Friday, April 08, 2011

Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears

The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed. But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel. Driven by new demand, Thai exports of cassava chips have increased nearly fourfold since 2008, and the price of cassava has roughly doubled. Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream. But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability. This year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that its index of food prices was the highest in its more than 20 years of existence. Prices rose 15 percent from October to January alone, potentially “throwing an additional 44 million people in low- and middle-income countries into poverty,” the World Bank said...more

Federal intervention on behalf of biofuels not only distorts the energy market, it throws people into poverty, resulting in hunger and hardship. The know-it-alls in DC should be held accountable.

Obama's Do-Nothing Oil Policy Hurts

The president said he was not "out of touch" as the media accused President George H.W. Bush of being when he demonstrated unfamiliarity with supermarket scanners. No, the president is plugged into reality as he test-drives overpriced electric cars no one wants and tours foreign-owned wind turbine plants. Speaking at such a plant in Fairless Hills, Pa., owned by the Spanish firm Gamesa, Obama said there was "not much we can do next week or two weeks from now" about gas prices. He didn't address his two-year war on domestic energy including a seven-year moratorium on oil drilling off both coasts, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska. He could lift that ban today, sending a powerful supply-and-demand signal to the market. He could unlock areas in the West where oil shale reserves are estimated to be triple the crude Saudi Arabia has underground. He could support the Keystone pipeline project to deliver oil from Canada's tar sands to the U.S. market. That project would build a 1,661-mile pipeline from Alberta to refineries near Houston, create 13,000 "shovel-ready" jobs and provide 500,000 more barrels of oil per day. But the president who wants to reduce oil imports by a third wants to increase them from Brazil. Instead, the president says oil companies aren't using the leases they have. But an oil lease is only a license to explore, not a guarantee of finding oil. If there were oil in these areas that could be profitably extracted, oil companies would do so. They're not the ones who are driving up prices by restricting supply. It's an Obama administration that includes a secretary of energy, Steven Chu, who has said "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." He was talking about $8 a gallon or higher...more

Another case where the Wise Ones are sticking it to the groups they supposedly represent - the lower income class. They have deliberately set out to raise oil prices to make renewables more attractive and to force conservation on the public. The green agenda trumps the less fortunate among us.

Interior chief warns of broad shutdown impact

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday that a government shutdown would have significant effects on the public and businesses in the department's orbit. Salazar, in a memo to Interior employees Thursday, described the consequences of the partial shutdown that will occur if there’s no spending deal struck before the current stopgap measure expires Friday. He writes: “For the American people, a shutdown of the Department of the Interior’s services would disrupt everything from family vacations and small businesses that rely on tourism to renewable energy projects. Visitors to America’s national parks, wildlife refuges, and BLM public lands will be turned away. Most U.S. Geological Survey scientific work, data collection and analysis will be halted. And many economic and social programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs will temporarily cease.” A shutdown, which Salazar expressed hope will be avoided, would also harm tens of thousands of department employees, he said...more

Editorial: Ranchers need tools to protect their livelihood

The stories cattlemen are sharing in Salem go to the heart of the wolf controversy in Oregon. “The wolves, when they came at me that night, were after me and a dog,” Joseph rancher Karl Patton said, “They weren’t coming to shake hands.” His testimony was before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. On the table are bills regarding wolf regulation in Oregon. HB 3560 allows the Oregon Department of Agriculture to set up a compensation fund for wolf depredation. The fund would be open to federal, state, county and private donations and administered by counties. HB 3561 allows the gray wolf to be delisted from the Oregon Endangered Species Act upon establishment of four breeding pairs. HB 3562 clarifies actions a person can take against a wolf to protect themselves or someone else. HB 3563 allows a rancher to kill a wolf, once it is federally delisted, if it is within 500 feet of a residence or caught chasing, harassing, wounding or biting livestock or pets. The bill to set up a fund to compensate ranches for wolf kills should be passed. This kind of fund exists in Montana and has helped ranchers deal with losses as the wolf population expanded both from natural migration and federal programs designed to re-establish the wolf in its native habitat. Clarifying actions a person can take with a wolf to protect themselves or someone else also makes good sense. Wolves are predators and can pose a danger. It should be clear that people have a right to protect themselves...more

To Graze or Not To Graze?

The Rio Arriba County Commission voted to declare a state of emergency on behalf of local ranchers after the federal Forest Service threatened to delay the start of cattle grazing season on public lands. Several stockmen spoke to the Commission at a meeting March 31 and said due to persistent, drought-like conditions in the region, district rangers in the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests were going to push back the date ranchers are permitted to release their cattle onto public grazing lands. Dennis Gallegos, whose cattle graze on the Polvadera allotment in the Santa Fe National Forest, stood before the Commission the day before his permitted release date and said he was willing to force a confrontation with the Service, though he had been told not to release his cows yet. Then he called upon the commissioners to support him. “I’m willing to turn the cattle out tomorrow if the County’s willing to challenge (the Service’s) authority,” Gallegos said. “I’m willing to start the brawl.“ Carlos Salazar, president of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association, also spoke at the meeting and said he hoped the Commission and the sheriff would support Gallegos if he defied the Service...more

Death of the Slaughterhouse?

One might expect the Bay Area — as the epicenter of the eat-local movement and a region with a long tradition of cattle ranching — to be a mecca for producers of organic and grass-fed beef. But there is a problem: a shortage of slaughterhouses is so acute that it is stunting the growth of this emerging industry. Only one slaughterhouse remains in the Bay Area, in Petaluma, and there are just a smattering of them in all of Northern California. Ranchers must often truck their grass-fed cattle hundreds of miles to the nearest plant, and they face backlogs in the busy season that can lead to waits lasting many months. This means fewer — and more expensive — local skirt steaks at the butcher shop, and more carbon with that grass-fed burger. The slaughterhouse shortage, and associated difficulties in creating an efficient supply chain, has already kept aspiring local-beef entrepreneurs out of the business, University of California researchers say. And when the local supply of grass-fed meat gets low, out-of-region producers pick up the slack. Meanwhile, established local purveyors fret about what could happen if the Petaluma slaughterhouse, Rancho Veal, closed...more

“The One Arm Bandit” and Barrel Man Crash Cooper Meet In Clovis

The Clovis Rodeo welcomes back, John Payne, the notorious One Arm Bandit to entertain rodeo fans. Often known for proclaiming his guilt for “stealing the show,” Payne is sure to have the help of his incredibly trained horses and buffalo to make that happen. A former rancher, saloon owner, gambler, wild cattle expeditions director he finally turned into a rodeo entertainer in 1988. One never knows what he might pull off but we do know he will certainly entertain rodeo fans.
This fourth of five brothers grew up on a ranch in Shidler, Oklahoma and learned early on do anything he could to get out of the way, or “he’d get run over.” Entertainer and Barrelman Crash Cooper Legend says when Crash Cooper steps into the arena, rodeo fans should be prepared for anything. Known for his athleticism and for involving rodeo cowboys in his crowd-pleasing stunts he has become a favorite amongst rodeo fans of all ages. A four time winner of Canada’s Entertainer of the Year, he is also the act of choice for many a rodeo in the United States. The barrelman hails from Seniac, Saskatchewan and majored in fine arts at Red Deer College in Alberta, Canada. The self-taught western artist finds inspiration for his drawings, graphite, pen or watercolor pieces and tongue-in-cheek cartoons in his ranching

Modern Cowboys Maintain Traditional Western Culture Through Rodeo Sports

Armed with a straw hat, spurred leather boots and a single glove, a 145-pound man mounts his opponent: an erratic beast weighing at least 1,700 pounds. This sport is bull riding, and a single ride never lasts more than the predetermined time limit of 8 seconds. “Most people black out their first few rides,” said Lane Dixon, a bull rider from New Mexico. “It starts fast. Usually the first second has two large jumps [from the bull] that you, the rider, react to.” For professional riders like Dixon, it’s difficult to explain a typical ride because of the speed and intensity. “When you get ‘tapped off’ [a term riders use to describe being in sync with the bull and in control of the ride] everything slows down. You are able to anticipate the bull’s movements and move yourself into a position to take the force and stay on until the end,” he said. “It’s thrilling,” adds rodeo aficionado and rancher Connor Myllymaki. “You never know what’s going to happen. It could really be that death-defying act.” Rodeo folklore holds that in 1869 two gangs of rival cowboys met in Deer Trail, Colo. to settle a dispute over who was best at ranching. An audience from across the state watched them go head-to-head at basic farming tasks: calf roping, saddle “bronc” riding and wild horse training. Gradually these competitions developed into what we know today as the rodeo sports – bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping. Events are a salute to traditional ranching culture. “This is how the cowboys worked before the machinery came along,” Myllymaki said...more

Song Of The Day #550

Ranch Radio wraps up its week of cajun-influenced country with the daddy of them all: Jambalaya (On The Bayou) by Hank Williams.

Send us your requests.

“8 Murders a Day” documentary reveals horrors in Juarez

Students in San Diego are generally aware of the violence in Tijuana, but the extent to which this border city experiences violence is paltry in comparison to the tragedy that befalls the city of Juarez every day. New York director Charlie Minn plans to raise awareness of this violent and largely unaddressed issue with his recent documentary, "8 Murders a Day." Premiering at AMC San Diego Palm Promenade 24 tomorrow, his film plans to give a voice to the unheard Mexican people. "This movie sticks up for the innocent Mexican people of Juarez and gives them a voice," Minn said. "Their voice has been rudely ignored by both the United States and Mexican governments." Cartel violence is common in the news, but the extent to which this horror afflicts the people of this border city is not fully understood by the majority of Americans, and Minn believes his documentary will help to "jar people's minds" with the reality of the situation. Minn frequently states that these people are currently suffering a human rights crisis that is proportionate to 9/11. "With over 3,100 murders in Juarez last year," Minn said, "this city is the murder capital of the world." The documentary itself features several experts from the U.S., including author of "Murder City" Charles Bowden and other experts from establishments such as the El Paso Times and University of Texas in El Paso. Minn hopes that the facts present in these experts' testimonies will give the uninformed a more solid understanding of the gravity of Juarez's unrest...more

Mass grave discovered in Mexico, 80 miles from US border

Authorities found the graves on Wednesday in the town of San Fernando while investigating the kidnapping of passengers from a bus on March 25, AFP reported. The death toll is expected to rise since the officials have counted only three of the eight graves so far. According to Tamaulipas prosecutor's office, 11 suspects were detained and five hostages were rescued on the same mission. The development came as earlier reports indicated that the passengers were pulled off several buses by gunmen in the area on March 25. The officials believe they may have been killed after refusing to work for drug traffickers...more

Mexican families look for missing in pit victims

Relatives of people who have gone missing in Mexico's drug war are streaming to the latest epicenter of the bloody conflict, a morgue where 59 bodies are being examined after being pulled from a mass grave south of the U.S. border. Families are looking for loved ones not seen for a couple of weeks, others a few months — some as long as three years. Authorities are still not sure what kind of victims were tossed in eight separate pits found by Mexican security forces this week, but suspect at least some had been abducted from buses by gunmen starting March 25. One man waiting Thursday outside the morgue in this border city — who refused to give his name for fear of reprisals — said his uncle and a cousin left their hometown of Ciudad Valles in the central state of San Luis Potosi on March 25. They were traveling by bus to Rio Bravo in Tamaulipas state but haven't been heard from. He said they were supposed to arrive in Rio Bravo on March 26 for a two-week job watering sorghum fields. "They never made it," he said, adding that he was afraid to say anything else. "Here one is afraid to talk, here we don't talk about what happens, but we are desperate to know what happened to them."...more

Sheriff Testifies about Border Battle in Washington

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security wanted to get an idea of what the immigration situation is like on a local level -- and Sheriff Babeu didn't hold back when senators, including John McCain, asked him about the situation. "This violence is not just coming here. It is here," he said. "People in my county do not feel the border is more secure than ever and we are 70 miles north." The sheriff was also asked about recent comments from the Cochise County Sheriff -- that Border Patrol agents have been instructed to force illegals back to Mexico, rather than apprehend them. The goal of that would be keep apprehension numbers low. Babeu says he asked his top lieutenant about the issue. "He said, 'Sheriff, I have heard that myself directly from border agents in the Tucson sector.'"...more

Mexican cartels corrupting more US border officials?

In El Paso, Texas, a major embarrassment for American law enforcement: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Margarita Crispin is sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling out to Mexican drug traffickers. "It was amazing to us to find out that Margarita Crispin received $5 million for her services to allow loads of marijuana to come through her checkpoint along the border," assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI, told NBC News. In the Mexican drug war, U.S. authorities are finding a disturbing trend: an increase in American law enforcement officials corrupted by wealthy Mexican criminals who pay them to look the other way as illegal drugs and immigrants flow north into the United States. "It is the single most debilitating factor in successful law enforcement on the border, and we do a horrible job of weeding that corruption out,” says retired DEA supervisor Anthony Coulson. In the last five years, nearly 80 U.S. Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers have been arrested along the Mexican border, and according to federal authorities, hundreds more officials are under investigation...more

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel. During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo. The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war...more

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Protesters call for wolf eradication in Oregon

About two dozen Eastern Oregon residents, including several ranchers, converged on the Oregon Capitol April 5 calling for the removal of wolves from Oregon. “You can’t manage wolves,” protester and Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja said. “They need to be removed completely.” “I don’t know how you’re going to manage them,” Enterprise, Ore., rancher and protester Don Tippett said. “You can’t manage a predator without getting rid of them.” “I would just like to be able to defend my life and my property,” Keating, Ore., rancher Kimberlee Jacobs said. Jacobs was in Salem to testify at a legislative hearing later that day on behalf of the Oregon Sheep Growers Association. The Wolf Free Oregon protesters donned yellow shirts purporting “Zero Tolerance for Wolves” and carried signs proclaiming “Protect Our Children. No Wolves in Oregon,” and “Wolves Are at Your Door.” The protesters gathered on the steps of the Capitol and with bullhorns shouted slogans, such as “get the ESA out of the USA” and “the Canadian wolf is an invasive species” and “save Oregon ranchers.” The Wolf Free Oregon policy of removing all wolves from Oregon is in contrast to the official position of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, which is lobbying lawmakers to relax state wolf policy. Under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, ranchers are restricted from using lethal methods to protect livestock from wolf predation, even if catching a wolf in the act of killing livestock...more

"Zero Tolerance For Wolves" - I like that.  Under public schools' Zero Tolerance policies kids are being suspended from school  for having toy guns, real or imagined ammo, etc.  Suspended and sent home and into wolf habitat. Crazy.

"Get the ESA out of the USA" - Even better.  Leave it to the states to regulate and protect wildlife.

Idaho Senate will debate wolf disaster bill

An Idaho Senate panel advanced legislation declaring a wolf disaster state of emergency in Idaho after public testimony detailed frustration, anger and fear of the predators. The Senate Resources and Environment Committee heard from more than 50 Idaho ranchers, hunters and residents on Wednesday before voting 7-2 to pass the measure. The bill, which the Idaho House has already approved, now heads to full Senate for debate. It would allow Gov.``Butch'' Otter to enlist local law enforcement agents to help eliminate wolves in the state...more

Study: Off feedgrounds, wolves eat elk, moose

Wolves ate bull elk and cow moose more than other ungulates in northern Jackson Hole last winter, in contrast to the Gros Ventre drainage, where cow and calf elk were the prey of choice, researchers said.
Researchers used volunteers and a combination of VHF- and GPS-tracking collars to examine two wolf packs last year and three packs this year in Buffalo Valley and northern Grand Teton National Park.
Volunteers collected data on the species type, age and sex of the animals. The crews also looked at the bone marrow of the ungulates wolves killed to determine body condition. The study area is primarily inhabited by the Pacific Creek, Phantom Springs and Huckleberry wolf packs, although some of those packs have been known to range widely in winter. From January to March, field crews from the park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documented 47 wolf-kill carcasses: 26 elk (55.3 percent), 18 moose (38.3 percent) and three deer (6.4 percent). Of the documented elk kills, wolves took down 14 bulls (53.8 percent), seven cows (26.9 percent) and two calves (7.7 percent). Researchers were not able to determine the age and sex of three animals (11.5 percent)...more

Park bison to roam in Montana

Bison from Yellowstone National Park will roam freely across 75,000 acres in southern Montana where for years the animals were shipped to slaughter by the hundreds, under a breakthrough agreement expected to be adopted this week. The deal — involving five state and federal agencies and several American Indian tribes — still limits where bison can go during their winter migrations. Officials say those that move beyond the newly opened habitat and head north into the Paradise Valley will continue to be shot to protect livestock against a disease carried by the wild animals. But supporters say the agreement will bring some relief to the state’s bison management dilemma, which has dragged on for two decades and resulted in the slaughter of 3,800 bison. A copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press shows bison will be free to roam within an area known as the Gardiner Basin when they migrate from the mountainous park during winter to graze. A map attached to the document depicts a “Bison Conservation Area” estimated by a U.S. Forest Service official at 75,000 acres, although some of that land is too steep to support bison...more

Learning to live with wolves

My great-grandfather homesteaded in eastern Oregon back in the days when wolf packs roamed the range. By the time his son -- my grandfather -- claimed a homestead, wolves were gone. Bounty hunters and settlers, perhaps including members of my family, had shot, trapped and poisoned Oregon's gray wolves to extinction. Now, after a 60-year absence, wolves are mounting a historic comeback across our state. In 2009 several wolves, descendents of wolves reintroduced to the Rockies in the mid-1990s, wandered from Idaho into Oregon. Today three packs, comprised of two dozen wolves, live in northeast Oregon. For the first time in decades my relatives must readapt to the reality of ranching with wolves on the range. But what does this look like where the rubber meets the road? What is different about living and ranching in a state with wolves? Can we coexist with another top-of-the-food-chain species? The decisions we make today will determine the answers to these questions. One thing I know is that Oregon ranchers are some of the most determined and resilient folks on earth. Given practical guidelines and the proper tools, Oregon livestock producers can take proactive steps and successfully protect their livestock from wolves. In fact, some ranchers have already started the transition to wolf-compatible livestock practices. Over the past month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been outfitting ranchers with electric flagging to string around livestock pens near wolf packs. This proactive measure, which shocks wolves if they try to enter a livestock pen and teaches them to stay away, has been an effective deterrent to wolves in the Rockies, the Great Lakes and Europe for years. In neighboring Idaho, Lava Lake Lamb has experimented with tools to safeguard flocks in an area prolific with wolves. Lava Lake has adopted wolf-compatible ranching practices, from range riders patrolling the range on horseback to carefully disposing of bones and animal parts, and the operation has nearly eliminated livestock losses to wolves. The company, which has won multiple awards for its business practices, provides an excellent model for livestock producers in Oregon...more

Communications bill introduced for Giffords

A week after he visited Cochise County, Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas introduced a bill to ensure areas along the border without cell phone service will see the problem corrected. Poe, who represents a district in the Houston area, visited ranchers and toured the border in the county at the request of the wounded Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose 8th District in Arizona includes all of the county. Poe is calling the proposal the “Southern Borderlands Public Safety Communications Act.” On the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, he said “I am filing legislation that is the idea of Ms. Giffords,” and noted it is in memory of Cochise County rancher Rob Krentz, who was murdered on his own property in March of last year. “News reports indicate Mr. Krentz was in a cell phone dead zone when he was murdered, and this bill will provide people in remote areas on the dangerous bolder area with cell phone service to call for help,” Poe said. As he talked about Krentz, he pointed to the blowup of an article in Tucson Weekly, a Wick Communications paper with a story about the slain rancher. A copy of the publication had been given to President Barack Obama by Giffords, her spokesman C.J. Karamargin said...more

AgChat Foundation celebrates one year of social media on the farm

Americans may have noticed a new social media trend this past year: more Facebook posts from the farm, more tweets from the tractor and more blogs from the back forty. The timing of this social media “stampede” couldn’t be better, says Jeff Fowle, president of the AgChat Foundation. Celebrating its one-year anniversary today, the AgChat Foundation is a 100-percent volunteer organization formed to empower farmers and ranchers to effectively tell their stories using social media. He says in one 2010 study1 conducted by the Hartman Group, 59 percent of consumers purchasing local said they wanted a “connection to the farmer.” In just 12 months, AgChat Foundation has successfully inspired farmers to add tweets and posts to their daily chores. It even earned a coveted spot on the 2011 SXSW® Interactive Festival program, last month, presenting alongside the country’s brightest in emerging technology. Yet, its greatest achievements, Fowle says, are the hundreds of farmers it has inspired to “agvocate” for agriculture, and the thousands of consumer conversations it has spurred...more

NYC May Police 'Happy Meals'; Steep Fines For Repeat Offenders

San Francisco’s already done it, and now New York may follow suit. New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie thinks the city should consider a ban on “Happy Meals” and similar fast food promotions aimed at kids unless those meals meet certain nutritional standards. Comrie has fought the battle of the bulge himself. “As you know, and I’m an example, nearly one-third of all children in New York City and throughout the United States are either overweight or obese,” Comrie said. Comrie planned to introduce his own bill Wednesday that would essentially rewrite what could currently be considered a “Happy Meal.” The bill would require establishments that offer toys with food make sure the meals are 500 calories or less and have low fat and low sodium totals. Penalties would be steep: between $200 to $2,500 for repeat restaurant offenders who use toys to sell unhealthy meals...more

You know, it all started with smoking. And now look what we've come to.

White House Announces U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

President Obama is committed to pursuing an ambitious trade agenda that will help grow our economy and support good jobs for U.S. workers by opening new markets. To achieve that objective, we seek to provide a level playing field that creates economic opportunities for U.S. workers, companies, farmers, and ranchers, and that ensures our trading partners have acceptable working conditions and respect fundamental labor rights. As part of this broader trade agenda, the Obama Administration has worked closely with the government of Colombia to address serious and immediate labor concerns. The result is an agreed “Action Plan Related to Labor Rights” that will lead to greatly enhanced labor rights in Colombia and clear the way for the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to move forward to Congress. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement will expand U.S. goods exports alone by more than $1.1 billion and give key U.S. goods and services duty free access in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture. It will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion and support thousands of additional U.S. jobs...more

This is managed trade, not free trade.

Wyo rancher featured as national wind power spokesman

America's wind energy industry has launched a promotional campaign featuring the stories of Americans who have welcomed wind energy into their communities, including retired Wyoming rancher Shaun Sims of Evanston. The multifaceted campaign so far has included Capitol Hill subway ads in D.C., online banner ads on leading political and energy websites, Facebook and Google, and short video profiles and photos on the website, which serves a national community of wind advocates. A fifth-generation sheep and cattle rancher, Sims was approached several years ago about studying the power potential of wind on his land. "I saw it as an opportunity to try something new to increase my land's utility, as well as generate new revenue for my community," he said. After he leased his land for the installation of wind turbines, additional money flowed into the local economy, its schools, its building projects and its paychecks. "Because of the project, my ranch was given new, safer road access," added Sims. "And now I enjoy the sight of elk, deer and cattle grazing in the shade of the wind turbines." In addition to Sims, the campaign features a farmer and a wind energy technology student in Iowa and a small businessman in Utah...more

Home on the Fish Range

But imagine a different model. What if, instead of being factory farmed like veal, fish could be let out to pasture like old-school cattle? They’d spread out, range freely, forage and fatten up in the wild. Then, weeks or months later, they could be called back in -- using the aquatic version of a cowbell -- and harvested. "Call and catch," as Boaz Zion, an aquaculture engineer at the Volcani Institute in Israel, puts it. Although sea (or "acoustic") ranching is still very much in its infancy, Zion and his colleagues have conducted several field experiments that suggest it can work, and they’ve built what he calls "an automatic fishing machine" to prove it. "What we want to do," he says, "is turn huge coastal regions into grazing fields of fish." The concept builds on several established, if under-appreciated, facts about fish. For starters, fish can hear. They can distinguish between different audio tones or patterns, even -- in the case of koi carp -- between classical music and blues. Indeed, fish can be trained; they learn and remember. In the 1980s, research in Japan and Norway showed that if free-swimming fish (including salmon and red sea bream) listen to an acoustic signal while eating at a feeder, they soon are conditioned to associate the sound with food. Play back the sound and the animals come looking: call them Pavlov’s fish. However, the research was never developed into a way to condition young fish and ultimately harvest them, Zion says. His own studies, in contrast, have aimed to "close the circle."...more

Nature Report: Historic ranches of deep south Texas

The historic ranches of Deep South Texas are renown worldwide. The King, Kenedy, McAllen Guerra, Yturria and others share a rich history dating back some 250 years to original Spanish land grants that were in place long before Texas became a state. Sprawling across 825,000 acres King Ranch is one of the largest ranches in the world. Its more than 1,300 square miles make it larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. Along with other legendary ranches in Deep South Texas these properties form what is called by some the "Last Great Habitat." South Texas is one of the last regions in the state that has extensive tracts of contiguous wildlife habitat, and this "Great habitat" supports an astonishing diversity of plants and animals." Rich in history and wildlife, this private land is the cornerstone of conservation in the state. The ranch country of southernmost Texas is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the Untied States with an astonishing 1,200 varieties of plants and more than 700 vertebrate species and 521 species of birds and counting. More than 95 percent of the remaining wildlands in Texas are in the hands of private landowners, and these South Texas ranchers who are dedicated stewards of the land hold the key to wildlife conservation in the state...more

Oklahoma sees driest 4 months since Dust Bowl

In most years, the dark clouds over western Oklahoma in the spring would be bringing rain. This year, they're more likely to be smoke from wildfires that have burned thousands of acres in the past month as the state and its farmers struggle with a severe drought.Oklahoma was drier in the four months following Thanksgiving than it has been in any similar period since 1921. That's saying a lot in the state known for the 1930s Dust Bowl, when drought and high winds generated severe dust storms that stripped the land of its topsoil. Neighboring states are in similar shape as the drought stretches from the Louisiana Gulf coast to Colorado, and conditions are getting worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The area in Texas covered by an extreme drought has tripled in the past month to 40 percent, and in Oklahoma it nearly doubled in one week to 16 percent, according to the monitor's March 29 update.An extreme drought is declared when there's major damage to crops or pasture and widespread water shortages or restrictions...more

On my nightstand: "Heart of a Shepherd"

I have an interest in children's literature, so I've been reading a lot of middle-grade and young adult fiction. Latest is "Heart of a Shepherd," By Rosanne Parry (161 pages). In the book, 11-year-old Ignatius (nickname: "Brother") takes over a man's job running his family's Oregon ranch when his father's unit is shipped off to Iraq. But even while he works hard to prove he's up to the task, Brother realizes his heart isn't really in ranching, and he struggles to figure out his true calling. There's a lot I'm enjoying about this book. First of all, with paranormal and mythological storylines such a big trend in kids' books right now, it's just refreshing to read a story that's completely grounded in reality. There also seem to be a lot of kids' books with dark themes -- and bad parents -- so it's nice reading about a family that really loves each other striving to rise to the challenges they face. I interviewed a lot of local cowboys and ranchers for my work on the Paniolo Hall of Fame oral history project and my book "Rough Riders," and even though "Heart of a Shepherd" takes place in Oregon, the characters on the ranch feel really true to me, and I find myself relating to them. Faith and Christianity also plays a key role in the book, and even though I'm not religious, the role of the church to these characters' lives felt completely authentic and a natural part of the story...more

Song Of The Day #549

Ranch Radio's tune today is Jole Blon by Moon Mullican.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Lawsuit in federal court challenges Colorado’s renewable energy standard

Two Washington, D.C.-based groups and a Morrison resident filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Colorado challenging the state’s renewable energy standard. The suit, filed by the right-leaning American Tradition Partnership and American Tradition Institute, claims the state’s renewable energy standard initially approved by voters in 2004 violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. “The expensive energy mandate doesn’t just kill jobs and drive up prices, it wrongfully interferes with interstate commerce by disrupting the interstate power grid,” said Donald Ferguson, executive director of the partnership. Initially, the standard required power utilities in the state to get at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Because utilities were far exceeding that goal, the standard has since been raised to 30 percent. The suit claims the standard discriminates against other forms of power, such as natural gas and coal. It claims the commerce clause prohibits states from imposing burdens on the interstate market for electricity...more

Enviro group president bashes green movement for ‘shrillness’

Late last year, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp suggested it was time to take the gloves off – at least one anyway – against industry following the Senate collapse of climate change legislation. On Monday, he slugged environmentalists too. Greenwire (subscription req’d) reports from Laguna Niguel, California: Environmental groups have too often approached climate change politics with an air of disdain for their opponents, and that must change if major federal legislation is going to advance, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund said yesterday. With neither a comprehensive energy policy nor a carbon cap-and-trade bill moving in Congress, EDF President Fred Krupp said advocates must reassess their strategy and perhaps adopt a less arrogant approach that takes into account all sides of the global warming debate. "There has to be a lot of shrillness taken out of our language," Krupp said yesterday, during Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Green conference here. "In the environmental community, we have to be more humble. We can't take the attitude that we have all the answers."...more

Idaho presses on with wolf disaster declaration

Tiffani Bowen waits tables and cooks at the Country Coffee Cabin in Midvale, a little western Idaho ranching community along U.S. Highway 95 near millions of acres of National Forest land. The mother of a 2-year-old has never seen one of the wolves that roam the mountains here, but when local talk turns to the big predators, residents are unified, she said. "Everyone wants to have them all gone," Bowen said. The local Republican Rep. Judy Boyle did her part Tuesday, successfully sponsoring a disaster emergency declaration that cleared the Idaho House on a 64-5 vote. It would allow Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to enlist local law enforcement agents to help kill wolves if he decides they are a risk to humans, livestock, outfitting businesses or wildlife. It's similar to a measure in which Idaho County in 2010 unsuccessfully sought authority from Otter to allow wolves to be shot on sight. Wolves haven't attacked humans since their reintroduction to Idaho in 1995, but there's an almost archetypal fear in some of Idaho's rural communities that they are under siege from the big canine carnivores. Ranchers complain they're losing their livestock, hunters say wolves have made big game scarce. And Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, says she won't let her grandchildren play outdoors because wolves have been spotted on nearby Blue Mountain. "They're killers, they do it for sport, and then they leave their victim still alive for a lingering death," Barrett said. After Tuesday's vote, the measure moves to the Senate...more

Eco-groups fight coal mining in Wyoming, Montana Powder River Basin

Environmental groups announced Tuesday they are challenging in court the Obama administration's plan to lease vast coal reserves in the nation's largest coal producing region. Three groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court contesting the federal leasing program for the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. The area produces almost half the nation's coal and has seen a sharp increase in mining in recent decades as production in Eastern states tapers. Coal companies want to further ramp up mining in the basin both to serve U.S. power plants and also increase the industry's exports to Asia, a market expected to grow sharply in coming years. The lawsuit says a 1990 decision to "decertify" the Powder River Basin as a coal producing region is no longer valid. Plaintiffs say that move — which followed a brief period of declining production — has allowed the government to avoid environmental reviews on the climate change impact of burning billions of tons of coal. The lawsuit names Interior Sec. Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey as defendants. It was filed Monday by the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and WildEarth Guardians...more

Interior plans new rules on ‘blowout preventers’

Interior Department officials are planning new regulations to bolster subsea blowout preventers at offshore oil-and-gas rigs. The blowout preventer — a supposedly fail-safe device to contain runaway wells — did not deploy correctly when BP’s Macondo well ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico last April. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that regulators are examining issues including instrumentation and the need for a more robust system of so-called blind shear rams. A federally commissioned forensic report on the blowout preventer used at BP’s well found that its shear rams — powerful metal arms intended to close off wells — were unable to close around a piece of pipe that became trapped during the accident...more

Questions emerge over tax breaks for solar project

Some statistics about Copper Mountain Solar, a 775,000-panel array outside Boulder City that went online last year as the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the United States, might seem surprising. And not in a good way. Temporary construction jobs created: 350. Not bad. Nevadans employed: 262. That’s a good share. Solar power coming to Nevada: 0. Zip. Parts manufactured in Nevada: 0. Zilch. Permanent jobs created: 5. That’s not a typo. State incentives developer Sempra Generation received: $12 million. That’s not a typo, either...But questions remain about what role government should play in the industry’s development, especially as figures from completed projects come to light. The quandary can be put this way: Is it worth spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to create only a handful of permanent jobs?...more

Tribes push to remove red tape from energy development

Tribal leaders urged lawmakers Friday to unravel the red tape that has delayed energy development on American Indian land. "We want development of our natural resources. Nevertheless, we've been held back for many reasons," Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly told the House natural resource panel's Indian affairs subcommittee. "I believe that leaders want to help, but that message seems to get lost in the federal government." Tribal lands contain an estimated 10 percent of the nation's renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, but more than 15 million acres of Indian land with such resources have not been developed, said Rep. Don Young, the Alaska Republican who chairs the subcommittee. Young and tribal leaders said burdensome federal laws and regulations are to blame. Because the federal government holds tribal lands in trust, drilling or building renewable energy plants on reservations requires federal approval...more

Rancher agrees to pay $275K after wetlands damaged

A Ninemile-area rancher has agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty for allegedly violating the federal Clean Water Act in late 2003. Alfred Barone and the Bar One Ranch, which lists a Huson address, also agreed to completely restore about 14 acres of wetlands and stream channel adjacent to Ninemile Creek. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which settled the case with Bar One, the ranch did extensive construction along the south bank of the creek starting in October 2003. "Basically, in about a 23-acre area, Mr. Barone was building a bunch of ponds," said Ken Champagne, a Denver-based enforcement officer for the EPA. "While doing that, he essentially denuded about 13.9 acres of wetland, and he did it all without a permit." The state of Montana had previously declared Ninemile Creek an "impaired" stream because of sediment loading. Bar One also violated terms of a general storm water permit that had been issued to the ranch by the state...more

Texas cockfighting bill seen as an attack on way of life

The hearing room was packed with buzzing, angry ranchers, concerned farm owners and even admitted cockfighters, waiting for their chance to step up to the ring to face the Senate Criminal Justice committee to defend their livelihoods and oppose a bill they believe is an attack on Texas culture. The bill in contention would create penalties for cockfighting -- an action that has been illegal since 1907. Under current law, however, there are no penalties for owning a facility where the fight takes place, possessing birds with the intent to fight, owning equipment or attending a fight. Those pushing the bill want to close the loop holes, so that the law can be enforced. They say an underground network of animal fighters bring out related crimes -- a haven for drug cartels and prostitution. Dozens testifying were outraged, saying these "city folks" making laws have no idea what country life is about. Bobby Jones admitted that he has fought roosters before but seemed to think that the Legislature had bigger problems to worry about and that they were unfairly singling out cockfighters. "Why don't we go down to Sixth Street and close up all the places with prostitutes down there," he asked the lawmakers. Speaking of prostitutes, another witness went slightly off topic when he asked the committee to describe to him what one looks like because he thought he might have "seen some up here last week." "You're talking about at the Captiol?" Whitmire asked. "The Capitol is full of them," the witness answered...more

Seems to me everybody would be better off if the legislators limited their screwin' to prostitutes, and left the bird owners alone.

Brazilian farmers demand weaker environmental laws

Brazilian farmers are demanding that the country's congress ease environmental laws in the Amazon region. Several thousand farmers and ranchers gathered in the capital of Brasilia on Tuesday to support for a bill that would let them clear half the land on their properties in environmentally sensitive areas. Current law allows just 20 percent in the Amazon zone. Farmers in the savanna-like ecosystem known as the Cerrado in central Brazil, farmers would have to protect 20 percent of their property instead of the current 35 percent. The bill would also reduce the areas next to rivers, lakes and water reservoirs that must remain untouched. AP

Corn rises to record, rallies 15 pct on supply fears

U.S. corn futures hit a record high on Tuesday, extending their biggest rally in six months as traders feared supplies could run out unless ranchers or ethanol makers cut back on purchases. Corn has surged more than 15 percent in four days since a U.S. government report showed unexpectedly low inventories as of March 1. Gains slowed on Tuesday, with prices up a 0.7 percent as traders bet that the U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday will further downgrade its end-of-season stocks forecast. But with supplies at their tightest since the 1930s many saw more gains ahead. "Corn has the potential to go higher and I see spot up to $8.25 to $8.45 and it will happen in April or early May," said Tim Hannagan, analyst for PFG Best...more

Balerio led Union raiders during the Civil War

Cecilio Balerio, a Nueces County rancher and horse-trader, commanded 120 men in an irregular Union cavalry outfit that rustled cattle and attacked Confederate wagon trains carrying cotton down the Cotton Road. Balerio's raiders lived in the brush and prowled the remote Wild Horse Desert. Before the war, Balerio traded horses and mules around Corpus Christi. He also had a reputation for stealing horses. Maria von Blucher in a letter to her parents in Germany wrote that the Blucher remuda of horses was stolen by Balerio, "a noted horse thief. Among them was my pretty chestnut mare; so probably she is gone, along with the rest." When the Civil War broke out, E.J. Davis, former Corpus Christi judge who became a Union leader, enlisted Balerio to attack wagon trains carrying cotton down the Cotton Road between Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande. Balerio's outfit was, nominally, under the command structure of John Haynes' Second Regiment of Texas Cavalry (Union). But Balerio operated on his own, committing what the Confederates considered subversive activities and opportunistic marauding. Balerio was 65 in 1861. He was assisted by two sons: an older son named Juan and 19-year-old Jose Mario. Balerio was in contact with Union commanders in Matamoros and later in Brownsville. He supplied Union forces with beef cattle rounded up from South Texas ranches. He also was in contact with Union blockade ships standing to off the Aransas Pass channel. The ships supplied Balerio with Burnside Carbines, Colt revolvers, blankets, and paid him in gold for his guerrilla activities against the Confederacy...more

Miniature Horses approved as service animals under new federal guidelines

Don't be surprised if you see a Miniature Horse boarding the subway, walking down a city street or inside an office building. Minis and dogs are now officially the only two types of animal approved as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While not common, Minis have earned a reputation as an alternative to the traditional service dogs. They are highly trainable and can even be housebroken—a requirement for service animals under the ADA. With a lifespan of 30 years, Minis have a much longer working life than dogs...more

Song Of The Day #548

Jimmy C. Newman's 1961 recording of Big Mamou will continue Ranch Radio's week of cajun-influenced country.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ken Salazar Denies BP In Talks To Resume Drilling In The Gulf

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pushed back against reports that BP is in talks to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, almost a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout killed 11 workers and dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, calling those reports a "misconception." The New York Times reported over the weekend that two anonymous BP officials said the energy company is in talks to resume drilling at 10 of their wells in the Gulf, as long as they agree to stricter safety regulations. According to one of the officials, the agreement could be reached in the next month. "We're making progress but it's not a yes yet," one of the officials reportedly said. But, Reuters reports, Salazar strongly denied this: "There is absolutely no such agreement nor would there be such an agreement," he said Monday. Salazar also said that BP would have to go through the same process as other companies in order to resume drilling...more

Scientists want politics kept out of endangered species decisions

Some 1,293 scientists sent a letter (pdf) this week to each and every U.S. senator urging them not to support any endangered species legislation that is based on politics rather than science. "As scientists with expertise in biological systems," the letter reads, "we are writing to urge you to vote against any legislation that would undercut the use of best available science as the basis for adding or removing any particular species from the protection of the Endangered Species Act." The letter, sent under the aegis of the Union of Concerned Scientists, follows recent political moves to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupis) from the endangered species list as well as other similar actions making their way through the legislative process. The document was signed by scientists from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories. "If any one species is taken off the endangered species list by Congress, then all of the species on the list become vulnerable to future political attacks," said wildlife ecologist Franz Camenzind, one of the signatories, in a prepared statement. "This would send the implementation of the Endangered Species Act into chaos, creating uncertainty both for species and for the communities and businesses around them."Other attempts to legislate endangered species based on political decisions include a bill from Rep. Joe Baca (D–Calif.) that would limit Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection to 15 years, a period in which species could either recover or on its expiration no longer be safeguarded; legislation from Rep. Don Young (R–Alaska) to remove polar bears from the ESA; and spending bills in both houses of Congress to end water-use restrictions put in place to protect endangered species in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta...more

Sure they do - just like they kept politics out of the science of global warming.

The passage of the ESA was a political act, committed by politicians. Why would they expect any amendments to the act to not be political?

In his 1972 message to Congress President Nixon said, "...even the most recent act to protect endangered species, which dates only from 1969, simply does not provide the kind of management tools needed to act early enough to save a vanishing species. In particular, existing laws do not generally allow the Federal Government to control shooting, trapping, or other taking of endangered species." So he proposed legislation to make those federal offenses, along with other changes that became the ESA.

Do they really think this wasn't political? Did Richard Nixon do anything that wasn't political? Pure, raw politics passed the act and any amendments will be undertaken in the same atmosphere, no matter what the scientists say.

Let's not forget in that same message to Congress Nixon also proposed Nation Land Use Planning. He stated, "A new maturity is giving rise to a land ethic which recognizes that improper land use affects the public interest and limits the choices that we and our descendants will have. Now we must equip our institutions to carry out the responsibility implicit in this new outlook. We must create the administrative and regulatory mechanisms necessary to assure wise land use and to stop haphazard, wasteful, or environmentally damaging development."

Think of the mess we would be in today if that had passed too.

Environmentalists stand up to Obama, win big

Under intense pressure from green groups and their members, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced Friday that Republican proposals to gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were off the table in budget negotiations. "Neither the White House nor Senate Leaders is going to accept any EPA riders," Reid said. Reid's pledge follows 48 hours of intense pressure on the White House from major green groups, marking the first time many large environmental organizations have so openly and loudly targeted Obama and Reid -- and it produced extraordinarily rapid results. Indeed, as recently as Wednesday, the Associated Press had reported that Obama was insisting that congressional Democrats swallow rollbacks to EPA's authority to crack down on climate emissions, mountaintop-removal coal mining, and Chesapeake Bay pollution as the price for passing a budget deal. When asked about the report, the White House refused to issue a veto threat against the rollbacks, and last Tuesday, Reid told reporters, "We're happy to look at the policy riders. There aren't many of them that excite me. But we're willing to look at them. In fact, we've already started looking at some of the policy riders." That attitude began to change when environmentalists decided they'd gone too far...more

NM: Rare Chance to Speak Up about National Forests

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or make a living off the land, this week brings a once-in-a-generation chance to make an impact on New Mexico's national forests. A public discussion Tuesday in Albuquerque is to cover a proposed update of the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The governing rule for how a Forest Service ranger district manages its land has gathered some serious dust: it's been in place for well over a generation. The Obama Administration has proposed an update to the NFMA, and conservation groups say that's a good idea, but they don't think the proposal will go far enough to protect forest land over the next 30 years. Nathan Newcomer, associate director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, calls New Mexico the birthplace of wilderness, but he says the state ranks dead last for its amount of protected public land. He thinks the new rule is too vague, and leaves too much discretion to local forest managers...more

A (buffalo) bull market: Meat's demand outstripping supply

Not a day goes by when Jim Hanson doesn't receive emails and phone calls from people requesting bison meat. Unfortunately, the Cle Elum rancher has none to sell. "I have more customers than I can supply. It's an everyday thing," said Hanson, who has raised bison for 21 years at Swauk Prairie Bison. "There will be a real shortage of meat for awhile." The meat -- long touted for its health benefits -- has gained a growing and loyal following in recent years, so much so that national demand has outstripped supply. Although producers are trying to increase their herds, they said doing so requires keeping their heifers from slaughter. More meat will become available in coming years, but for now, they said there's little they can do. Bison meat is low in fat and cholesterol and devoid of antibodies and hormones, said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association in Westminster, Colo. But because the meat was rumored to be tough and gamey, there wasn't much interest in it until 2000. "We had to get people to take their first taste of bison," Carter said about his association's marketing efforts. "Then they wanted more." The benefits of bison, Carter said, are that they take care of themselves, they calve on their own and they're known for surviving even the most severe weather conditions...more

Song Of The Day #547

This week Ranch Radio will feature cajun-influenced country.

We'll begin with the original version of Louisiana Man recorded in 1961 by Rusty & Doug Kershaw. This was a big hit as I was entering high school.

The tune is available on their 2 disc compilation Louisiana Men - The Complete Hickory Recordings.

2 Americans killed at Tijuana border crossing

Two men who prosecutors tentatively identified as U.S. citizens were shot to death in their vehicle early Monday as they waited at a Tijuana-area border crossing to enter the United States. Prosecutors in Baja California state quoted witnesses as saying a gunman approached the line of vehicles waiting at the San Ysidro border crossing and fired into the men's pickup truck, hitting the victims in the head, arms and body. Citing the Baja California Attorney General's Office, the San Diego Union-Tribune identified the men as Sergio Salcido Luna, 25, and Kevin Joel Romero, 28. The company's owner, Matt Pelot, told the Union-Tribune that the pair had worked for him for about 18 months, and were both U.S. citizens who lived across the border to save money. "They were good guys," Pelot told the newspaper. "I don’t think they were dealing drugs, selling drugs or anything to do with drugs. They were both very hardworking individuals. They had a zest for life."...more

Southern Exposure documentary “exposes” U.S. border inconsistencies

Two words used most often to describe the U.S. illegal immigration problem are – divisive and political. However a new documentary, Southern Exposure, provides a balanced look at the U.S./Mexican border and sheds light on America’s porous southern borders. If you want a bird’s eye view of the tale of two countries and their respective border problems this two-hour documentary provides the good, the bad and the ugly issues that ranchers, law enforcement and lawmakers contend with on a daily basis. The filmmakers began their journey with one thing in mind - explore all aspects of the southern border. After three arduous years the balanced documentary was finally released. The footage primarily focuses on the Arizona portion of the border and interviewers manage to get U.S. Border Patrol Agents as well as local law enforcement to describe the sometimes harsh conditions that Americans who reside near the border are faced with on a daily basis. For those who are curious about the painstaking journey that illegal aliens decide to take for a “better life,” Southern Exposure does not disappoint. The devastation illegal border crossers feel when they are apprehended is captured on film. However, along with those “coming for a better life,” immigrants are an increasing number of drug smugglers, terrorists and other hardened criminals. Wald points out that this increasing danger along the border is evident with the recent murders of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Arizona rancher Robert Krenz...more

Monday, April 04, 2011

Editorial: Ever vigilant

...So, while the Army secretary says expansion is no longer a goal of the service, that very well could change with new circumstances. Right now the Army intends to spend $750 million at Fort Carson to house a new aviation brigade, and with the federal budget being as it is, there probably is no more money for Fort Carson’s ambitions. But the fact is, the Army always wants more land, no matter where it has a post. While the current leadership at the Mountain Post and in the Pentagon may not have immediate plans for Pinon Canyon expansion, that doesn’t mean new commanders — military and civilian — won’t have different designs. It was just in 2006 that the Army announced its goal of expanding Pinon Canyon to include a huge swath across Southeastern Colorado. But the Army never was able to make a persuasive case why it needed more land there, being that the training range has been used sparingly. Meanwhile, Southeastern Colorado has a sorry history of promises broken by past Fort Carson brass, defying court orders and even ignoring a funding ban by Congress for PCMS expansion. Rather, with great fanfare the Army promised it was going to do a great deal of business with merchants in Pueblo, La Junta and Trinidad. That never happened. So it’s no wonder that the people of Southeastern Colorado remain skeptical, no matter what the Army says. It will be incumbent on all who support the vital ranching industry around Pinon Canyon to be ever vigilant to the Army’s future intentions. We support the military, but those in charge today will be gone tomorrow, unlike the three- and four-generation ranching families in Southeastern Colorado...more

The Pueblo Chieftain gets it. Now if only the Colorado Congressional Delegation would.

Editorial: Don't let Big Green use government to mug taxpayers

So you are walking along one bright, sunny day minding your own business and loving life when suddenly two strangers jump in front of you, one a bearded dude in a worn L.L. Bean canvas shirt, khaki cargo shorts and sandals, the other in a dark pin-striped suit waving a file labeled "Equal Access to Justice Act." When they demand that you "hand it over," your first instinct is probably to grip your wallet while assuming a defensive stance. You are indeed about to be mugged, but don't bother fighting these characters. Resistance is useless because such muggers have the law on their side. EAJA payouts for lawyer fees and other settlement costs in environmental suits against the government are going to leave you much poorer...more

Editorial: Secrecy hides taxpayer dollars used in Big Green lawsuits

For thousands of farming and ranching families with leases and grazing rights on public lands in the West, having a good lawyer on call is more than a routine cost of doing business. It's an absolute necessity to protect a way of life that has often been handed down for generations. But that's far from the worst of it because not only do these hard-working, taxpaying men and women have to pay their own attorneys, they also frequently end up having to help pay the attorneys' fees and other legal costs for Big Green environmental groups that file lawsuits seeking to force the federal government to do their bidding. Usually, the individual ranchers and farmers aren't even defendants, they're just innocent bystanders who need attorneys to protect their interests because their livelihoods depend on the outcome of such litigation. This unjust situation is a result of the Big Green environmental movement's discovery several decades ago that there was indeed "gold in them thar hills," thanks to an obscure federal law known as the Equal Access to Justice Act. Sunday's Examiner editorial detailed how a law intended to help small businesses get their day in court has been perverted into an unaccountable, tax-paid, cash cow worth hundreds of millions of dollars to groups like the Sierra Club, Center for Biodiversity, Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council. Payments under EAJA are made by the U.S. Treasury to its Judgment Fund, which is funded by a permanent congressional appropriation. The fund is not audited, agencies aren't required to account in their budgets for payments mandated by court decisions in their areas of jurisdiction, and courts often seal settlements to prevent public examination. It's an open invitation for Big Green groups to file suits, knowing that win or lose, most if not all of their legal expenses will be paid by the government. Best of all for them, it's all but impossible to track who gets how much from the taxpayers from these suits...more

The Green Regulation Machine: Saving the Planet or Killing Jobs?

A ReasonTV video showing how an environmental agency ignores science, and how pressure from the environmental regulatory community results in the removal of a university professor.

The Heart of the Country

Only once in a blue moon do Kansas farm and ranch families have an opportunity to tell their story to people half way around the world. That was the case March 23-24 when a Dutch (public broadcasting company in the Netherlands) television crew traveled to Smith and Sheridan counties to portray life on the farm in rural Kansas. Theron and Lori Haresnape and family, Smith County, Harold and Bridget Koster and grandchildren and Wilfred Reinert from Sheridan County provided an up-close and personal view of their farming operations, family, faith and how folks live in the Heartland. So often visitors from other countries travel to the United States and they only travel to the East or West coasts, says Paul Rosenmoller. He interviewed the Kansas farmers and ranchers as part of the Dutch film crew. People who live and work in the Midwest are often overlooked and seldom included in visits by travelers from abroad, he continues. The same holds true for television documentaries. “Farms, ranches and small villages of 14 people like Seguin are an integral part of the United States of America,” Rosenmoller says. “I believe these rural areas are underestimated. The people who live here have sentiments, opinions and views just like other parts of America. So what is happening in the countryside has a huge impact on what we know in Europe as the United States.”...more

5 homes, several barns damaged in fast grass fire that forced evacuation of NM race track

Firefighters battled a wind-driven wildfire Monday that has already destroyed five homes, forced evacautions and knocked oput plower to about 1,000 homes and businesses, officials said. More than 100 people at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino were ordered evacuated Sunday as were several neighborhoods in the community of Ruidoso Downs. New Mexico Forestry Division spokesman Dan Ware confirmed that the buildings were damaged by the wind-driven blaze, which had not been contained. He said it has scorched more than 2,000 acres, or over 3 square miles, on private, state and federal land in southern New Mexico. Ware said he did not know the locations of the homes but that several barns were destroyed that were east of the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino, which is home to the All-American Futurity. The race is one of the richest in quarter horse racing; last year’s winner earned $1 million...more

Congressman Young Snubs HSUS

U.S. Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) left no doubt where he stands when it comes to anti-hunting organizations, when he refused to accept an award from the Humane Society of the United States, calling the national group hypocritical. Rep. Young, who chairs the powerful House Resources Committee, speculated that HSUS was planning to give him an award for his support of the Wildlife Without Borders program, which develops wildlife management and conservation efforts to maintain global species diversity. But as a longtime hunter and champion of hunter’s rights, he also knew about the organization’s long history of legislative meddling on Capitol Hill and its support of anti-hunting issues and initiatives. “Local animal shelters and humane societies do excellent work by caring for neglected and homeless animals, and through their spaying and neutering programs,” Young said in a press release issued March 30. “(HSUS), however, has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare. Instead they prey on the emotions of big-hearted Americans...more

New Mexico Forest Road Plan Blocked

In response to an appeal by the Center for Biological Diversity, Amigos Bravos and WildEarth Guardians, on Monday the Southwestern Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service reversed a decision to add user-created roads to the Carson National Forest’s official road system. The Carson must now close those roads and exclude them from maps showing which roads are open to the public. “Closing harmful roads will help sensitive soils, watersheds and wildlife,” said Cyndi Tuell, a Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “For years we’ve asked the Forest Service to protect our forests from harmful roads. In this case they didn’t even bother to visit the roads they were proposing to add to the system.” “User-created” roads are made when people drive off-road to camping spots with their motorhomes, trucks and off-road vehicles. “Over time these trips create tracks that others follow, and before you know it a whole new road is in place,” said Tuell. “Because they’re not designed to any standard, these roads can cause erosion, destroy stream banks and critical wildlife habitat and even cause safety problems.” The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance also appealed the Forest’s decision. That appeal was rejected by the Regional Office of the Forest Service. This is the second appeal filed by the ORV users’ group rejected by the Regional Office for the Carson National Forest...Press Release

Hispanic farmer settlement part of upcoming ranchers forum in Taos

Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who can prove they were victims of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture may be eligible for up to $50,000 in compensation from the federal government. That claims settlement fund will be among the many topics discussed during an upcoming Rancher's Forum, which takes place April 8 and 9 at the Taos County Economic Development Corp. Business Park. The forum, presented by the Taos County Economic Development Corp. and the New Mexico Acequia Association, is intended to bring together local producers and agriculture agencies to share knowledge and provide updates about industry issues. For area ranchers and farmers, the $1.3 billion claims fund being organized by the USDA for Hispanic and women farmers will likely be one of the more noteworthy issues discussed during the two-day event...more

Beware on the range: Cattle rustling in Texas is up

Watch out on the range, pardner, because cattle rustling in Texas is up. The number of cattle stolen from Texas ranches in 2010 rose 15 percent from the previous year and was three times the figure of three years ago, according to data released on Friday. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, which employs special investigators to work with lawmen to investigate cattle theft, said the number of cattle stolen in 2010 reached 7,400 head compared with 6,400 the previous year and only 2,400 in 2007. "We attribute much of that to the economy," the Association's Carmen Fenton said. She says high levels of rural unemployment and poverty lead to more cattle thefts, and she says rustlers have noticed the skyrocketing price of beef. Prices for live cattle surged by more than 20 percent during 2010 to around 110 cents per pound by the end of the year, based on Chicago futures market. Prices have continued to rise this year and now stand at more than 120 cents a pound. Rancher Emil 'Sonny' Seewald says stealing cattle can be much more lucrative than other types of theft. "On the cattle they can get the full market price," he said. "If they steal a car or the stereo out of your car, they won't get but ten cents on the dollar."...more

Severe drought testing Texas cattle industry’s survival instincts

Texas cattle rancher Bill Hyman characterizes people in his industry as “survivalists and optimists.” But the state’s worst drought in 44 years is testing both sides of that assessment. Hyman said he cut his cow herd by more than a third over the winter, to about 80 animals, because persistent dryness has left him with little pasture for grazing. Gonzalez County, where Hyman is located, once had the most cattle of any county in Texas, he said. Now it’s closer to No. 7, he said, because drought has forced so many ranchers to sell cows and bulls. “I just don’t have the carrying capacity and the hay to feed them,” Hyman, 61, said in a March 30 phone interview. He is executive director of the Austin-based Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas. “If it doesn’t rain the next 30 days, I’m going to have to go back into the herd and cull more.” Hyman and other ranchers are farmers across Texas, the top U.S. beef producer, are grappling with a severe drought that threatens to further pinch the state’s $10.5 billion cattle industry and is also hurting growth of wheat and other crops...more

Southern Arizona in extreme drought conditions

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of southeastern Arizona is under an extreme drought. Since the start of the year, we're more than 2-inches below average on rainfall. If you go back to October, we're nearly 4-and-a-half inches behind. This is creating major concerns for local farmers and ranchers. At Vaquero Feeds, they can't keep enough hay in stock. Just yesterday two truck loads were delivered. Barbara Jackson who owns the business says, "The drought is causing great problems just because when you have no feed and that's your business to harvest the forage for your animals and there's nothing left you gotta find something else to feed them." Besides the hay and the feed, ranchers are also purchasing 200 pound tubs of molasses. It's a protein supplement for the cows...more

Song Of The Day #546

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio, and here's bluegrass singer Laurie Lewis doing a fine job on the swing tune Texas Bluebonnets.

You'll find the tune on her 16 track CD Earth & Sky: Songs of Laurie.

Border towns are secure?

An article on the front page of the T-R on March 25, "Napolitano: US border towns with Mexico are safe" leads you to believe our southern border is safe with the quote "The border is better now than it ever has been." I have networked with families who had a family member killed by illegal aliens ever since my Mom was killed by an illegal alien. Ranchers in Arizona tell a vastly different story than Janet Napolitano. Perhaps the Associated Press should verify their facts instead of giving us the idea that Janet is telling the truth. Consider Sue whose husband Rob was murdered on their ranch near the border with Mexico on March 27, 2010. If our border is so secure, how was it that Rob was murdered on his ranch? Tracks were followed to the border. Sue mentions "all the times we had trucks stolen and the house robbed." My heart goes out to Sue as she tries to keep the ranch going. Life in Iowa can be difficult for our farmers, but imagine the danger the ranchers on our southern border face. Sue continues, "In one eight day period officials removed 500 people from the ranch." Imagine the dangers of trying to ranch with trespassers on the ranch - many who are heavily armed. I can't even imagine trying to work the land while facing running into someone carrying AK47's. Ask Brian Terry's family how secure the border is...more

Poe Introduces Borderlands Safety Act

Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) introduced H.R. 1277, the Southern Borderlands Public Safety Communications Act, at the request of the office of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “This bill continues our efforts to enhance security on the border region by improving communications, “said Poe. “It was very obvious to me during my recent visit to Southern Arizona that there are too many areas where cell phones simply do not work. We have the same problem in parts of Texas. Congresswoman Giffords and I believe that if the Federal Government is not going to protect its citizens who live in fear each day on the border, the least it can do is give them the resources to call for help if they are in danger.” This legislation is the result of a problem that Congresswoman Giffords has been working to address since the March 2010 murder of one of her constituents, rancher Rob Krentz. It authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to make grants available for public-private partnerships that finance equipment and infrastructure to improve the public safety of persons who are residents of rural areas of the United States-Mexico border by enhancing access to mobile communications. It has been reported that Rob Krentz was in an area with no cell phone service when he was attacked by suspected drug smugglers. His killer remains at large...more

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Who of us could?
 by Julie Carter

There is a new crop of 18-year-olds about to be loosed on a world full of technology and endless possibilities. It seems important to remember that the abundance of choices and opportunities weren't always there.

The youngest of 10 children, her short life had been full of hard work and Old World discipline. Her mother died when she was 8 and in the summer of her 18th year, her father died. It was 1930.

Her siblings had already married, joined the military and found jobs. She was the last one in the nest and the nest was about to be sold, leaving her homeless.

Down the road a few miles was a childhood friend who was also looking for a home. His widowed father had taken a young wife and was starting a new family. He and his brothers felt in the way and decided to strike out on their own.

It was not at all a romantic start to life, but the two homeless young friends married that December because of circumstances, not love. 

Their first home was a one-room cabin in the foothills near a freshwater spring. She filled the cracks with rags and tacked tar paper to the walls to keep out the winter winds. He had a job with a sawmill but it was too far away for a daily walk to work, so he left on Mondays and returned home on Saturday nights. 

The isolation and loneliness was overwhelming for the young bride.

Her only company was a big collie dog and a very cranky milk cow. She spent her days sewing, mending, cooking and doing laundry.

The basics of living took all day, especially in the winter when wood needed chopped and laundry required water to be bucketed from the spring. After a washboard scrubbing, it was strung on lines throughout the cabin to dry. 

A few chickens provided an occasional egg or two and the couple was gifted with half of a deer that she canned or fried and preserved in a crock of lard. 

The cow provided them with fresh milk, cream and butter and copious amounts of cottage cheese that she made.

In the spring, she planted a garden with great anticipation of fresh vegetables. She spent long days watering, hoeing and hoeing some more. The green sprouts broke through the fertile ground and became lush with promise.

In a cruel twist of fate from Mother Nature, she awoke on a July morning to find row after row of frozen, blackened plants. Not knowing what else to do, she fell to the ground and cried.

When her anger and disappointment were spent, she prayed, picked up her hoe and began again. She never forgot the day her prayers were answered and she saw the first green stems poking through the ground in the garden she'd coaxed back to life.

It was the height of the depression -- the dirty '30s. The family ranch was struggling with cattle selling for $17 a head, if you could find someone to buy them. It was not enough to support two families so the young couple continued to fend for themselves.

He continued to find sawmill work and even found a mill closer to home. He walked four miles to and from work every day, working 10 hours a day for the princely sum of 15 cents an hour. Being frugal was not a choice.

The first baby was born a month premature and survived in an incubator fashioned from a shoe box set on the open oven door of the wood cook stove. Eleven months later another son arrived. Their income was supplemented with the sale of furs collected from a trap line. 

After saving for a long time, they were able to by a Model T Roadster for $25. Their social life consisted of playing cards and checkers if someone happened by and stayed awhile. Material things didn't matter, family and survival did.

This couple is my grandparents -- married 50 years, most of them hard times, remembered with sweet memories. "We raised our kids on beans, love and poached venison," my grandmother would say. 

How many today could do the same?

Julie can be reached for comment at