Saturday, February 09, 2013

AMI President Tells Vilsack USDA Has Legal Obligation to Provide Meat Inspection Even Under Sequestration

    AMI President J. Patrick Boyle today wrote Agriculture Secretary Vilsack reminding him of USDA’s legal obligations to provide meat inspection even under sequestration.  Boyle sent the letter in response to comments made by USDA to media that sequestration would result in an across-the-board furlough of as much as 15 days for all Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employees, including inspectors.
     In the comments, USDA also said that production will shut down for that time period, impacting approximately 6,290 establishments nationwide and costing roughly over $10 billion in production losses. USDA further told reporters that industry workers would experience over $400 million in lost wages and that consumers would experience limited meat and poultry supplies and potentially higher prices.
    “We agree with the assessment that furloughing inspectors would have a profound, indeed devastating, effect on meat and poultry companies, their employees, and consumers, not to mention the producers who raise the cattle, hogs, lamb, and poultry processed in those facilities,” Boyle said.  “AMI respectfully disagrees with the Department’s assertion is that, in the event of sequestration, the furloughs referenced are necessary and legal.  The Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (the Acts) impose many obligations on the inspected industry, which we strive to meet.  Those Acts, also however, impose an obligation on the Department – to provide inspection services.”
    Boyle noted that a significant percentage of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) budget goes to personnel salaries, but not all of those funds are used to pay the inspectors necessary to allow establishments to operate.
    “ Rather than impose across the board furloughs that will lead to plant closures, it is incumbent upon the Department to examine the options available to it, e.g., suspending certain non-essential programs and furloughing non-essential personnel within the 13 different offices (only one of which involves inspectors in plant) that make up FSIS,” he wrote.
   “Such an approach would enable FSIS to meet its obligations under a sequestration scenario and satisfy its statutory obligation to provide inspection pursuant to the Acts,” he concluded.  “By doing so the Department would avoid inflicting unnecessary hardship on the more than 500,000 people who work in the meat and poultry industry and the more than one million livestock and poultry producers whose livelihoods also depend on those plants operating, and would also disruption of supplies to the 95 percent of Americans who make meat and poultry a nutritious part of their diets. Press Release

Two observations

° This demonstrates the livestock industry's huge entanglement with the feds, and

° This is another attempt by the Obama adm. to get the R's in the House to back down on sequestration

Gun bill advances in NM Legislature

A bill expanding the rights of those with permits for concealed handguns advanced this week in the New Mexico Legislature, though it was watered down considerably. The bill would allow permit holders to bring their guns into restaurants that serve liquor. It cleared the House Business and Industry Committee on a bipartisan 6-4 vote Thursday night. The sponsor, Republican Rep. Zach Cook of Ruidoso, eliminated the section of the bill that would have allowed permit holders to bring their guns into bars. "There was a lot of opposition to that," he said afterward. Rather than risking defeat in his first committee hearing on the bill, Cook decided not to press for carry rights in bars. Convenience to permit holders was the main reason he cited for trying to enable them to bring guns into restaurants. Cook said his constituents told him they do not want to remove their concealed guns when going to dinner at an establishment that serves alcohol. Those carrying guns are not supposed to drink, however. They are restricted by their permits from consuming alcohol when armed. Two Democrats on the committee joined four Republicans in voting for Cook's bill. The Democrats who supported it were Reps. Dona Irwin of Deming and Debbie Rodella of Espanola. Cook's proposal, House Bill 137, was waiting for consideration in both the House Industry and Business Committee and the House Judiciary Committee on Friday...more

Friday, February 08, 2013

Song Of The Day #1016

The George Jones & Melba Montgomery recording of I Can't Get Over You is Ranch Radio's tune today. The tune is on their 1964 LP Album Bluegrass Hootenanny.

PLC, NCBA support reintroduction of Grazing Improvement Act

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly support the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013, introduced today in the U.S. Senate. Sen.John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), along with cosponsors Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), introduced the bill, which seeks to improve the livestock grazing permitting processes on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The bill was debated during the last session of Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives; it passed the House with bipartisan support as part of the Conservation and Economic Growth Act (H.R. 2578). PLC President Brice Lee, a Colorado rancher, asserted that the uncertainty surrounding grazing permit renewals is threatening ranchers’ ability to stay in business. “Those of us who utilize grazing on public lands face grave threats to our way of life due to today’s cumbersome and inefficient permit renewal process. It puts us at constant risk of seeing suits filed by radical environmental activists who seek to eliminate grazing on federal lands,” Lee said. “This bill would end some of the instability in the permitting process that plagues the grazing industry in the West.” NCBA President J.D. Alexander said that the bill simply makes sense, as it proposes to codify language that has been included in federal appropriations bills for over a decade. That appropriations language, which has long enjoyed bipartisan support, allows the BLM and USFS to renew grazing permits under existing terms and conditions while the backlog of environmental analyses is being addressed. “Increasing the term of a grazing permit from 10 to 20 years, as is proposed in the bill, will decrease the interval at which grazing allotments come up for environmental analyses,” Alexander said. ”This will decrease the daunting backlog facing the agencies and will make these processes more efficient.”...more

Land Transfer Act would benefit Otero Co.

Across New Mexico, we have a rich history in farming, ranching, hunting, fishing and oil drilling. In our past, we have also had a thriving timber industry that is unfortunately near nonexistent. We have been fortunate to have vast expanses of land that can be utilized by New Mexicans to help feed their families and enrich their communities. However, we are currently not getting the full use of the land that could be available. Instead, we are paying a management fee to the federal government to allow them to make the rules on how our land is used. To ensure that New Mexicans are able to take part in a variety of livelihoods, as well as to ensure that we can all responsibly enjoy our lands, I have sponsored legislation -- cosponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, and Rep. Debbie Rodella, D Española -- that will transfer ownership and management of public lands from the federal government back to New Mexico. Doing so will give us both an increase in revenues, as well as a greater authority in making decisions that are best for New Mexicans. Local people are the best ones to make the decisions that affect their homes and communities. Under our bill, the Transfer of Public Lands Act, we are not advocating for the sale of any of these lands, or even proposing that anything be done with monuments, parks, tribal land and other federally managed lands. Instead, we are targeting public lands, like our forests and those currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In Otero County, we would greatly benefit from this act as it has the potential to allow for a renewal of the timber industry. A healthy timber industry, managed responsibly by New Mexicans, would not only help our economy by creating a large number of jobs, but it would also help protect our watersheds and keep our forests as livable habitats for all wildlife. Also, by responsibly thinning our overgrown forests, we can help decrease the devastation of wildfires. As it is currently, the federal government has logging restrictions that keep our forests overgrown, creating a hazardous environment. When a fires starts, the overgrowth serves as kindling, creating a massive forest fire that threatens the safety of our homes and communities. Our state has seen too many out-of-control fires over the past few years, and we can help stop this threat to our safety. It is time to put an end to this danger for Otero County and for all New Mexicans...more

Bill would move New Mexico's federal lands into state custody

Legislation that would move ownership and management of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico has been sent to the House Agriculture and Water Resource Committee for study. House Bill 292 - The New Mexico Transfer of Public Lands - was introduced by Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, and Sen. Richard C. Martinez, D-Espanola, and calls on the U.S. government to extinguish title to public lands and transfers title to the state of New Mexico on or before Dec. 31, 2015. The legislation would exclude national parks and monuments, national historic parks, wilderness areas and tribal lands. Within Eddy County's borders, there are 1.6 million acres of federal land and 577,225 acres of state land. Private land totals 470,148 acres. Eddy County Commissioner Jack Volpato said he supports the bill and it is "wonderful and long overdue." The bill, he said, is similar to the Transfer of Public Lands Act enacted last year in Utah. He said the transfer of public federal lands should have happened decades ago. "Look at the states east of the Mississippi. They have very little or no federal lands. The westerns states where there is a lot of federal land are being short-changed by the federal government," he said. Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Eddy, who serves on the House Agriculture and Water Resource Committee, said although the bill has been sent to the committee, it has not been scheduled to be heard. However, like Volpato, she believes New Mexico should be allowed to manage its own lands and resources and reap the financial benefits. Brown said although she believes the proposed legislation would be good for the state if it passed, she is doing her homework to determine the full impact of a federal land transfer to the state. "I know a lot of western states are looking at doing this," she said. "But we need to look at all sides of the issue."...more

Gila travel plan raises many opinions at County Commission meeting

A special meeting of the Grant County Board of Commissioners brought a standing-room crowd Tuesday night for a report from the Gila National Forest on the controversial Travel Management Plan. The announcement of the Forest's presentation brought a crowd of people almost never seen at an evening special meeting. Folks either supportive or critical of the Forest's plan filled the provided seats, sat and stood along the walls, and even threatened to spill out into the lobby. Forest officials explained that the Plan has been in the works since late 2005 when the Forest Service published a new Travel Management Rule. The Rule required each national forest to designate the roads, areas and trails that are open to motor vehicle use. Following the rule, the Forest held the first of 46 public open houses to introduce the rule and options for the Forest's action going forward. These were followed by further workshops where Forest officials talked to many local parties. More than 900 people attended these open houses and workshops, all providing input. This input later helped shape the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. When released, more than 2,000 comments were received from concerned parties. These comments came from all over the country and even overseas, but most from the state of New Mexico. Of those, most were from Grant County. The plan developed after so much input acts as what the Forest sees as a compromise between those who want no roads closed to motorized traffic, or even more opened, and those who want more roads closed. It restricts the roads in the Forest to about 3,300 miles, but allows some trail systems to expand. Donna Stevens, of the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance, spoke in favor of the Forest's plan as a compromise. She then showed a map indicating that aside from the actual designated wilderness areas, there was almost nowhere in the Forest that was more than a mile from a road, saying there really wasn't a very big difference. Many supporters mentioned the environmental degradation to the wildlife habitat and the roads themselves. The first speaker against the road closures said he knew of an area currently closed to motorized traffic with a barrier that has been broken for the better part of a year, allowing what it was intended to stop. He had called the Forest Service to let them know months ago, and nothing had been done. He asked how the Forest expected to enforce even more closures when they can't police those in place now. Most of the speakers against closures were outraged by their belief that several hundred miles of roads were not even considered roads in the plan and not included on the map, effectively closing them automatically. Several even questioned the plan's legality based on those roads. Each of the Grant County Commissioners took their turn to speak and invited Hidalgo County Commissioner Darr Shannon and Catron County Commissioner Van Allred to do the same. Each spoke out against the proposed closures...more

Thursday, February 07, 2013

New federal bill filed to protect Taos' Río Grande del Norte

    U.S. Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Representative Ben Ray Luján, have reintroduced legislation in the Senate and House to protect the Río Grande del Norte in Northern New Mexico, an area comprised of more than 240,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in Taos and Rio Arriba Counties.     Since 2009, the three lawmakers and former Sen. Jeff Bingaman have worked -- with the support of the local communities -- to pass legislation to designate the culturally and recreationally significant lands as a National Conservation Area.
    "Some of Northern New Mexico's most historically and culturally rich treasures can be found in these areas," said Udall. "The residents of Taos and Rio Arriba counties have joined us in an effort to protect their incredible landscapes and ensure the lands remain accessible for the benefit of locals and visitors. I was proud to take up this initiative with Jeff Bingaman and we will work to see that the preservation of the Río Grande del Norte is part of his lasting legacy."
    "The Río Grande del Norte is home to a great deal of New Mexico's history and culture," said Heinrich.  "There are many important traditional, cultural, and religious sites in the Río Grande del Norte that are still in use today. These lands are also important to residents and visitors who come for the recreation opportunities, like hunting and fishing, and who bring a lot of resources into New Mexico's economy, especially rural communities. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this initiative, especially with former Senator Jeff Bingaman, who championed this cause. We will continue his efforts to preserve these lands for future generations."
    "Living in New Mexico we have a special connection with the majestic land we are blessed to live on, and the Río Grande del Norte is one of the crowning jewels in our state," Congressman Ben Ray Luján said.     "Whether it is for recreation or farming, sustaining a way of life or finding inspiration, the Río Grande del Norte impacts all those who visit and all those who live off the sustenance it provides. Protecting this land should be a top priority, and Secretary Salazar's visit to Taos in December of last year reinforced that there is overwhelming support by the local community to do so."
    The House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee both held hearings on the legislation last congress.
    In an October 2012 letter, Bingaman and Udall asked President Obama to consider designating the area for national monument status. In a separate letter, Luján and Heinrich also asked the administration to make the area a monument.
    In December, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar hosted a public meeting in Taos to explore possible protection of the area. Residents showed their overwhelming support for protecting the Río Grande Del Norte and the group unanimously spoke out in favor of a monument designation.
    The Taos County Commission, Village of Questa, Taos Chamber of Commerce and Mora Valley Chamber of Commerce, along with over 160 local businesses, support permanent protection of the Río Grande del Norte.

Press Release

How Green Is The New Interior Nominee’s Company?

...Obama presented the 56-year-old West Seattle resident to reporters as both an outsider and an expert on running the agency that manages a fifth of the land in America.
Even as Sally has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington -- where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located -- she is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future.  She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.  She knows the link between conservation and good jobs.  She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.  She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet.
It might seem a stretch to call a retail CEO a climate expert.
In 2006, shortly after Sally Jewell became CEO, REI set some goals for itself: Reduce carbon emissions by a third in three years and be carbon-neutral by the year 2020. In other words, the company aimed to reduce, then eliminate, its impact on the global climate.
Since then, REI has meticulously tracked its energy use and climate impact—and made efforts to reduce both. But rather than going down, the company’s carbon emissions have increased by a third.
Air travel associated with REI’s rapidly growing adventure travel business is responsible for most of the growth.
REI buys “carbon offsets” to make up for its increasingly dirty business. Essentially, instead of reducing its own emissions, REI pays somebody else to reduce theirs.
Jewell’s views on energy production and climate are sure to get an airing in her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings.  If she does get the job, it will be a huge pay cut. She earns more than $2 million a year as the head of REI. That’s about 10 times what she’d make as Secretary of the Interior...more

House Rep's Request Comprehensive Analysis of NEPA’s Costs and Regulatory Burdens on Taxpayers

House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01), along with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (MI-06), Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (CA-25), and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA-09), today sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro requesting a comprehensive economic and administrative evaluation of federal agencies’ required compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) over the last five fiscal years. The letter also asks the GAO to examine “costs associated with NEPA related litigation and delays in regulatory approvals.”  “Since its establishment in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act has evolved into one of the most expansive regulatory laws in the country. The full extent of its breadth and reach, spanning across every federal agency and every federal action, has yet to be comprehensively examined. Nor have the costs associated with compliance been fully measured.  This report will help us better understand the current impact of NEPA on both pending and existing projects, the management and protection of our natural resources and lands, cost of compliance and litigation, and whether or not it has impeded job creation and economic growth. I look forward to the findings of the research and hope that the analyses will give us a clearer understanding of the law and its impact over the last forty years and into the future,” said Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop....more

Here is the letter:


Addressing NM’s drought — at a high price

Suffering through the state’s worst drought in 60 years, New Mexico farmers and ranchers may get help from the Roundhouse ­– but at a hefty price for taxpayers. Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, calls for $120 million for the Interstate Stream Commission to “acquire, retire, protect and conserve” water in the lower Rio Grande basin, which has degenerated in some spots from a mighty river to a slow-moving stream due to the lack of rain and snow.   “We’re not getting water down to the southern part of the state, and we’ve got to find ways to addresss that,” Cervantes told New Mexico Watchdog. “One of the ways to address that is to import some water from outside the district. Another way to do that is acquire senior water rights.” “Water is a sleeper issue here in New Mexico,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said on the opening day of the session. “It is going to be — and already is — a major concern.” Nearly every chart, graph and measurement reflects the dire picture across New Mexico.
  • Virtually the entire state as in severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
  • The drought has hit New Mexico’s eastern plains the hardest, and according to the Palmer Drought Index, a measure that combines temperature and precipitation, the area has suffered through its driest two-year stretch since the drought of the 1950s.
  • Of the state’s 15 reservoirs, 14 are below 50 percent capacity, the University of Arizona’s Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) shows.
“It’s a devastating world out there,” said Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales,who is a farmer in the hardest-hit area of the state. “When we do get rain, we’re getting two-tenths, three-tenths of a inch of rains. It’s like putting water on hot grease.”...more

Cattle ranching moves north, west amid drought

The severe drought that scorched pastures across the Southern Plains last summer helped shrink the nation's herd to its smallest size in more than six decades and encouraged the movement of animals to lusher fields in the northern and western parts of the U.S., a new report shows. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that the U.S. inventory of cattle and calves totaled 89.3 million animals as of Jan. 1. That was down by 1.5 million cattle, or 2 percent, compared with this time a year ago. The agency says this is the lowest January cattle inventory since 1952. It does two counts per year, in January and July. The January report had been anxiously awaited because it shows the impact of the drought as it spread across the nation last summer and provides a state-by-state breakdown documenting the shift of animals north. Texas, the nation's largest cattle producing state, saw its herd shrink 5 percent to 11.3 million head amid a multi-year drought. Nebraska's herd shrunk 2 percent to 6.3 million animals as the drought spread north this summer. In Kansas, another hard hit state, the number of cattle shrunk 4 percent to 5.8 million animals as ranchers sold off animals as pastures dried up and the price of hay skyrocketed. By contrast, North Dakota ranchers expanded their herds by 6 percent to nearly 1.8 million head, while South Dakota's cattle numbers grew 5 percent to 3.8 million head. Montana, Idaho and Washington also boosted the size of their herds.  In New Mexico, cattle numbers are down for the third straight year and the number of ranchers looking to sell off their herds and get out of the business continues to grow. The overall herd is down to 1.3 million animals, the fewest since 1991. "It's trite, but it is the perfect storm," said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association. "We have no rain, there's no feed readily available, what is available costs too much and the cost of transportation has increased. We're just in a bad place."...more

Song Of The Day #1015

Continuing with Country Classics here is Buck Owens' 1959 recording of Above and Beyond.

Wolf numbers up in Arizona, New Mexico

Hated by ranchers and revered by environmentalists as a symbol of the American Southwest's wildness, the Mexican gray wolf has struggled over the past 15 years to find a foothold in the forests of Arizona and New Mexico. But federal wildlife officials announced Wednesday that the predator has made its biggest stride yet. Annual survey results show there are at least 75 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, the most since the federal government began efforts to return the wolves to their historic range in 1998. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional director Benjamin Tuggle attributed the boost in population to management efforts aimed at reducing conflicts between the wolves and ranchers and other rural residents. Over the years, the number of wolves has gone up and down, and Tuggle acknowledged that more work needs to be done to tackle the persistent challenges that have prevented the program from being more successful. "We recognize the largest threats to the populations that we have on the landscape continue to be genetic diversity and illegal mortality," he said. The plan this year, he said, is prevent more wolf shootings and to infuse more genetic diversity into the population. That could mean more releases of captive-bred wolves into the wild. The estimates released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are based on ground and aerial surveys done in recent weeks. There are at least 38 wolves in New Mexico and 37 in Arizona. Last year, the estimate stood at 58 for the two states. The survey also indicated there were three breeding pairs among the 13 packs that were identified. There were twice as many breeding pairs last year, but officials noted that 20 pups were born in 2012 and survived through the end of the year, marking the 11th consecutive year in which wild-born wolves bred and raised pups in the wild...more

Babbitt says Obama should use Antiquities Act to protect more lands

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt challenged President Barack Obama to make "vigorous" use of the Antiquities Act to preserve treasured landscapes and pare down the rush to lease public lands for oil and gas drilling. Babbitt, who headed the Interior Department when President Bill Clinton used that act to designate the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, said Obama must make up for the lack of land preservation in his first term and can’t try to compromise with House Republicans who have stalled any effort to name new wilderness. "The idea that you can civilize these people by making concessions is entirely wrong," Babbitt said. "All it does is up their demands for more. The best defense of the Antiquities Act is to use it. And the reason for that is by using it, we show the American people what we have and what the program is for protecting it." Clinton’s use of the century-old power in 1996 to unilaterally name the Grand Staircase monument enraged many southern Utah residents and Utah politicians who got little notice and no say in the matter. It’s still a sore subject to residents of the area. But Babbitt said preservation of federal land is a popular move, and one that unlike gun control, gay rights or immigration reform, isn’t controversial with the American public...more

Obama must save the nation's public lands from excessive energy demands, former Interior Secretary Babbitt says

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called for an end to the oil and gas industry's pursuit of public lands at a Feb. 5 Newsmaker press conference at the National Press Club. President Obama should "embrace a simple, powerful, and practical principle that will, once again, place the conservation of America's lands on equal ground with energy development," Babbitt said. While Babbitt praised some of Obama's energy and environmental policies on vehicle fuel efficiency standards, renewable energy and carbon emissions, he lashed out at oil and gas industry lobbyists and unnamed members of Congress for failing to support the nation's need to balance the protection of public lands with the need for oil and gas development. Babbitt said 30 bills aimed at protecting public lands await Congressional action. Many states have landmarks they want to honor and protect, he said. "What about conservation?" he asked. "Where is the balance?" He harked back to Theodore Roosevelt as one of history's greatest presidents for ensuring that balance. "Theodore Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to save the Grand Canyon. Herbert Hoover used it to save Death Valley ... Franklin Roosevelt to preserve the Grand Tetons," he said. He said Obama could use it to protect the Grande del Norte, the Oregon Mountain-Desert Peaks in New Mexico and other national treasurers in the state of Washington, California...more

Bishop Rebuts Remarks Former DOI Secretary Bruce Babbitt

WASHINGTON–House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) issued the following statement in response to remarks delivered today by former Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt encouraging the President to impose stricter federal lands policies that aim to limit multiple use and energy production: 
“I would probably be willing to accept the ‘one for one’ concept if we started at the position of parity. At present, little more than 37 million acres of BLM land have been leased for oil and gas development, whereas 293 million acres have already been set aside for conservation. This disparity clearly favors conservation but also reinforces the fact that deserving places are already being protected.  Instead of villainizing American energy developers, Secretary Babbitt should accept the fact that energy development, multiple use, and conservation are not mutually exclusive activities,” said Bishop.

BLM Acres Leased for oil and gas in 2012 =   37,792,212 acres  (source: Bureau of Land Management)
Federal Conservation Lands =   293.5 million acres  (source: Congressional Research Service)


“As Governor, Bruce Babbitt had a logical view of public land use in this country. However, as Secretary, Babbitt abandoned his former ideologies and launched a campaign to limit energy production and public land use in this country. In the final days of the Clinton Administration, Secretary Babbitt orchestrated one of the most historic assaults on Utah’s energy resources in the history of the state when he helped President Clinton establish the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument through executive fiat. This locked up the nation’s largest proven coal deposit. Suggesting that the President hurry up and use the Antiquities Act to unilaterally establish new land designations clearly illustrates that Secretary Babbitt’s agenda is purely political and has little to do with the vitality of states and communities. Otherwise, he would instead be encouraging these efforts to initiate at a local level, where most responsible and common sense land policies originate. I’m not opposed to new land designations, new national monuments, or even new wilderness areas, but they must be the result of collaborative efforts at the local level, and not an arbitrary formula concocted by a former presidential cabinet member turned liberal activist,” Bishop added.

In 1982, as Governor of the State of Arizona, Babbitt wrote that:

“By any conceivable measure of the relative federal and state interest, management of the public domain in the West is not fairly shared.

“This lack of management control—not lack of ownership—is frustrating planned growth in the West at the very moment it is needed most. It is as if each western state were split in two, with part administered from the state capitol and the rest from the Interior Department on ‘C’ street in Washington, D.C. neither the federal nor the state interests in the public lands are protected by this confused management structure. Greater shared management is needed; it can be achieved by increasing the responsibilities of state and local governments for the public domain.

“It is ironic that, while, the roots of the Sagebrush Rebellion may be traced to passage of FLPMA, the Act took significant strides toward increasing the influence of state and local government on federal land use planning activities. Section 202 of the Act establishes guidelines for BLM planning, including provisions requiring coordination with the planning and management programs of state and local governments. The Act mandates that the BLM consider state and local plans in designing resource management programs. Federal plans must be ‘consistent’ with state and local efforts ‘to the maximum extent [the Secretary] finds consistent with Federal law and the purposes of the Act.’ Inconsistencies between federal and nonfederal plans are to be resolved to the extent practical.”

Obama’s pick to head Dept of Interior gets the nod from environmentalists

Environmentalists have cheered the decision by the Obama administration to tap Recreational Equipment Inc. CEO Sally Jewell as secretary of the interior, a position to be vacated by Ken Salazar. “In Jewell, President Obama chose a leader with a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans – recreation, adventure, and enjoyment,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. “Jewell’s unique experience and her love of America’s outdoors will be invaluable to the stewardship of the waters, lands and wildlife we’ve been entrusted to protect for our children,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “America’s public lands and endangered species are in dire need of leadership,” Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement. “We hope Sally Jewell brings the same determination and transparency to running the Department of the Interior as she did to REI. Change at that agency is desperately needed.”...more

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

U.S., Mexico reach tomato deal to avert trade war

The U.S. government and Mexican tomato growers reached a tentative agreement on Saturday that reduces the threat of a costly trade war stemming from a U.S. decision last year to pull out of a 1996 bilateral tomato trade pact. "I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement on fresh tomato imports from Mexico that restores stability and confidence to the U.S. tomato market and meets the requirements of U.S. law,"€ U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez said in a statement. The draft agreement substantially raises the minimum "reference" price at which Mexican plum, cherry and other tomatoes can be sold in the United States and accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato market since the original agreement, Sanchez said. For some Mexican tomatoes, the new reference price is more than double the current such price, Sanchez said. The deal is expected to take effect on March 4, after a public comment period, he said...more

Great, now we'll pay twice as much for tomatoes. Who knew Obama was anti-Salsa?

PETA Slams Beyonce's Iguana & Python-Skinned Super Bowl Costume

People For the Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) aren't happy with Beyonce's choice of costume at Sunday night's Super Bowl halftime show. The black bodysuit, designed by Rubin Singer, was made out of python and iguana  skin and leather. According to the Daily News, a PETA spokesman said: "We would take a bet that if Beyonce watched our video exposes, she'd probably not want to be seen again in anything made of snakes, lizards, rabbits or other animals who died painfully. Today's fashions are trending toward humane vegan options, and Beyonce's Super Bowl outfit missed the mark on that score."Last month, the pop star was criticized for wearing a mink coat at President Barack Obama's inauguration...more

7-year-old playing an imaginary game at school gets suspended for real

A 2nd grader has been suspended from school in Loveland for a make believe game he was playing. The 7-year-old says he was trying to save the world. But school administrators say he broke a key rule during his pretend play. “I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” says Alex Evans, who doesn’t understand his suspension any better than he can pronounce it. “It’s called ‘rescue the world,’” he says. He was playing a game during recess at Loveland’s Mary Blair Elementary School and threw an imaginary grenade into a box with pretend evil forces inside. “I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh.’” The boy didn’t throw anything real or make any threats against anyone. He explains he was pretending to be the hero. “So nothing can get out and destroy the world.” But his imaginary play broke the school’s real rules. The school lists “absolutes” designed to keep a safe environment. The list includes absolutely no fighting, real or imaginary; no weapons, real or imaginary. Click here to see the Mary Blair “Absolutes”...more

Song Of The Day #1014

Ranch Radio will spend the rest of the week with Country Classics for those new listeners who weren't around during the early days of this feature. Today's selection is Carl Smith's 1959 recording of Tomorrow Night.

The tune is on his 5 CD box set Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Obama picks REI executive Sally Jewell to lead Interior Department

President Obama will nominate Recreational Equipment Inc. Chief Executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department in his second term, a White House official said.  The president will make the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the White House, the official said.  Jewell has served as the outdoor retailer's CEO since 2005. She started her career as a petroleum engineer working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado for Mobil Oil Corp. She then moved to the banking industry, before joining the REI board in 1996 and becoming chief operations officer four years later.  She has been credited with expanding the Washington state-based retailer's Internet operations and contributing company resources to environmental stewardship...more

Sally Jewell is environmentalist, business exec

She is as well known for her efforts with nonprofits that promote environmental health as she is for her role as president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. REI, based in Kent, Wash., is a retailer with $2 billion a year in sales of outdoor gear and clothing for camping, hiking, biking and canoeing.  The 56-year-old Great Britain native started her career as an oil industry engineer and has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington. She is married to Warren Jewell and they have two adult children.  But it is her reputation and award-winning work in the environmental conservation movement that may be more well known than her business acumen and executive leadership skills. She has won numerous environmental awards, including the 2009 Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Conservation from the Audubon Society, in addition to her work with Obama's "America's Great Outdoors Initiative," launched in 2011, according to her biography provided by REI. Last year, she received the Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Center and was a named a 2012 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. And in 2009, she participated in a White House meeting on health care reform, discussing REI's health benefits program.  She also is a board member of several nonprofit environmental groups, including the National Parks Conservation Association. According to REI's website, the company donates millions of dollars a year toward conservation efforts across the country. Several groups from the retail and energy industries have expressed support for Jewell's Cabinet nomination, such as the Retail Industry Leaders Association, where Jewell serves on the board of directors, and Western Energy Alliance, a nonprofit trade association of oil and natural gas companies. "We hope to see a better balance of productive development on non-park, non-wilderness public lands that enhances the wealth of America and creates jobs while protecting the environment," Western Energy Alliance President Tim Wigley said...more

Colorado ex-Gov. Bill Ritter on short list for both Energy and Interior posts

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is not only on the short list to replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu, but he is also in the running to take over the Interior Department when fellow Coloradoan Ken Salazar steps down. Ritter mentioned that he was being considered as interior secretary Monday night before making remarks at the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association conference. He didn’t go into detail about why he’s on what he called “a long short list” for the position, but he mentioned his experience as governor in dealing with energy development on public land as a possible factor. “We were very involved in looking at BLM,” he said, referring to the Bureau of Land Management, “and the intersection between BLM and fossil fuel extraction. I know a lot about that issue, and oil shale and issues around oil shale extraction on public lands. … It commanded a lot of our time, so I’m very interested in the issue in general.” “I actually think the big issue Interior is going to face is on gas and oil stuff,” he said. “I think that the country would be lucky to have him in either position,” said Pam Kiely, an energy consultant who works with environmental groups...more

Judges to hear Missouri River Breaks suit claiming inadequate protections

Judges with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Tuesday in Seattle in a lawsuit that charges the government with inadequately protecting the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument in Montana, which was created a dozen years ago for its “spectacular” features. The case centers on the level of protections that should be provided to national monuments, said Melanie Kay, an attorney with Earthjustice, which is representing the Wilderness Society, Oil and Gas Accountability Project, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument. “This is a spectacular monument,” Kay said. “The significance of the case is to ensure that monuments are given the protection that they deserve.” The conservation groups contend that the management plan OK’d for the Breaks monument plan doesn’t recognize the special characteristics that prompted the designation in 2001, Kay said. The outcome could affect future monument plans in the West, she said.  Conservation groups want the BLM redo its analysis and come up with a plan that offers more protection and less promotion of multiple use, she said...more

One of the dangers of a national monument by Presidential proclamation instead of going through the Congressional process.  It all depends on the language in the proclamation, which no one sees until it is done. On the Congressional side, it all depends upon the language in the Purposes section.

Mexican wolf back in captivity after weeks in wild

Romance is tough, even for endangered wolves. After just three weeks in the wild, federal wildlife managers say a male Mexican gray wolf was captured in New Mexico and removed from the wild after he failed to catch the attention of a breeding female. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the male wolf - dubbed No. 1133 - was intended as a new mate for the Bluestem pack's alpha female. His release in early January was timed to coincide with early-season breeding activities. The Arizona pack wanted nothing to do with the male wolf, and it ended up wandering into New Mexico. Officials say the male wolf has since been paired with a wild-born female at a captive breeding center. Future plans call for the pair to be released into the wild. AP

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Outgoing EPA chief regrets lack of dialogue with rural America

Departing Departing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson said she wished she had communicated better during her tenure with rural regions that felt victimized by the agency’s pollution rules. “If I were starting again, I would from day one make a much stronger effort to do personal outreach in rural America," Jackson said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters published Monday.  Clashes with rural GOP lawmakers characterized much of Jackson’s time in Obama administration, but Jackson has lamented what she says are inaccurate claims about the scope of EPA’s agenda. "Had I known that these myths about everything from cow flatulence to spilled milk could be seen as 'The EPA is coming to get you,' I would have spent more time trying to inoculate against that,” she said. Battles over the effect of EPA policy on the agriculture industry were just some of Jackson’s collisions with Republicans...more

Lack of dialogue?  Notice her reason for dialogue would be to "inoculate against that".  No, what she regrets is that she got her ass kicked on several of those issues, which hurt her credibility on the bigger things she wanted to accomplish.

Report: Climate change could devastate agriculture

Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations, a sweeping government report said Tuesday. An analysis released by the Agriculture Department said that although U.S. crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the once-resilient sector to overcome. In the report, researchers said U.S. cropland agriculture will be fairly resistant to climate change during the next quarter-century. Farmers will be able to minimize the impact of global warming on their crops by changing the timing of farming practices and utilizing specialized crop varieties more resilient to drought, disease and heat, among other practices, the report found. Crops also may benefit by increasing the use of irrigation when possible and shifting production areas to regions where the temperature is more conducive for better output. Depending on where they live, some farmers could benefit financially at the expense of others. By the middle of the century and beyond, adaptation becomes more difficult and costly as plants and animals that have adapted to warming climate conditions will have to do so even more — making the productivity of crops and livestock increasingly more unpredictable. Temperature increases and more extreme swings in precipitation could lead to a drop in yield for major U.S. crops and reduce the profitability of many agriculture operations. The reason is that higher temperatures cause crops to mature more quickly, reducing the growing season and yields as a result. Faster growth could reduce grain, forage, fiber and fruit production if the plants can't get the proper level of nutrients or water. The USDA review said climate change will affect livestock by throwing off an animal's optimal core body temperature, which could hurt productivity and limit the production of meat, milk or eggs. A warmer and more humid weather pattern is likely to increase the prevalence of insect and diseases, further diminishing an animal's health and output...more

Ammo shortage: 2008 and now

Tried to buy ammo lately?  Many people can’t find what they need, or what they find is very expensive.  Standard .223 FMJ is selling for more than a buck a round at some places – and that’s when you can find it.  Welcome to the 2013 ammo shortage. One of the never-ending debates with gun folks has been what kind of calibers to own in a disaster situation.  That disaster might be a widespread natural disaster, an incident of terrorism or even just a political disaster that causes a scarcity of shooting supplies.  It seems we are in a political disaster of sorts.  ”Never let a good crisis go to waste” is what this administration seems to practice, and they are quite content to push the disarming of Americans on the bodies of dead school children.  Shameful. Regardless on how we’ve got here, we are in an ammo shortage.  In the past, I have frequently heard three theories bandied about on the topic of ammunition selection for disasters.  While adopting one of these theories now is a little late to do you any good, thinking about them while observing the current firearms market might give you insight for future planning...more

U.S. Gun Owners Outnumbered Hunters by 5 to 1 in 2011

In 2011, gun owners in the United States outnumbered hunters by 5 to 1. There were 13.7 million hunters in the United States over age 16 -- 12.7 million of whom used rifles, shotguns or handguns for hunting, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That means hunters constituted only 15.9 to 18.1 percent of the estimated 70-80 million gun owners in the U.S. in 2011 -- the latest year for which statistics are available. In a Dec. 28 national report, USF&W said 13.7 million individuals over age 16 self-identified as hunters, and that 12.7 million used guns (shotguns, rifles or handguns) while hunting. Another 2.9 million hunters used antique muzzleloaders to hunt, but according to USF&W, there is overlap between this figure and other figures due to self-reporting. Around 4.5 million hunted with bows and arrows. The National Rifle Association (NRA), meanwhile, estimates there were between 70 and 80 million American gun owners as of January 2011. Those 70-80 million gun owners had in their possession almost 300 million firearms, about 100 million of which were handguns. A spokesperson for the NRA told that gun-owner estimates are conservative because they may not take into account those who inherit firearms from family members or other instances when gun owners wouldn't be reflected in data sets. According to a Gallup poll from October 2011, 47 percent of all Americans reported ownership of a gun in their home or on their property...more

Song Of The Day #1013

Ranch Radio's tune today is Can I by two very helpful gentlemen, George & Earl.


Some health problems may disrupt posting this week.

The Man Who Could Save America's Wild Horses

 by Andrew Cohen

When Ken Salazar announced his resignation earlier this month as Secretary of the Interior, it set off quivers of speculation among wild horse advocates about who might replace him in the post most important to the fate of the nation's vulnerable herds. Salazar, a longtime Colorado rancher, was never trusted by the wild horse community. Under his direction, the Bureau of Land Management has left the horses more exposed, literally and figuratively, than they've been in decades.

Very quickly, two main streams of thought emerged. Some horse activists worry that President Barack Obama will appoint Washington Governor Christine Gregoire to the post. The National Journal noted glowingly two weeks ago that as "a former head of Washington state's Department of Ecology, Gregoire is steeped in experience in energy and environmental issues. Her enthusiastic support for renewable energy has won plaudits from environmentalists."

But that's not how wild horse and other wildlife advocates necessarily see her. In November, in a Wildlife News piece headlined "Governor Gregoire's Troubling Livestock Legacy," the lead paragraph offered another view of the potential nominee:
Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is rumored to be a front-runner for nomination as Secretary of the Interior, where she would oversee millions of acres of public land. But a livestock "pilot" program she instituted in Washington, which fast-tracked the introduction of livestock grazing on Washington Wildlife Areas free of charge to ranchers, while running roughshod over the concerns of agency wildlife biologists, should give wildlife advocates pause.
The other theme that quickly blossomed after Salazar's resignation announcement was the notion that the best candidate to replace him is Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who has represented Arizona's 7th District in Congress since 2003. "He has been the most staunch supporter of wild horses in Congress for many years now," said Carol Walker, a renowned wild horse photographer who closely tracks the herds. Meanwhile, the folks at the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, representing 50 such horse organizations, quickly launched an online petition to support Grijalva's undeclared candidacy.

Judge denies Marin oyster company's bid to stay in business

A federal judge on Monday denied Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s bid to remain in business, upholding Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision that shuttered the commercial shellfish operation on the Marin County coast. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that she lacked jurisdiction to review the decision by Salazar, who declined to renew a 40-year lease that gave oyster farm operator Kevin Lunny the right to operate in Drake’s Estero. The National Park Service, based on Salazar’s decision, ordered Lunny to shut down the business by Feb. 28. The farm harvests 8 million oysters a year, worth about $1.5 million, from a 2,500-acre estuary designated as wilderness in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Lunny filed suit contending that Salazar’s order violated federal rules and was based on faulty science. The judge, who heard oral arguments in her Oakland courtroom on Jan. 25, said that even if she had jurisdiction Lunny’s arguments were unlikely to prevail. Wilderness advocates who sought removal of the oyster farm hailed the decision and said they hoped it will bring the divisive issue to an end...more

The minute Congress designated the Wilderness they were doomed.  No commercial enterprises allowed in Wilderness according to the 1964 Wilderness Act.  Even with special riders, over time they will get you.

Crow Indians’ Lawsuit Against F.B.I. Agent to Proceed

The court declined last month to reverse a 2010 federal court ruling that said the F.B.I. agent, Matthew Oravec, did not have qualified immunity from legal action, a protection usually given to government employees when acting in an official capacity — and a status sought by the Justice Department, which had appealed the ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. “The decision puts federal and state law enforcement agents on notice that they may be held personally liable if they discriminate against Indians in investigating crimes against them,” said Patricia S. Bangert, a Denver lawyer who is representing one of the families. The lawsuit is being closely watched around Indian country. Filed in 2009, it maintains that federal officials violated the Fifth Amendment, guaranteeing equal protection and due process rights. In its 2010 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court dropped several other F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors from the lawsuit but allowed the claim against Mr. Oravec to continue...more

Two Montana Bills Propose Zero Tolerance for Bison

Two new bills introduced in the Montana legislature would usher in a zero-tolerance policy for wild bison, potentially opening the way for a return to the shoot-on-sight practices of years past. Under a proposed bill in the state Senate, Department of Livestock officials would have the leeway to exterminate all wild bison. And a bill in the state House of Representatives would allow landowners to kill any bison that sets foot on private property. The legislation pits farmers angered by the huge bison’s foraging against a consortium of wildlife advocates, Native Americans and hunters who had hoped that rules banning the bison were easing. “Why do you want to spread this creeping cancer, these woolly tanks, around the state of Montana? We’ve got zero tolerance left in our bones,” said John Brenden, a state senator from Scobey, Mont., who is chairman of the Senate Fish and Game Committee and authored that chamber’s bill...more

Monday, February 04, 2013

A real gunfight in the Old West

 by William Perry Pendley

As defenders of the Second Amendment grapple with President Obama’s second-term onslaught against the “right to keep and bear arms,” a rural Colorado man is already in federal court in Denver challenging the Obama administration’s first-term refusal to adhere to the commands of the Constitution. Briefs have been filed and oral arguments await in Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Service, a gun rights case that could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Tab Bonidy, who lives in rural Colorado outside of Avon—a tiny town in Eagle County, two hours west of Denver — is licensed to carry a handgun and regularly carries one for self-defense from wild animals and criminals whenever he drives the 10 miles roundtrip from his home, where mail delivery service is not available, into Avon to collect his mail. On his arrival in Avon, however, he is barred by a Postal Service regulation from carrying his firearm, or even locking it in his car, on Postal Service property. The Postal Service regulation, which was renewed in 2007, provides: “Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation, no person while on Postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on Postal property, except for official purposes.”

This regulation, which carries a $5,000 fine or imprisonment for 30 days, or both, is much more sweeping than the federal statute, which prohibits private possession of firearms in all federal facilities, but exempts firearms carried “incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.” (A total ban exists for federal court facilities.) In addition to being much stricter than federal law, the Postal Service regulation was promulgated prior to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Heller v. District of Columbia, which recognized for the first time an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

In July 2010, Mr. Bonidy wrote the Postal Service and asked it to withdraw its regulation, which is overly broad and, given Heller, of dubious constitutionality. The Postal Service refused. Therefore, in October 2010, Mr. Bonidy, joined by the National Association for Gun Rights, filed a federal lawsuit in Denver. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, defending the Postal Service, have twice moved to dismiss the suit. The judge denied the motion both times.

The argument by the Department of Justice is straightforward. Second Amendment rights are limited to the home. Moreover, Postal Service property is sensitive because the Postal Service says so. Thus, its regulation is reasonable. In addition, in reviewing the Postal Service’s regulation, the district court should defer to the expertise of the Postal Service. Finally, argues the Obama administration, unlike most other constitutional protections, the “right to keep and bear arms” is not subject to strict or even intermediate judicial scrutiny. That is, the federal government must simply demonstrate its regulation is “narrowly tailored” to serve a “compelling governmental interest.”

Mr. Bonidy argues that the Second Amendment guarantees his right to carry a firearm for self-defense in case of confrontation, that his right to do so is clear from the Constitution’s text, which is illustrated by the English Common Law and that it has long been protected by the states. The Postal Service’s Avon property is hardly “sensitive,” especially in light of the Obama administration’s argument that any property that serves a “quintessential government function” is “sensitive” and hence a government-decreed “gun-free zone.” In fact, the Avon post office is open to the public and lacks any indication of being a sensitive place. Finally, although the Postal Service may have a compelling governmental interest when it seeks to protect lives and the mail, its total ban is not “narrowly tailored” to serve those interests.

In the long battle now beginning to preserve the Second Amendment, it is fitting that an initial and important skirmish occurs out West.

William Perry Pendley is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver.

Washington Times

Song Of The Day #1012

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we're doing some cajun style music with the Magnolia Sisters performing Keep A Knocking.  The tune is on their 16 track CD Aprés Faire le Boogie Woogie

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Looking to make a buck

 by Julie Carter

While the world’s economy seem to be in a free-fall, I’ve been doing some pondering of the same pattern I seem to see in my personal financial history along with a little help from my beloved government.

Always a short-term goal setter and long-term optimist, there have been a number of projects-for-profit that I’ve taken on through the years to help along that bottom line.

Among them were raising Blue Heeler puppies, raising colts, cattle and kids-- none of which ever became a viable profit center. Raising kids, while never actually thought of as a profit maker, should be something one can “bank” on in a kind of end-of-the-run security.

Blue Heeler puppies come 18 to a litter and quickly become giveaways in the parking lot of the next rodeo.

The colts are first cute, then fun, and all too soon become grown up horses that eat more and need broke to ride. The best ones either have a strong inclination to buck or come up mysteriously lame.

The bucking pay-off was that I met some nice orthopedic physicians and chiropractors along the way and the equine lameness kept some veterinarians viably employed -- both assuring a negative on my profit line.

The cattle business takes longer in which to go broke because the cycles offer the occasional profit (enticement). Using that to buy a few more head to help the next year’s bottom line, the profit and loss perpetuates itself until getting out of the business is not an option. Unless, of course, you want the bottom line to look like the national debt of Argentina.

The kids are an ongoing project. While I didn’t ever actually forget one at the laundromat, their experiences taught them to stay pretty close. Maybe it was my early threats to leave them in a basket on a doorstep before they were old enough to positively identify me. The last child in my brood got plenty of advice (warnings) from his older siblings and managed to keep a cell phone handy for emergency help.

Raising ranch kids throws a few more “opportunities” into the mix. One cowboy I know, as a young button, grew up working on ranches. He loved the work but particularly loved the horses. All of them.

He loved riding the ones that would buck, the ones that were a challenge and the ones that were, supposedly, off limits to him. One particular high-dollar stud horse, the pride and joy of the ranch owner, was such a horse. As soon as the rancher was out of sight, the lad and another young’un, would saddle the stud and ride away.

The stallion was not “kid” material and it was truly just dumb luck that kept the pair from getting killed.  Danger was near at hand from either the stallion or the owner had he caught them.

These same boys also loved to rope. They’d been warned about roping the cattle unless it was absolutely necessary. The boss told them if they needed to do something with their ropes, they could drag up firewood for the winter.

Like most cowboys, young or old, these two were broke. A new rope cost money and needed to be treated carefully, used expeditiously.

One year for Christmas the rancher gave each boy a new rope. In the spring, he happened to notice one of them was considerably frayed and had a small break in it.

He questioned the young cowboy carrying the worn rope, asking if he’d been dragging firewood with his new rope. Knowing he was in trouble for roping the cattle or for dragging firewood with a new rope, the lad elected for the truth.

“Why would I want to drag firewood when I have all these cattle of yours to rope?”

I haven’t given up my long-range optimism for a return on my investment in the kids. The last one has been sent off to college where his chosen career path will let him send money home to his mama.

Or, at the very least, it will help pay for the old folks home about which I know he’s been plotting with his sisters.

Julie can be reached for comment at