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Birmingham, Alabama's, FBI equips Miles College Police with tactical vests – Alabama News Center

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Birmingham, Alabama's, FBI equips Miles College Police with tactical vests – Alabama News Center


FBI Birmingham recently equipped Miles College police officers with legacy body armor designed to provide underfunded departments with effective equipment as another level of protection. Carlton Peeples, FBI special agent in charge, Birmingham Field Office, said Miles College law enforcement officers are “now equipped with one more tool to keep them safe as they



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Alabama

Proposed 2024 farm bill would cut SNAP benefits by nearly $30 billion

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Proposed 2024 farm bill would cut SNAP benefits by nearly $30 billion


On Thursday, the House Committee on Agriculture met to discuss amendments to the 2024 farm bill. The farm bill is a legislative package passed every five years that covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, agricultural research, billions in public subsidies for farmers, and other agricultural policy.

During Thursday’s meeting, Rep. Barry Moore, R-Alabama, said he was “pleased to see the fruition of the 2024 farm bill and especially pleased to see a strong farm bill that supports vital farm programs and safety net programs that are necessary to Alabama agriculture.”

“Since the last farm bill we passed, farmers, foresters, ranchers, and producers have fought tooth and nail to stay afloat against this administration and it’s consistently standing against them,” Moore said. “This legislation puts the farm back in farm bill.”

Democratic members of the House Committee on Agriculture were much more critical of the proposed farm bill, pointing to its projected effects on SNAP.

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The Republican proposal would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from increasing the price of its Thrifty Food Plan for any reason besides inflation; the Thrifty Food Plan is used to determine the amount of SNAP benefits. A proposed amendment removing this restriction from the farm bill was voted down by the committee along partisan lines.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this restriction would reduce funding for SNAP by almost $30 billion over the next ten years.

On May 20, the Urban Institute released a report stating that SNAP benefits already “did not cover the cost of a modestly priced meal in at least 98 percent of counties” in 2023. Without the last revision to the Thrifty Food Plan in 2021, according to another report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP benefits in 2024 would have been only $4.80 per person per day instead of the current rate of $6.20 per person per day.

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The CBPP also calculated, using the CBO’s estimates, that the proposed cut to SNAP “initially would be equal to a day’s worth of benefits each month. It would rise to almost two days’ worth by the end of the budget window.”

“You may think that losing one day or two days a month worth of food is not significant, but I do,” said Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, during the meeting.

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While Moore has not yet made a public statement regarding the proposed legislation’s effects on SNAP, he voted against the proposed amendment to allow the Department of Agriculture to update the Thrifty Food Plan and has criticized past expansions of the program. In February, Moore said that the Biden administration “play favorites with ERP [Emergency Relief Program], grab every tax dollar they can for SNAP, and pander to radical wealthy environmentalists.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, in February almost 750,000 people in Alabama benefited from SNAP.

Alabama Arise’s communications director, Chris Sanders, told APR that SNAP “provides an economic boost for farmers, retailers and communities across Alabama and across the country.”

“SNAP cuts would harm children, older adults, veterans, and people with disabilities across Alabama, and they would make it harder for working families to keep food on the table,” Sanders said. “Congress should reject efforts to undermine SNAP’s effectiveness and focus instead on ways to build on its successes.”

The farm bill, including the proposed changes to SNAP, passed the House Committee on Agriculture in a 33-21 vote, with 4 Democrats joining the Republican majority. However, during the committee meeting, several representatives pointed out that the farm bill is unlikely to become law as is, due to likely opposition from the Democratic majority in the Senate and the White House.

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Millions still needed for Alabama Farm Center in Warrior

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Millions still needed for Alabama Farm Center in Warrior


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Jefferson County Commissioners are currently discussing the future of the Hallmark Farm project in Warrior. Earlier this month, state lawmakers passed a bill to permit the Alabama Farmers Federation to construct a state-of-the-art agricultural center on approximately 500 acres.

Developers estimate that they will need about $80 million to complete the new Alabama Farm Center. The newly appointed state board is collaborating with county leaders to make this unique facility a reality.

The goal of the Jefferson County Commissioners is to begin construction by the end of the year. Leaders say it has been about 70 years since this level of investment was made in a regional agricultural center. The center is expected to create jobs, attract tourism, and generate revenue for the northern end of Jefferson County. Bolin also believes that the economic impact will be felt not only locally, but throughout the southeastern United States.

“People in the farming industry want to learn more and attend shows and events. This will attract a different group of people, leading to the development of hotels and other infrastructure in the area,” Bolin stated.

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Commissioners anticipate that this multi-purpose facility will bring tourism and attention to an area of Jefferson County that has been lacking in these aspects for some time. The plan is to allocate approximately $150 million to complete the center, and the commissioners have set a deadline of November to secure the necessary funding.

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West Alabama school districts see dramatic improvements in third grade reading proficiency

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West Alabama school districts see dramatic improvements in third grade reading proficiency


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) – Two public school districts in west Alabama have seen dramatic improvements in reading proficiency among the third graders in their systems.

In the Tuscaloosa City Schools district, school leaders say they’ve seen a 15% improvement in reading proficiency among their third graders throughout the district.

Martin Luther King Elementary School is a prime example of how it all came together. School district officials say it was a combination of hard work, commitment and dedication.

In practical terms, here’s what happened. They identified the reading deficits, and changed the focus from learning to read to reading to learn.

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Educators developed a personal plan for each student, a dose of regular instruction with after-school tutoring.

“But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to make sure more work was needed to be done, so those students were afforded an opportunity to stay after the school and get more remediation, more high dosage tutoring based on their specific goals they need to master, so it was not like a cookie-cutter approach. It was basically making sure that we were diagnosing what those issues were for each individual student and correcting those behaviors,” said Tuscaloosa City Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. James Pope.

The very same story played out in Eutaw in Greene County. School leaders there say an astounding 90% of their third graders are reading at or above grade level, up from 42% last year, according to Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones.

Both school districts say the goal now for both of them is to grow that number to 100%.

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