National

Farm Bill brings opportunity, loss to University of Minnesota's agricultural faculty, staff and students

Junior Biology major Laura Billstein works as a lab assistant moving plants to prepare for a botany class in Plant Growth Facilities on St. Paul campus, Friday. (Photo by Lisa Persson)

The University of Minnesota’s ties to the agriculture industry and communities in greater Minnesota mean the much-delayed passage of the 2014 Farm Bill hits home for students and employees alike.

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Climate hubs: A step forward

It’s a big week in the agriculture world. Just days before Obama signed the new Farm Bill into law, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the locations of seven regional hubs for climate change adaptation and mitigation. These hubs will attempt to address the risks that farmers increasingly face due to climate change—including fires, pests, droughts and floods—by disseminating research on ways landowners can adapt to and adjust management strategies to build resilience.

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We deserve more than this bad Farm Bill

Was it just exhaustion from two-plus years of negotiations that finally produced the Farm Bill that is expected to be signed by the President this week? Or, was it the sense that “it could have been a lot worse” when compared with a mean-spirited, destructive Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives last year. For whatever reason, there is a sense that a deeply flawed Farm Bill—the terms of which were dictated largely by austerity fanatics from the start—is the best we’ll get under the current political environment.

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MinnesotaCare unites us in a time of divisiveness

Last month, I had the privilege to be a part of something special in Minnesota when a whole lot of groups that aren’t usually all on the same page came together to support MinnesotaCare.

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Minnesota won't get hit by food-aid cuts in farm deal

Food-assistance funding in the bill won’t have an impact here because Minnesota officials didn't use a heating-assistance loophole to get more food stamps for hungry residents as other states did. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

From where Byron Laher sits, the economy and the bitter-cold will have a more profound effect on Minnesotans needing food than the reported federal farm bill deal in Washington.

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New bill may kill phone theft, requires controversial phone "kill switch"

In attempts to combat rising smartphone theft across the nation, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is planning to introduce a bill requiring cellphone manufacturers to include a “kill switch” on their products.

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More Head Start funding and turnaround flexibility in new federal spending bill

There are some hopeful signs for education policy coming out of the new federal spending bill, and not just for the programs that got big wins. In addition to restoring most of the federal money cut during the sequester, the bill also includes some tweaks to school turnaround that suggest a rewrite of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) might actually be possible at some point.

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Network neutrality decision underscores importance of community owned networks

In a decision announced a few hours ago, the DC Circuit of Appeals has largely ruled against the Open Internet, or network neutrality. These are rules established by the Federal Communications Commission to prevent massive ISPs like Comcast and AT&T from degrading or blocking access to certain sites on the Internet. Decision here [pdf].

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Minnesota anti-trafficking model inspires federal legislation

Minnesota passed the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Act in 2011, laying the groundwork for a victim-centered response to sexually exploited children and those at risk of sexual exploitation. The Advocates for Human Rights knew when we drafted the Safe Harbor Act that it marked a sea change in how sexually exploited youth are treated in Minnesota by identifying these kids as victims of crimes, rather than criminal perpetrators.

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Voting with our forks isn't enough to build true food security

The illusion of choice takes away from our ability to get to a just, sustainable food system, meaning we’ll have to “Vote with our Vote.” We can’t afford to just “Vote with our Fork.”

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