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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

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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