Dec. 27 Agriculture Briefs

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Firefighters volunteering at deceased comrade’s farm

MARATHON, N.Y. (AP) — Firefighters are continuing to volunteer at the farm of an upstate New York firefighter who recently died from injuries suffered in an off-duty traffic accident late last fall. Stephen Zelsnack, 48, was driving back from a farm supply store in Cayuga County on Nov. 30 when state police say his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer. He Dec. 21 at a Syracuse hospital.

After the accident, his friends and colleagues at the Cortland Fire Department began volunteering at Zelsnack’s 228-acre Cortland County to care for the family’s livestock, which include 100 beef cattle and dozens of sheep and 13 pigs.

Other firefighters from neighboring Broome and Chenango counties have also pitched in. Friends say the volunteer farm duty will continue into the new year.

NM cannabis firm adds hemp

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico cannabis company says it’s expanding its business to include hemp.

Ultra Health says in a Dec. 24 news release that it was awarded continual production licenses to grow hemp at its Bernalillo and Tularosa sites and will dedicate 872,000 square feet of its operation to hemp cultivation.

President Donald Trump last week signed a bill that removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

The Farm Bill also legalized interstate commerce of hemp products, giving hemp farmers access to crop insurance, and empowering state and tribal governments to impose separate requirements on the production and sale of hemp products. Hemp supporters in New Mexico have said the product could prove lucrative for farmers because the crop can be used to make a variety of products such as clothes.

Lawmaker dies on farm

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas lawmaker who ran unsuccessfully for county judge has died from an apparent farming accident.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports Jim House died Dec. 19. The newspaper reports the Washington County coroner confirmed the death of the 70-year-old House, who served in the state House from 2007 until 2011.

The Democrat House was first elected to the state House in 2006 and won re-election 2008. He lost his re-election bid to Republican Rep. Charlie Collins in 2010. During his last term in the Legislature, House served as co-chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing committee.

House unsuccessfully challenged Washington County Judge Joseph Wood, a Republican, in last month’s general election. House was a farmer who entered politics after a 26-year career at the state Department of Health.

Cage-free hen ban delayed

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are moving to delay a requirement that farm animals confined in small spaces be given more room.

The Legislature sent Gov. Rick Snyder legislation this month that would push back standards scheduled to take effect for egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs in October 2019. Farmers wouldn’t have to comply until April 2020 for hens and October 2025 for pigs under the bill.

Animal advocates consider close confinement inhumane. The law bans commonly used cages and stalls.

The legislation would, starting in October 2025, also ban the sale of shelled eggs within Michigan from hens not given enough room to move, including if the eggs were produced outside Michigan.