Combative Rep. Steve King is challenged by high-ranking legislator

Randy Feenstra, a Republican leader in the Iowa Senate, announced that he will run against Rep. Steve King in the 2020 Republican congressional primary in northwestern Iowa on a promise of effective conservative leadership.

DoJ’s stance on California egg law could bode well for other states

In a surprising amicus brief, the Justice Department last week recommended that the Supreme Court not hear Missouri’s challenge to California’s animal-welfare laws, which mandate larger cages for some farm animals. The stance could bode well for animal-welfare advocates fighting for similar legislation in other states.

Farm states sue Massachusetts over its livestock welfare law

Thirteen agricultural states filed suit in U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning a Massachusetts law that effectively bans the sale of eggs, pork, and veal produced by farms that use “battery” cages for hens, sow crates in hog operations, and veal-calf stalls.

Political analyst quits Democratic Party over rural inaction

Matt Barron, the chairman of the Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee in western Massachusetts, "has resigned and left the party due to what he says is the party's blatant failure to address rural concerns," said the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Barron, who runs a political consulting business, told the newspaper in Northhampton, Mass., that he acted "after nine years of of growing frustration at the inability of the party to compete for rural and white working class voters."

Soda tax rises again as Massachusetts statehouse issue

Energized by victories in four cities and Illinois' largest county, Massachusetts state Rep. Kay Khan says she will introduce a soda-tax bill when the legislature meets in January, says public broadcaster WBUR-FM. Khan championed the tax in the past but believes this time is different: "I think it does make a difference to see that others are thinking about this, and you're not standing out there alone."

Oklahoma rejects right-to-farm amendment in rebuff of ag lobby

Farm groups that said they wanted protection against out-of-state animal rights activists and anti-GMO campaigners failed to persuade Oklahoma voters, who rejected a proposed right-to-farm amendment to the state constitution by a landslide. The defeat, along with passage of a Massachusetts referendum on livestock welfare, dented the reputation of farm lobby, which failed to stop a nationwide GMO disclosure law in July.

Opponents call farm animal referendum in Massachusetts a food tax

Half-a-dozen farm, retail and agribusiness groups say a voter initiative in Massachusetts on animal welfare will drive up production costs and equate to an indirect food tax. The proposal, which had more than 2-to-1 support in a recent opinion poll, would end the use of sow crates, veal calf stalls and battery cages for egg-laying hens.

Like California farmers, Northeasterners grapple with drought

The U.S. Northeast, home to 175,000 farms, is under the worst drought in more than a decade, says the NPR blog The Salt. "Many fields are bone dry," says NPR, "and that has many farmers thinking about how to manage their land, their animals and the water that is there."

Class warfare alleged in Massachusetts animal-welfare referendum

The upcoming Massachusetts referendum on animal welfare standards - requiring more space for poultry, pigs and calves - boils down to "a class thing," says the executive director of a group that is challenging the proposal in court.

Small financial impact when schools sell healthier meals and snacks

A study of 11 school districts in Massachusetts, where requirements for healthier school meals and snacks took effect at the same time, saw a 6.6 percent drop in food service revenue in the first year but revenues rebounded in the second year to nearly the same level as before, says the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.