Tuesday, March 03, 2015

New Natural Resources chairman vows to find solutions to longtime disputes

WASHINGTON - For decades, county commissioners and conservationists in Utah have been battling over land in the eastern part of the state, squaring off over potential protections, oil drilling and potash mining in the territory. It's almost been a "100 years war," observed Mike Matz, director of public lands for Pew Charitable Trusts. Enter Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, a seven-term lawmaker who nearly three years ago set out to bring the warring interests together and hammer out a massive land management deal. Through hundreds of meetings with thousands of stakeholders, Bishop has steered the group closer to a plan for divvying up millions of acres - with some land poised to garner new wilderness protections and other tracts set to be earmarked for energy development. Bishop has urged county commissioners to view potential wilderness designations as a kind of "currency" with value that can be traded for "some specific, tangible benefit," such as special zones for oil drilling and rights of way for roads. Depending on who you ask, it's either a cynical approach to conservation or a pragmatic strategy for dealing with a complex, controversial issue. It's one indication of how Bishop may approach his new congressional role as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Bishop sees the chairmanship as a chance to shake up the way the United States manages federal and Indian lands, from protecting treasured areas to permitting drilling in others. "We haven't had a change in the way people look at the stewardship of the federal government and land in 50 or 60 years," Bishop said. "We are timed for a paradigm shift, and I want to be part of that." For Bishop, who convenes his first panel hearing Thursday with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, that means giving local, state and tribal governments greater control of federal lands. It also means undoing legal constraints, including litigation under the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act...more

Relations fraying, GOP to grill Jewell on $13.2B budget

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell heads back to Capitol Hill this week for two more rounds of GOP grilling on her agency's $13.2 billion fiscal 2016 funding request. There will be new Republican faces but similar attacks on the Obama administration's proposed spending hikes and its energy and natural resources policy. Jewell will appear Wednesday before the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which is led by one of her top critics, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). On Thursday, she will testify before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is led by new Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah). Neither forum will be particularly inviting. Jewell's $13.2 billion requested budget -- an 8 percent hike above current funding levels -- also contains a wish list of longtime administration proposals to increase inspection fees on oil and gas drillers, encourage more diligent development, reform federal royalties, and hike grazing fees. Those proposals stand little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, considering that they also failed to pass when the Senate was in Democratic hands. Jewell's budget also leans heavily into conservation and recreation. It offers $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), three times the current funding level, and would provide $3 billion for the National Park Service, a $433 million increase over current levels and enough to hire 471 additional full-time employees as the agency approaches its 2016 centennial...more

National monuments in California: Lawmakers, advocates really want designations

California lawmakers and advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to win national monument designation for four scenic vistas in the state, from vast stretches of the Mojave Desert to redwood stands along the Pacific Coast Highway to canyons and mountains near the state’s famous wine country. The designation typically takes lands already owned by the government and walls them off from new mining, roads and power lines. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding are commonly allowed, though each national monument has its own dos and don’ts. Supporters of the proposed monuments in California are pursuing two paths. The first is through legislation. Many Republicans are wary, though. So, supporters are also placing greater emphasis on Plan B: Executive action from President Barack Obama. The narrowing window for that option is adding urgency to their efforts...more

How ESA advertising requirement snagged fish delisting

Farmers and ranchers campaigned for years to persuade the Fish and Wildlife Service to drop endangered species protection for a tiny fish found in the streams of northeastern California and southern Oregon. In 2014, they almost succeeded. The service was set to delist the Modoc sucker last February but neglected to publish a newspaper notice mandated by the Endangered Species Act. That meant another year of federal protection for the 6-inch fish -- which has been on the endangered species list since 1985 -- and another year of frustration for agribusiness interests in the Pacific Northwest. Critics of the 1973 Endangered Species Act say its newspaper ad requirement is antiquated and a prime example of why Congress should overhaul the Nixon-era law. At the time of the law's enactment, "an appropriate means of public communication certainly could have been publication of a local classified ad, but it is 2015," said Ryan Yates, chairman of the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition, an alliance of industry groups. "This is one more example of how the ESA is an outdated law that needs to be updated and modernized," he added. Last reauthorized by Congress in 1988, the ESA specifically orders federal agencies to publish a summary of regulatory changes "in a newspaper of general circulation in each area of the United States in which the species is believed to occur." Fish and Wildlife belatedly satisfied that obligation for the Modoc sucker last month by running a 4-inch notice on Page D5 of the Sunday, Feb. 15, Klamath Falls Herald and News, just above some real estate listings and next to an ad for "50% OFF Mondays!" at Chrome Wrench Auto Works. The Modoc sucker notice cost $132.81, a tiny fraction of the $159,662 that Fish and Wildlife spent on required newspaper ads in 2014...more

Rally at Capitol blasts Utah’s ‘land-grab casino’

Transferring public lands to Utah is a "disastrous, frivolous policy" that is more likely to bankrupt the state, wreck a robust outdoor economy and industrialize scenic landscapes than solve the state's endless fights over land management, a diverse parade of speakers proclaimed Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. Such a move, codified by a Utah law enacted three years ago, is really a reckless gamble that is diverting resources to "the land-grab casino" and ruining real chances for land-management reform, according to speakers who included educators, environmentalists, sportsmen and makers of outdoor gear. "Governor, we call on you to distance yourself from the few legislators who cooked up this mess. Collaboration is the best way to solve our problems," said Dan McCool, a University of Utah political science professor who acted as MC for the rally. "This effort is unconstitutional, yet the state insists on pressing forward in this fruitless war on our public lands." In the audience was one of Utah's key advocates for land transfer, Rep. Mike Noel of Kanab, who took the mic after the last speaker. Under a hail of boos, he argued access and stewardship would improve under state control. After the sound was cut off, the Republican went nose-to-nose with transfer critics, some holding signs with slogans like "Stop the Klepto Terra Ists."...more

House panel rejects federal lands transfer study bill

A House committee has rejected a proposal to create a commission to study whether federal lands should be transferred to the state. The House Judiciary Committee today tabled House Bill 291 on a bipartisan, 8-4 vote. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, sponsored the legislation, which drew opposition from a range of public lands users and conservation groups. “We should be in control of our own lands … managing them on more of a local level,” Herrell said. She disputed the argument of opponents that transferring land to the state would lead to its being sold to private interests. But critics of the bill said the transfer of federal lands was unworkable and unconstitutional. Victor Reyes of Conservation Voters New Mexico said it would be “wasting our state agencies’ scarce time and resources” to study land transfers.  AP

McDonald’s sustainable beef pilot moves into high gear

McDonald’s has put its foot on the gas, and is revving up its verified sustainable beef pilot. The largest buyer of Canadian beef has developed a set of 40 ‘indicators’ to assess sustainability; created a scoring system to grade ranches, feedlots and others in the beef value chain; and chosen an American verification company to oversee the process. But producers shouldn’t be worried by these moves, McDonald’s sustainability manager for Canada said at the recent Alberta Beef Industry Conference. “This is not a certification regime — this is a verification opportunity,” said Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell. “It’s about information sharing, not policing. It’s about producers demonstrating how they meet the criteria. It’s not an audit and it’s not pass/fail.” Since picking Canada for its global sustainable beef pilot last year, the fast-food giant has given few details on how that will work — even though it has promised to start using sustainable beef in 2016. But in consultation with an advisory board from across the Canadian beef sector, the company has developed ways — dubbed ‘indicators’ — to score practices on animal care, environmental stewardship, and food safety. Not every indicator is applicable to all segments of the value chain, but each one comes with a scoring system ranging from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Each aligns with principles set out by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef...more

DHS Installs Seven Camera Towers on Border in Fourth Virtual Fence Attempt

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is installing seven towers equipped with sophisticated cameras in southern Arizona as part of its Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) program. These towers are going up in Santa Cruz County, specifically near the cities of Nogales and Rio Rico, as part of a test run. But this is the fourth attempt by DHS to set up such a system, and the last one got cancelled after five years and one billion dollars spent. Customs and Border Protection Operations Officer John Lawson told KVOA News in Tucson, “Previously officers had to use cameras to pan around to look for things, but with this new radar system, it will tell them right away where there is action.” Some towers are currently being tested, while others towers are in various stages of construction. All are expected to be operational by August. That timeline is dubious, based on DHS’ history. The IFT contract award was pushed back by several months many times, and what was known as the virtual border fence project under the Secure Border Initiative was pushed back by several years, only to ultimately be scrapped. The virtual border fence was preceded by two other projects that attempted to interconnect underground sensors and above ground cameras and radar with very little success. Many local ranchers and residents in southern Arizona are happy to see the towers go up because there is so much illegal immigrant and drug smuggler traffic near—and sometimes on—their property...more

Air Show Pilot Spencer Suderman Will Attempt to Set New Guinness World Record®

Air show pilot Spencer Suderman, the current GUINNESS WORLD RECORD holder for "Most Inverted Flat Spins in an aircraft" will attempt to break his own record of 81 rotations set in 2014 with an even more impressive spin of over 100 rotations.  The current record can be viewed here:   http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-inverted-flat-spins-in-an-aircraft/

The attempt will occur on April 12th, 2015 at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Arizona.  This flight will occur over the USMC Barry M. Goldwater Range, West Segment where the restricted airspace has been reserved to an altitude of 50,000 feet for this world record breaking effort.

The aircraft to be used for this attempt is an experimental variant of the legendary Pitts Special aerobatic biplane.  The plane, designated the Sunbird S-1x, was originally built and flown by noted aerobatic competitor and air show pilot Dick Green and is the only one of its kind featuring an oversized engine and propeller...more

Dick Green, now deceased, was my brother-in-law and it was through his kindness and generosity that I was able to purchase my handicapped van sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Former Ag Secretaries Urge Congress to Pass Trade Promotion Authority

A bipartisan group of former U.S. Agriculture Secretaries, representing all past Administrations from those of President Jimmy Carter to President George W. Bush, issued the following open letter urging Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority. The former secretaries note that boosting trade and exports is highly beneficial to America's agriculture economy and that Trade Promotion Authority--which has been given to all previous presidents since Gerald Ford (with similar authority granted to all presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt)--is critical for successfully negotiating new trade partnerships that boost exports and create jobs. Congress could begin consideration of legislation to grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority as early as next week. The letter from the former secretaries follows...more

Government says America's beef cow inventory up 2 percent from 2014

U.S. beef cow inventory increased 2 percent from a year ago, signaling expansion among herds across the nation, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service cattle report. "I thought the report showed more beef cows added than I expected," said David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist in College Station. "But record prices in the last half of 2014 will do that." Anderson said prior to the report, industry experts had the mindset the current rebuilding phase will be longer and slower. "It might have to be re-thought," he said. Seven percent more beef cows were reported in Texas on Jan. 1 compared to the same time last year. When the final numbers come in, Anderson said it potentially could be the largest year-to-year percentage increase in Texas beef cows since 1972-1973, when the cowherd grew 14 percent...more

A 'run through the mustard'

RUN THROUGH THE MUSTARD. In late spring, wild mustard grew on thick stalks, the tallest up to six feet. And the mustard grew in such abundance throughout Southern California that, even when the yellow bloom was gone, the dry stalks could conceal cattle. Ranchers would arrange a “run through the mustard” – a two or three day search to track down strays. C. H. Brinley, manager of Rancho Los Alamitos, wrote of inviting other rancheros to participate: “The Temples,, Manuel Dominguez, and the Coyotes will be there sure, and most likely a sufficient number of people will be brought together to effect some good.”  San Diego Reader

Victoria blacksmith's handiwork gets some TLC

Victorians heard the ring of Joe Bianchi's anvil on South William Street for almost six decades. In the 58 years he was in business, Bianchi dominated the spur business in the coastal cow country of South Texas. The shank on his spurs, often called the bottle opener or Victoria style, was his distinguishable mark. Passers-by are hearing a new sound on his old block. Instead of the ping of metal on metal, it's hammers and carpenters working on a major restoration project to bring the 109-year-old home back to life. David and Tammy Murphy, the current property owners, received a historic preservation grant through Victoria Preservation Inc. and the Victoria City Council to save the hand-forged iron fence Bianchi built around his home at 405 S. William St. Since the restoration began, the Murphys have taken a keen interest in researching the original owner and paying their respects to the contributions they made to Victoria. They've uncovered "treasures," spurs and bits, saving them in pill bottles for safe keeping. Bianchi added a brass tag in the fence's concrete post, dated July 4, 1935. His brand, +A, lives on at the curb on the southeast corner of the lot. "The history of this house holds the history of Victoria," David Murphy said. While Bianchi built the fence and others like it, he was most well-known for his hand-forged tools for Texas cowboys. He went by Joe, but his birth name was Giuseppe. He was born as the fifth of eight children in 1871 in the northern Italian city of Origgio, according to family history books. In 1885, when he was 14, he joined his family aboard a ship headed for Victoria. He later moved to Oklahoma to try to make a name for himself, but eventually came back to Texas. In 1901, he and his older brother Paul opened Bianchi Brothers Blacksmith Shop in Victoria. They manufactured hand-forged spurs and bridal bits, plain and silver mounted. The Bianchi brothers' blacksmithing firm was one of the most established and successful in town, according to Victoria Advocate archives. Bianchi purchased the lot at the corner of South William and Convent streets June 9, 1904, to build his home. He was single at the time, but less than a year later married. By 1907, he and Paul dissolved the business and he opened his own shop next door to the house on South William Street. He advertised "horse-shoeing on short notice" and was known for his craftsmanship and high quality work, according to family history books. People could tell the owner of a ranch from one of his cowboys by looking at the spurs. All the prominent ranchers in the area wore Bianchi spurs...more

Song Of The Day #001

We'll feature some videos made by other folks from time to time.  Its Swingin' Monday so here's Kristyn Harris with Yodel Western Swing, from her CD Let Me Ride.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The magic in the makeup drawer

by Julie Carter

You have heard it all many times before. Beauty is only skin deep. Take care of the inner self and the outer self will take care of itself.

Women tend to look at themselves in parts as opposed to the whole package created by God. We see our hair as not long enough, not thick enough, not curly enough, or not straight enough.

We see our eyes as not big enough, not wide-set enough and never the right color. Our lashes are never long enough and as we age, they appear even shorter as gravity forces the eyebrow area to a lower elevation.

And then there are the rest of our parts. Never the skin we would like to have, never the height, weight or shape that pleases ourselves.

The magic drawer

At my house, beauty is in the mysterious “magic drawer” -- a name my makeup magician sister-in-law gave to her stored concoctions of beauty. She would disappear to her boudoir, open this big dresser-drawer full of magic makeup and momentarily re-appear looking like something off the cover of Vogue.

I thought having a drawer like that was a very good idea, but over time I discovered my magic drawer contained more of a Parks and Wildlife look than the Vogue variety. The contents of such a drawer are very proportional to the lifestyle it enhances.

The cover girl look has always eluded me and in fact, I’ve noticed a transition in the drawer inventory that tells a story about then and now.

Hot pink anything is gone

Hot pink blush has been replaced by under-eye concealers. Hot pink pearlized lipstick is now medicated lip balm. The hot pink nail polish is gone and clear Hard as Nails is in its place. The bright blue eye shadow to make your eyes sparkle is now a soft beige version to conceal the puffiness.

Over-the-counter pills for weight control and ever-lasting energy are long gone and in their place is an industrial sized bottle of Tylenol PM. Birth control pills are replaced by hormonal therapy pills and the tropical coconut-pineapple-banana suntan oil has morphed into a jar of mega-moisturizer with a 10,000 SPF factor.

Sunglasses with crazy-colored frames to match every outfit have been replaced by a plethora of reading glasses conveniently placed everywhere.

Looking cute and coiffed at the ranch while you work like a hired hand is a futile effort at best. Usually no one is more surprised how good you clean up than the boss himself.

New hair-do?

I was having lunch with one of those ranch-wife hired hands and her husband joined us at the restaurant. His first inquiry to his wife was, “Did you just get your hair done?”

“No,” she explained. “You just haven’t seen me with it fixed in so long you forgot what it looked like.”

Of course he doesn’t have much hair so the concept of keeping it presentable in all weather, wearing all kinds of winter gear and hats, has never been an issue for him.

The upside to the lifetime transformation of the magic drawer is about the woman herself.

At this point in life she knows who her real friends are and having them doesn’t require a certain “look.”  She knows that being appreciated is far more valuable than being a cover girl.

Dignity and self-assuredness are the absolute best elements of beauty. You won’t find them in a drawer, magic or otherwise.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

McFarland - Trabajo y Memorias

Almond bloom and sulfur dust
Trabajo y Memorias
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            A week ago yesterday almond bloom peaked in Kern County, California.
            I remember the first time I experienced it. There were still a few Kern Royals in old orchards and that red against the white blossoms captured attention as much as the essence in the air. It was the latter that just consumed you. The drone of bees deadened other sounds and the sweetness of the smell was almost overpowering.
            Within days, the first applications of sulfur would follow to commence the mildew programs for the sea of grapes that stretched north and east for miles. The smell of sweet almond bloom would then be corrupted by the biting edge of sulfur.
As the freshness of California spring played out, the heavy, dirty air of the blistering harvest season would start to build. It was then the dreary expectation of marathon 100ยบ days would sink into your soul. The yellowish air would steal away any glimpse of the Sierras, and … summer would descend.
            On the same day of peak almond bloom, we sat in a darkened theater and watched the new movie, McFarland. I was surprised by the emotion it prompted.
            The story is good. It follows the career of Coach White and his nationally recognized cross country program at McFarland High School located in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. His first year was 1987.
            We preceded him to the McFarland area in 1981.
That was the year I finished graduate school at NMSU and California became home. Similarly to the suggestion by the young English teacher who spoke to Coach White on his first day of class, our home became Bakersfield. The cultural impact and the feeling of loneliness and despair demonstrated by the character were no different from our arrival responses. There was little comparison to our roots in New Mexico. It was intimidating.
That first job in California was with Superior Farming Company. The company farmed just over 41,000 acres of ground in Kern, Fresno, Madera, and Imperial counties. Over half that acreage was trees and vines and the field headquarters was just south from McFarland on Kimberlina Avenue.
McFarland became a landmark and hub that impacted our entire California career.
The references uttered here and there within the script were lost among the majority of watchers, but they were not missed when I heard them. Kite Avenue and Elmo Highway are real as are Whisler and Sherwood avenues. Kite Avenue was not just a route to run in the difficult practices, it was the home of Hollis Roberts and the center of an empire that began in Dust Bowl poverty in Texas and wound up with more than 165,000 acres of farmed land in California. I came to know Hollis well, and the immensity of his human experience was no different than that of the kids and the coach the story portrayed.
In fact, the parallel of McFarland on many people is striking. If you were engaged in the business of farming in McFarland at that time, chances were you faced the same challenges of escaping poverty or lower middle class that the story reserved for farm workers.
In the end, a half dozen New Mexico kids migrated there simply trying to find a place to gain a toehold and exist. We had nothing but a shared will and driving ethic. We were terrified of failure. If our circumstances could be caricatured by military vernacular, we had long outrun our supply lines and were operating totally on our own.
As for the farm workers, though, they were very much part of our lives.
My negative memories come from the violence advocated by Caesar Chavez. Delores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers. McFarland was the center of that universe. I will remember the firearms in the vineyard on Ashe’s Alley, and confrontation years later when our company inherited a major fruit operation and its ongoing labor union dispute. Without question, I was despised by the position I held and the color of my skin.
Positive memories come from the interaction with the crews and individuals. From those ranks came men and women who are brothers and sisters for life. Xavier Salinas, Genaro Monzon, and Narciso Arzate became not just capable supervisors they became trusted comrades and good businessmen. They demonstrated what the American dream means.
Women were no different. The crew leaders and individuals, ladies who endured, were, in 1981, young and ambitious just like me. I remember how I was taken by the bright colors of protective scarves and covering that the table grape crews wore to protect themselves from the sun and heat. When I last walked among them calling old friends by name, we were no longer so young. Those of us who had been together for those 20 years understood what that meant.
When we started our own company, Met West Agribusiness, McFarland continued to be important. We were managing an almond orchard on Whisler Avenue, but when we took over the management of 4200 acres of vineyard on Sherwood, we were on our way.
New Mexican, Mike Dallas, became manager of that division. Through Mike’s efforts, the company’s impact on McFarland became more profound. He would serve as president of the local school board. He would become the chairman of the local irrigation district. He founded a Christian ministry in the prison that was a feature in the movie, and he was a deacon in his church. He made that division the most consistently profitable in the entire company. He also suffered the accident that resulted in his death …all of which took place in the town of McFarland.
The spirit
I watched the movie trying to recognize land marks and points of correctness for 1987. I’ll suggest period and authenticity shortfalls for matters like tarped and ground stored almonds, poled tomatoes, the prison, and covered grapes in that era, but the immensity of the industry is correct. It was and remains monstrous. I reveled at glimpses of the citrus belt, the Friant Kern Canal, and vineyards (that were more likely Delano than McFarland), but what a homecoming the experience sparked.
We saw the movie with our youngest daughter, Lindsay, and her family. Like her mother and I, the movie became a personal reflection. She and her older sister, Stephanie, were both California State FFA officers and their respective years of service each took them the length and breadth of California.
Lindsay talked about her chapter visit to a McFarland FFA banquet. She walked through the front door of the high school exactly as it appeared in the movie. It was her favorite visit and it became a topic of continuing discussion that evening. It was suggested a similar story line could be developed with the McFarland advisor, Mr. Elliot, and his program. The same tough little town and kids fighting for a chance were exact parallels to Coach White and his cross country teams. Like Coach White, Mr. Elliot chose to make McFarland home. His FFA program showed the results.
Lindsay remembered how motivated the members were. She invited them to the upcoming state convention. They took her up and descended around her prior to her retirement address. She doesn’t remember last names or skin color. She remembers kids of the San Joaquin learning, creating, and growing in confidence and expression.
It was so familiar.
The hot, clammy yellow haze of late summer was captured brilliantly in the filming. The almond orchards they ran through displayed stress induced from water being cut off for harvest. The citrus scenes were right at the 500’ frost line elevations, but the glimpse that created the most emotion was a glimpse of the Friant-Kern canal.
It was right there one morning John Oglesby and I found a dog in the canal. The situation was critical. The pads of his front feet were bleeding where he had been trying desperately to climb the steep concrete walls.
“What are we going to do,” John asked.
“We are going to get him out,” was the response.
In John’s pickup, I found a short piece of hemp rope. It wasn’t long enough so I tied a chain to it.  I then tied a honda and shook a loop out. On the first shot, I roped that dog. The dog was big probably weighing over one hundred pounds. John joined with me pulling him up the embankment. When we got him to the top, he never stopped. He climbed right up and looked me in the eye. I fell back into John sending us all to the ground. There I laid under that soaking wet dog as he licked my face in serious appreciation.
“Can all you New Mexico boys rope like that?” John asked from underneath me.
I never said yes, but … I never said no, either.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “McFarland … go see it.”

A budget that grows government and cultivates dependency

By Rick Manning

You can tell a lot about someone’s priorities by sneaking a peak at their budget. From churches and charities to Fortune 500 companies and individual households, financial statements show true colors, not just lip service.

President Obama’s recently-released budget is no different and it showed the world what we already knew — he’s a tax-and-spend liberal with out-of-whack priorities.

Take its effect on America’s family farmers and ranchers, for example.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described his boss’ plan this way: “The budget proposal achieves reforms and results for the American taxpayer… and creates a pathway towards continued growth and prosperity in rural America.”

But that’s just the press release version. The numbers behind the budget show only a desire to grow government and cultivate dependency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would expand discretionary spending by $1 billion in 2016 under the plan. Meanwhile, it would continue the increase of overall USDA spending — up $40 billion since 2009, when the president began his term.

Not exactly a nod to taxpayers or fiscal discipline.

Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would also get a big raise under the budget to help them tighten their regulatory hold. Spending there would increase $450 million, or about 5 percent.
That is hardly a pathway to rural prosperity given the regulatory burden already weighing down farmers and ranchers. Not to mention the daily efforts by the government to overreach at the altar of climate change.

And how does the Administration expect to pay for its Big Government budget increases? Through new taxes and by gutting an efficient policy run by the private sector, of course.

First, farms would shoulder a brand-new death tax under the White House plan.

When land is passed to the next generation, heirs would face a new and immediate capital gains tax — even before they sell the land — in addition to the estate taxes already on the books.

Administration spin-doctors, who have made an art of class warfare, described it as “closing a loophole on the rich,” but the real-world implications would reverberate through rural communities from coast to coast.

Farmers, who tend to be land rich and cash poor, would be left with no recourse other than to liquidate the inheritance just to pay the taxman. Keeping the family farm in the family wouldn’t be an option.
And those lucky enough to succeed in the face of growing environmental regulations and new taxes would be left with fewer tools to fight Mother Nature under Obama’s plan. Because the one area of the farm budget he actually cuts is crop insurance.

For years, Congress has been transitioning to an insurance system that is run by the private sector and partially-funded by farmers. They did this in order to end old-style government subsidies and annual disaster bailouts.

Crop insurance still costs taxpayers money because the government helps offset premiums, but for the first time in the history of ag policy, most farmers get an insurance bill every year instead of a government check.

And thanks to private-sector efficiency and the fact that growers collectively pay $4 billion a year in premiums, overall farm policy spending has declined in recent years.

Now the president wants to undo these positive steps in the name of more government and, ultimately, more taxpayer risk.

White House messaging might say otherwise, but the numbers reveal a plan that weakens the private sector in favor of a more government-centric bureaucracy that raises taxes in pursuit of an extreme environmenal agenda.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

Reprinted with the permission of the ALG.

Editorial - A Dictator's Dynamic In Obama's Bullet Ban

The president has ordered the reclassification of AR-15 bullets as a threat to lawmen, effectively banning them. It's nonsense. But we see what's going on: a backdoor bid to ban guns and scrap the Second Amendment.

It shouldn't be forgotten that the one time President Obama publicly showed a lot of anger came when the assault-weapon ban he proposed in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre failed to pass in Congress.

In that effort, his minions had falsely claimed that the gunman had used an AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, which was never the case. But that didn't matter, because the real plan was to make the popular hunting rifle the emblem of evil in his attempted gun grab.

Visibly enraged, he vowed to get his way by other means. "This effort is not over," he said at the time.
And that's what brings us here — to the sudden "reclassification" of the 5.56mm NATO round as "armor piercing" ammunition and therefore a threat to law enforcement, and subject to a ban.

First of all, the claim is false. Hunting rifles, including the AR-15, are rarely used in urban street crimes against lawmen, and Obama's people have no examples to speak of. But these rifles are popular among hunters and rural populations who have a significant need for self-defense in wilderness areas with more bears, coyotes and pumas than cops.

But it's not just a false premise that makes this bullet grab so objectionable.

Obama's move pretty well lifts a page from the oldest trick in the dictator's handbook — to limit rights by limiting material access. Instead of banning the free press, dictators everywhere limit access to newsprint. Instead of banning coal-fired plants, as candidate Obama said, just bankrupt coal companies.

Oregon's signature solar energy project built on foundation of false hopes and falsehoods

Dignitaries gathered on a dry Klamath Falls hillside in August 2011 to celebrate the launch of the largest solar power project ever attempted in Oregon. As then-Gov. John Kitzhaber and others dug their golden shovels into the hard ground, they were adamant that this was not another state-sponsored green energy boondoggle. This $27 million collection of solar arrays would be a boon for the economy as well as the environment. For nearly $12 million in tax credits, state officials said, taxpayers could expect the project developer to buy local and hire local, creating a virtuous circle of energy savings, reduced greenhouse gases and jobs. 
"An economy of innovation is within our reach," Kitzhaber said, rewarding "efficiency rather than excess." Kitzhaber got the efficiency part right. The solar arrays fired up a year ago, generating even more power than expected at Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University. But those solar arrays rest on a foundation of falsehoods and false hopes, an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found. Interviews and an examination of thousands of pages of documents show that state officials wrongly awarded millions in state tax credits, turning a blind eye to phony documents. The project also was dogged by an international trade war, a bitter corporate rivalry and a stunning twist that traded high-paid Oregon jobs for prison labor at 93 cents an hour...more

Experts say ranching done right improves the environment and wildlife habitat

By Temple Grandin 

The Society for Range Management (SRM) and ranchers and range professionals who participate in SRM are doing wonderful things with grazing to improve rangeland and plant biodiversity. The problem is that the public does not know anything about it.

After spending two days at this informative meeting in Sacramento, Calif., I read a very negative article on cattle wrecking rangeland in a recent issue of Harper’s magazine. These types of articles lead the public to believe that cattle should be removed from public lands.

Yet, the SRM meeting featured many sessions that showed how well managed grazing can provide habitat for wildlife. The water sources that ranchers provide for their cattle also provide water for endangered species such as the California Condor. Both our industry and SRM need to better communicate with the public on environmental stewardship.

Several speakers explained that humans have influenced the ecology of the rangeland for centuries. Chuck Striplen, University of California-Berkeley (UCB) associate environmental scientist and a member of the Amiah Mutson Tribal Board, explained how the historical use of rangeland needs to be studied. He says that western rangelands have never been a pristine wilderness untouched by humans. He says we have forgotten the original effects of Native Americans on the land and ecology. Learning about the long-term historical effects of humans on rangeland can aid in the development of best management practices.

Lynn Huntsinger, a California rancher and UCB professor of environmental science, explains that maintenance of ranches will prevent loss of valuable ecosystems. When ranches are maintained, the land will not be sold for development. In her talk, she explained how stock ponds have served as habitat for endangered Tiger Salamanders...

Temple Grandin is an animal behaviorist and a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Science.

BEEF, the nation’s leading cattle publication, annually publishes 12 monthly issues for America’s top cow-calf operators, stocker-growers, cattle feeders, veterinarians, nutritionists and allied industries, covering production, animal health, nutrition, finance and marketing issues.

Grazing cows return to Arana Gulch to help endangered tarplant

The cows came home to Arana Gulch to help restore a troubled native wildflower. Cattle grazed the coastal prairie greenbelt for more than a century, when 100,000 Santa Cruz tarplants with their tiny yellow flowers pinpointed the meadows. The property was part of the Eastside Dairy farm through the mid-1950s and grazing continued until 1989. “In the years after the cows left, those numbers plummeted to just a handful,” said ecologist and tarplant expert Grey Hayes, who is part of the Arana Gulch restoration team. A relative to the sunflower, the pretty tarplant is listed as endangered by the state and threatened on the federal level. Its main threat is towering invasive non-native plants that block sunlight from reaching the short herb. Agriculture and development have consumed most of its historical range, which stretches from Marin County to Monterey County. Just pockets of the plant remain. “Cattle grazing is really the only sustainable solution to managing the habitat and recovering this endangered wildflower,” Hayes said. “Unlike people, cows can be out there constantly clipping the invasive grasses close to the ground. They allow light to reach the seeds and the seedlings.” Fourth-generation Santa Cruz rancher Tommy Williams manages cows at Arana Gulch, Moore Creek Preserve, UC Santa Cruz and in Scotts Valley. “Most of my operation is revolved around working to preserve these rangelands and the native grasses and flowers and the Ohlone tiger beetle,” he said...more

No irrigation water again this year for Valley farmers

Farmers again will get no federal river water for more than 2 million acres of cropland in the San Joaquin Valley, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday. Though the announcement was no surprise, it sent ripples of anxiety through the farming industry on both the east and west sides of the Valley, which rely on water from the federal Central Valley Project. Don Peracchi, board president of the Westlands Water District’s board, mostly in west Fresno County, said: “The federal government’s Central Valley Project is broken. Some of the most vital elements of the state’s economy are being allowed to wither and die.” The bureau, which operates the massive Central Valley Project, blamed depleted reservoirs, drought and a snowpack that is a fifth of its average size. Officials said they would update the forecast if stormy weather produces more water. “We are bracing for a potential fourth year of severe drought, and this low initial allocation is yet another indicator of the dire situation,” said Reclamation Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo. Bureau leaders are discussing ways of supplying water for health and safety purposes to small city customers, such as Orange Cove and Huron. This season, which unofficially ends April 1, appears to be a fourth year of drought, though this winter has been wetter than last in Northern California. There was also criticism Friday about the amount of water federal officials are pumping through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said pumping restrictions for water quality and environmental concerns have cost the Valley water. “This year, we’ve already lost 318,345 acre-feet of water,” he said. “And that number will only continue to rise.” Bureau officials later said they are working daily with wildlife and other agencies to make sure delta pumping is providing as much water as possible without compromising the water quality or the ecosystem. Last year, without river water from the federal project, farmers were forced to pump the groundwater to keep orchards and other permanent crops alive. The pumping left many rural residents with dry wells as the groundwater levels dropped, especially on the east side of the Valley...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1386

From his just released CD Ralph Stanley & Friends here is Ralph along with Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale performing I Am The Man, Thomas