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ND makes the grade in a national report evaluating public school support; SCOTUS justices express free speech concerns about GOP-backed social media laws; NH "kids on campus" program boosts retention; proposed law bans hemp sales to Hoosiers younger than 21.

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The Supreme Court hears arguments on whether social media can restrict content. Biden advisors point to anti-democracy speeches at CPAC, and the President heads to the US-Mexico border appealing to voters on immigration and border issues.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Some SD farmers unhappy with industrial ag getting conservation funds

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Friday, December 8, 2023   

Agriculture accounts for more than 10% of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States. Advocates for small farms in South Dakota hope the next Farm Bill curbs spending for industrial operations linked to those emissions.

Like many sectors, "ag" is under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. Congress recently punted reauthorization of the Farm Bill, which maps out spending for many farm and food-aid programs - to 2024.

Aaron Johnson, an organic producer south of Madison, hopes when lawmakers ramp up the debate, they take a closer look at conservation funding and where the money has been flowing.

"Nationwide," he said, "I see some abuse with the EQIP program and these biodigesters, that are just not functional unless they are heavily subsidized, by taxpayers and by the Farm Bill."

Johnson was referring to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which funds biodigesters. They capture methane from manure at factory farms, converting it to energy sources. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, it's the most expensive program practice and does more harm than good. But large operators contend they're responding to the demand for safely grown meat, and are always working to modernize environmental practices.

However, Johnson pointed out that including industrial agriculture in conservation funding leaves less money for smaller producers who carry out non-mechanical practices.

"I'm doing a nutrient management program, making sure that I'm not over-applying or under-applying -- using exactly what crops need," he said.

Johnson said that makes the soil on his land healthier, making it easier to absorb water and reduce any harmful runoff. He was one of many farmers who recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss these issues with members of Congress.


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Oregon lawmakers have two weeks left in the session to approve funding for the Summer EBT program that helps feed children when school's out. (Lindsay Trapnell/Oregon Food Bank)

Social Issues

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A program that would provide food benefits to kids during the summer still needs funding approval from the Oregon Legislature. The state has …


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Social Issues

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By Kayla Benjamin for The Washington Informer.Broadcast version by Brett Peveto for Maryland News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Ne…

 

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