFOs to 89.

Kimbirauskas argued the rule makes sense for locals.

"A lot of these large-scale industrial farms are not local farmers," Kimbirauskas pointed out. "What we were experiencing in Linn County is these out-of-state corporations that were coming into our communities, buying up our farmland and taking our water."

Kimbirauskas noted others could follow Linn County's lead.

"Certainly, other counties in other areas are going to have to put something in place that works for their residents," Kimbirauskas suggested. "We think this is a model that can be looked at, and we think that adding more local control to communities is a good thing."


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