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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

MN farmers push for more protection from corporate agriculture in Farm Bill

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Monday, June 17, 2024   

With a September deadline looming for Congress to finish work on renewing the Farm Bill, Minnesota family farmers are pushing for more regulations to curb the abuses of large factory farms.

Advocacy groups say too much of the funding meant for small, rural communities is being snapped up by corporate entities running huge operations that push small farmers out of the market.

Matthew Sheets is an organizer who represents family farms for the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project. He said they want several items included in the final bill.

"I'm really hoping that they can get something done," said Sheets. "I mean, the Farm Bill is an incredibly important piece of legislation not just for farmers, but for families. We're all connected to the food system, right? And the farm bill is the most comprehensive piece of food-system legislation that Congress passes."

The Farm Bill is an omnibus, multi-year law renewed every five years that governs a wide array of agricultural and food programs. The current version of the Farm Bill expires on September 30.

Sheets said family farmers are calling for sweeping changes to reduce the level of subsidies for large-scale factory farm operations through conservation programs - that should instead support smaller, independent farms.

They also want stronger measures to restore competition in livestock markets, rein in abuses by large meatpackers, and level the playing field for independent producers.

"Minnesota is fortunate that we have pretty robust local control laws," said Sheets. "These laws mean that counties and even townships, in some cases, have the final say on whether or not a large factory farm is actually built before any groundbreaking happens."

Sheets said large corporate-owned operations are getting in line for subsidies in energy projects, rural land development, and market enhancements - which, he believes, ought to benefit family farmers and rural communities.

"Those dollars are supposed to be for energy projects in rural areas," said Sheets. "They're also supposed to be for conservation practices, for things that build up the land and build up rural communities. And we know that factory farms don't do that."


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