Montana federal farm subsidies for trade wars grow to $114 million

BILLINGS, Mont. — Data indicates federal subsidies distributed to Montana farmers to offset losses resulting from U.S. trade wars have increased to more than $114 million.

The Billings Gazette reported subsidies issued in October pushed the value of 2019 payments to about $92.4 million, while the state received about $22.1 million in 2018 subsidies.

The Market Facilitation Program payment data was compiled by advocacy organization Environmental Working Group.

The subsidies are intended to soften the financial impact on U.S. farmers because of trade conflicts with China, Europe, India and Japan.

The Environmental Working Group ranks Montana 23rd in the nation for federal farm subsidies received.

Officials said wheat subsidies of $25.5 million were Montana’s largest category of federal relief.

The group said states receiving the most money are located in the Midwest.

Crater Lake National Park seeks help with recent damage

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Authorities at Crater Lake National Park say someone driving off road damaged plants and other resources, and they’re asking for the public’s help in finding who is responsible.

The Herald and News reported park rangers believe the incident happened late Nov. 23 or early Nov. 24.

According to a park Facebook post, driving off roadways and damaging resources is a federal crime punishable by up to $5,000 and/or six months imprisonment for each offense.

The park said there is a short window during summer months in which plants in the park get sunlight to grow. The rest of the year they can be buried in deep snow.

The park said staff spends time each year fixing areas damaged by visitors not staying on roads or trails.

Wrongly delivered urine sample prompts theater evacuation

NORTH BEND, Wash.— A movie theater in the small Washington city of North Bend was evacuated after authorities say a packaged labeled as containing a “highly contagious human substance” was sent there in error.

KOMO reported the package contained a urine sample.

Sgt. Paul Graham with Snoqualmie Police said the package arrived at the theater late Friday and the theater manager found a box with the labeled liquid inside.

The theater was evacuated, and local streets were closed as hazmat crews responded.

Graham said the package was supposed to have been delivered to a medical clinic in Tacoma. It was unclear how it ended up more than 40 miles away in North Bend.

Snoqualmie Police provide police services to North Bend.

Little seeks review of lake water quality

COEUR D’ALENE — Gov. Brad Little is calling for a third-party review of Lake Coeur d’Alene water quality, as the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has expressed frustration with management plans.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reported for the past two decades, the state and tribe have worked to track toxins and compile plans showing to reduce pollutants.

Phil Cernera, who directs the tribe’s lake management department, cited inaction and a seeming unwillingness by the state to act to clean up the lake as reasons for the tribe leaving the process.

Agriculture, leaking septic systems and municipal sewer plants add phosphorus into the water.

Heavy metals on the lake bottom are from mining. The toxins become part of the water column when oxygen is low.

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