Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Houston rodeo generated $227 million for local economy, study shows

Houston’s rodeo generated $227 million in total economic impact this year, according to a study by Economic Analytics Consulting commissioned by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The event supported nearly 3,700 direct jobs. The analysis measures new spending in the Houston metro area generated by visitors outside of the Houston area and spending by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Inc. More than a million individual people attended the rodeo this year, not counting those who visited more than once. The rodeo, a tradition in Houston since 1931, was held at NRG Park from the end of February until mid March. A rodeo competition and concert was held daily. Total economic activity generated by the rodeo, which includes spending by local residents, was $391 million, the study found. In 2019, total attendance exceeded 2.5 million, according to the report, and 27 percent of attendees were from outside the Houston region. The 2019 rodeo set the record for highest concert attendance — twice. First, Cardi B set the record with 75,580 attendees. Then, the George Strait concert broke the record with 80,108 attendees. link

Supreme Court rejects challenge to Trump’s steel tariffs, leaving them in place

The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it will not yet hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel imports into the United States. The news was announced in an order with no noted dissents. The court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a March decision from the U.S. Court of International Trade which allowed for Trump’s tariffs. The case was brought by a group of companies in the steel industry who say they are harmed by the 25% tariffs on steel imports that Trump ordered early last year. Those tariffs have collected approximately $4.5 billion so far, the group wrote in a brief with the top court, a figure that “significantly understates the irreparable and ongoing harm” to their businesses. The plaintiffs, which include the American Institute for International Steel, are arguing that the law Trump invoked to impose the tariffs effectively granted him too much leeway to circumvent Congress, a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers. The law, Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, imposes no meaningful limits on the president’s authority, they argued. The AIIS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Congress has rebuked the president over his use of tariffs, but has so far not taken meaningful legislative action to limit his authority...MORE

Captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups released to 'foster dens' in Arizona and New Mexico

Twelve Mexican gray wolf pups that were born in captivity have been released into the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, where officials hope the pups will grow up alongside other wolves as part of an effort to rescue the species from extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department placed the pups in "foster dens," where a female wolf had recently given birth. Scientists from the agencies and other groups participating in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan believe introducing the pups into a wild population could help increase the population's genetic diversity. Five of the young wolves were placed into wild dens in Arizona and seven were placed in New Mexico between April 18 and May 10. The dens are in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area, millions of acres of forest land shared between the two states. Maggie Dwire, deputy Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said lots of planning and a bit of luck were required. The captive and wild wolves had to be born within days of each other in order for the release to work. "This has proven successful to get new genetics into the wild," Dwire said, adding that one of the goals of the program is to boost the wild population and to hopefully make the wild packs less inbred...MORE

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mexico sends nearly 15,000 troops to the US border

Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 troops to the US-Mexico border, according to the country's Secretary of Defense Luis Sandoval. "In the northern part of the country, we have deployed a total of almost 15,000 troops composed of National Guard elements and military units," Sandoval announced today in Cancun. Approximately 2,000 National Guard members have already been deployed to Mexico's southern border with Belize and Guatemala, he noted, adding to the 4,500 troops already spread across the area. Many migrants begin their journey in Central America and even further south, passing through Mexico on their way toward the United States...MORE

Agriculture secretary: Farmers 'are one of the casualties' of Trump's trade war

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledged this week that farmers are getting hurt by President Donald Trump's trade war, but expressed optimism that a deal would be struck with China by the end of the year. American farmers "are one of the casualties here with trade disruption," Perdue told CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich in an exclusive interview. "We knew going in that when you flew the penalty flag on China, the retaliation, if it came, would be against the farmer," he added. US soybean, corn, and wheat growers have been battling tariffs from China for nearly a year now. Beijing imposed those duties in retaliation to tariffs put on Chinese products by the Trump administration. The tariffs made those American agricultural products more expensive for Chinese importers, and private buyers have mostly stopped buying American-grown soybeans or wheat. Many farmers stood behind Trump's mission to get a better trade deal with Beijing that addresses longstanding issues with what they say are unfair trading practices. But some farmers started to grow impatient after Trump escalated tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods last month, signaling the two countries weren't as close to striking a deal as some had expected. The news sent commodity prices plummeting...MORE

Pendleton Round-Up to begin demolition to expand footprint

PENDLETON, Oregon – The Pendleton Round-Up Association will be demolishing some of the buildings on land it owns west of Southwest 18th Street. President Dave O’Neill says the tavern and a few houses will be torn down. “It’s an area we’ve targeted as a place where we were able to grow our footprint and expand to allow for further parking and other amenities we need to have additional events,” he said. O’Neill said the work will be finished before Round-Up 2019. “Some of those properties will be demolished in the next few weeks, so you’ll see a flurry of activity,” he said. “It’ll be a nice addition to our campus.” For the short term, O’Neill said the lots will be leveled and graveled. The short-term use will be to add parking for contestants and stock contractors, bringing them closer to the Round-Up Grounds. In turn, he said, that will free up parking in areas that are farther away from the campus that could be used for public parking. The city of Pendleton also owns land in that area, and one of the long-term plans is for Blue Mountain Community College to build a regional agricultural training facility which will include an indoor rodeo arena in that location. link

How environmental analysis inadvertently drains the Forest Service budget

During a visit to her native Washington State, U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen told an audience her agency was failing to meet the challenges of unhealthy forests and catastrophic wildfires. She admitted the agency is not reducing the risk, and “America’s forests are in crisis.” With at least 80 million acres of National Forest System lands at risk of severe fire, Chief Christiansen understands the depth of this crisis and is working to change the culture and practices of her agency. The Forest Service took an important step forward by releasing proposed changes to modernize how the agency complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This environmental law, initially approved by Congress in 1969, requires federal agencies to report the potential environmental effects of proposed actions. Most agencies comply with this law without draining their financial and human resources, even for major infrastructure projects. Opponents of forest management are predictably attacking this effort in partisan terms, though the Forest Service’s approach may bring the agency in closer compliance with existing regulations issued by the Obama administration’s Council on Environmental Quality. And if the agency successfully completes this process, the Forest Service will be better positioned to utilize many of the new tools and resources that have been recently approved by Congress with bipartisan support. Changes are needed because the Forest Service has been negatively influenced by anti-forestry activism and the real and perceived threat of litigation over NEPA compliance. Consequently, the agency developed a risk-averse culture, requiring its people to spend more time preparing paperwork when they should be actively managing and mitigating the threats to multiple-use public lands, especially those that have been identified as suitable for timber harvests. The Forest Service’s current NEPA compliance guidelines date back to 1992, at a time when timber harvests and other management activities dramatically declined on national forests. Anti-forestry groups have exploited NEPA to bring forest projects to a halt, preventing the agency from reducing fuel loads and promoting the natural resiliency of the forests. In the past 30 years, forest science and technology has improved significantly, and public lands managers understand the benefits of logging, thinning and prescribed burning for healthier forests, improved wildlife habitat, and cleaner air and water for nearby communities...MORE 

Nick Smith is executive director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots coalition that advocates for active management of America’s federally-owned forests.

Inadvertent? I don't think so. The lawsuits are filed to limit or prohibit certain activities on federal land. Those lawsuits have been highly successful, and resulted in the layer upon layer of analysis in NEPA documents. 

...it typically takes the agency over three years to complete an environmental impact statement and over two years to complete an environmental assessment.  It’s estimated the Forest Service spends more than $356 million annually to conduct NEPA analysis and compliance requirements on forest management projects.
Now add in the costs and time frames for the BLM, NPS, USFWS, BIA, EPA, Dept. of Transportation and so on, and you begin to see the magnitude of the costs and delays involved in implementing this one federal law.

Also on the "cost" side, would be the thousands of small or medium sized projects that are not even attempted because of the cost and time frames incurred.

This is not an "inadvertent" outcome. It is the result of highly planned and well funded actions by the environmental community, and none of this will change until Congress amends and clarifies the law.

Rep. Bob Bishop, former chairman of the House Resources Committee, stated in 2017:

"... we can both better protect the environment and allow for thorough review and processing of critical economic, energy and infrastructure activities in a timely manner. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. But it simply won't happen unless Congress acts to clarify NEPA's intent, scope and limitations.
Problem is, Congress has done nothing to amend the act, and as a result of the 2018 elections, is unlikely to do anything positive in the near future.  

Judge sides with 1st Amendment after gun shows banned

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bencivengo issued a temporary order to stop the Del Mar Fair Board from enforcing a recently enacted moratorium on gun shows at the fairgrounds. Disputes over gun rights typically center on the Second Amendment, which grants Americans the right “to keep and bear arms.” This case, however, focuses on the First. Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which filed the lawsuit, said he’s “delighted” with the ruling. “At a time, and in a state, where law-abiding gun owners seem under constant attack, having a federal judge side with our complaint validates our efforts to protect constitutional and civil rights,” he said. SAF is joined by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, B&L Productions, Inc., Crossroads of the West, South Bay Rod and Gun Club, Maximum Wholesale/Ammo Brothers and five private citizens in the court case. The complaint alleged the fair was placing “overly burdensome requirements” on those who want to hold gun shows there, imposing an unreasonable restriction on speech. It alleged the fair purposely violated the free speech rights of the plaintiffs and its actions constitute prior restraint on speech. At the time, Gottlieb explained: “Crossroads has operated popular gun shows in California, including at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. These gatherings are more than just an opportunity to exhibit, buy and sell firearms, they are opportunities for like-minded citizens to meet and discuss gun safety, firearms politics and current or proposed firearms laws and regulations.”...MORE

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

For Swingin' Monday we have Pee Wee King & His Golden West Cowboys - Ragtime Annie Lee. Recorded at RCA studio A in Chicago on Nov. 4, 1951. That's Redd Stewart on fiddle and vocals, Shorty Boyd on fiddle and Gene Engle on piano. The Westerner www.thewesterner.blogspot.com


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Swappin' recipes

Julie Carter

Common cowboy cooking is widely acclaimed to be the very best, spiciest, most original and filling of all cuisines of the world. At least that's what the cowboys will tell you.

For the rest of us mere mortals, skepticism is a healthy recommendation.
However, in the spirit of fun, I want to share with you a couple of cowboy recipes provided by the already famous for his cooking, Dan the Team Roper and his roping partner Jess.

Speed in preparation is the first priority for Dan, a confirmed bachelor. Second on the list of importance would be a meal that can be shared with his trusty cow dog, who also helps him cook.

Dan and his dog had been on a steady diet of burritos made of Spam, Velveeta and mayo.

His preferred delicacy had always been pig-lip baloney, but he had not been able to find the delicacy anywhere this side of the Mississippi. He was heartbroke about that.

Learning by experience, Dan recommended using the genuine Velveeta because in his vast experience with cheeses, the cheap substitutes would not work.

After roping practice, he and Jess were comparing notes from the long-ago time when Jess had also been a bachelor.

Chili and eggs was Jess's masterpiece, but both agreed that only Wolf Brand Chili would qualify for the main ingredient.

The number of eggs to be added was dictated by the number currently in the icebox.

Optional ingredients would include ranch style beans, pork and beans, potatoes, if any were cooked, onions, the occasional stray sock or whatever else got in the way.

It was especially critical that the chili be put in an iron skillet, thoroughly cooked down to the burrito-fold stage before adding the eggs. This would result in a scrambled look. If added too soon, the eggs would vanish.

Several likely pointers of this nature were passed on.

The next evening Dan reported that both he and the dog gave this meal a five-star rating.

Encouraged that Dan appreciated his culinary achievements, Jess imparted his recipe for fried deer meat, instant mashed potatoes and gravy thick enough to make everything stick together.

It was understood that it, also, would all be wrapped in a flour tortilla.

As the roping practice progressed, the cooking lessons kept pace, and then the subject of milk came up.

Dan had tried powdered milk with no luck. The dog was pretty picky, and so was he.

Once again, he was adamant it was necessary to buy the good brand and possibly, even necessary, to mix it according to the directions. That depended on the available time.

On those days when it was a good idea to start out with actual food for breakfast instead of an adult beverage, milk was a essential.

Jess was a planner and a logical, organized man. Willingly, he shared his secret time-saving breakfast method with Dan.

It was necessary that perhaps some female had left behind a collection of small Tupperware dishes for this efficiency. Then one could put a measured portion of Grape-Nuts, powdered milk and sugar in each of the containers, seal them and stack.

Then the only additional ingredient would be water.

The major drawback to this gourmet meal was it was not one to eat while driving, and the dog didn't like Grape-Nuts.

However, it was noted by Jess's wife that he had somehow quickly overcome his bachelorhood eating habits and adapted quite nicely to her cooking.

Although on stressful days, he still preferred Wolf Brand chili and eggs.


Viva Mexico?

High Heels, et al
Viva Mexico?
Sprigs advocates physical revolution
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            When was the last time 94% of the United States Senate voted for anything?
            There is no doubt something in the archives might indicate such favor among the upper chamber thinkers, but it certainly doesn’t reverberate across the landscape as anything obvious. They can’t agree on much. In fact, they can’t even come out of the shadows and agree to pay themselves what they think they are worth. Apparently, they are only embarrassed about how that would look on the basis of what they are getting done.
They wouldn’t tell the truth anyway. You can only imagine the outcome. If they were each marched to the microphone and told to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help their most demanding contributor, they would cross their fingers, clear their throats, and start pontificating.
The result wouldn’t be scientific. It would be corrupted. A more quantitative approach would be better, but there isn’t a known algorithm to actually compute what they are worth. If there was, they wouldn’t agree to apply it, and certainly not 94% of them.
            After all, when the spinner rolled to a stop, it would be awkward to note that the outcome might be zero or even negative.
            Viva Mexico?
            The Mexican Senate, however, voted 114 to four (with three abstentions) to ratify the USMCA, the trade deal to replace NAFTA. That’s pretty impressive especially when the wide range of those politicos are arrayed. They have nine political parties represented in the Mexican Senate unlike the two and a half represented within our U.S. crew. The fact is the Mexicans got serious when our President suggested to bésame el trasero and walk from the existing treaty.
            It is a clear indicator there is one thing the Mexicans do understand and that is when a real jeffe orders drinks you’d better drink and dispense with lingering allegiance to any superfluous nonsense.
            It appears to be the same case with the about face on that country’s stance on policing its southern border after our President threatened tariffs if they didn’t get the lead out and do something about discouraging the hordes of cross border invaders. Their actions and the indicators now seem to suggest that Texans and Arizonans won’t have to assume their eminent constitutional discretion from Article 1, Section 10 [3] of the Constitution to refrain (from war) unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
            Of course, New Mexico and California would not dare defend their sovereign citizenry in the same manner. Their credo is come one and come all! Comrades unite. Our homes are your homes and our lines may be long but the gettin’ is still good!
Those states believe in sharing the taxpayer wealth and treasury with presumptively loyal voters.
High Heels, et al
Something does seem to be happening, though, in even the most liberal bastions of leadership where the cross-border invasion is not a coffee shop discussion but continuing back yard experience. Take Del Rio, Texas for an example.
An openly gay mayor, Bruno Lozano, is at the helm of the border city of 40,000 and he isn’t happy about the invasion. Known as Ralphy to his friends and High Heels to some of his political foes (it seems the town’s highest office holder has a propensity to wear high heels on such occasions as Veteran Day Parades and quinceaňera styled high school 15 year reunions), the mayor is furious about the United States congress sitting on its duff in the matter of the border assault.
Originally intending to educate northerners that the border is not a war zone, he is now attempting to defend it from becoming a larger threat and transit zone for migrants from all over the world. Like every border town, Del Rio simply cannot drain its limited resources on expanding services. Located dead center in the fastest growing smuggling corridor, something has to give, and it’s no longer correct thinking cowboys that have the corner on such a conclusion.
Lozano is saying “Enough is enough!” He is demanding federal action and recently made his position clearly known to Texas Senator John Cornyn’s staff. Word is that he ripped ‘em a new one.
Well, good for High Heels. Who would have thought that the Mexican Senate and a Queer news devoté would have taken positive action on the border before our dysfunctional United States Congress!
Sprigs advocates physical revolution
            Joe Biden, currently the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, made remarks at the recent Moral Action Congress of the Poor People’s Campaign that sounded like open revolution. Asked how he would deal with congress and the Senate’s Mitch McConnell specifically, his words were clearl and to the point.
            “There are certain things where it just takes brass knuckle fight,” Biden said. “Let’s start a real physical revolution if you’re talking about it.”
            Can any of us imagine the reaction of the press and the liberal world if our president, Donald Trump, had made that comment? “Physical revolution” cannot be interpreted any way other than the obvious. Trump would have been crucified, and any and all impeachment talk and momentum would have accelerated. Biden has been given a pass and any need to walk the comment back from backlash would be done as a condition of subservience from the press.
            But, the fact is revealed. The truth is no longer silent or implicit. The front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president of these United States has advocated physical revolution. It is without doubt shared by his handlers and his advocates.
            It is also made manifest in his party’s actions in obstruction of every action taken by this President. The border problem is the dominant issue of our day. Even the Mexican senate understands.
            Biden may get his wish.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Holy cow”.

DuBois column - Lawyers, grazing permits, wildlife corridors and beasts on the ballot

Lawyers, grazing permits, wildlife corridors and beasts on the ballot

Attorney’s fees

According to a recent memo from Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani the Interior Department will start publicly listing attorney’s fees paid out for legal settlements. The memo says this information will be available on a new page of Interior’s website. Environmental groups have been very successful in filing these so-called citizen suits under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. A 2016 investigation by the Daily Caller News Foundation found that during the Obama administration, “federal agencies paid out $49 million for 512 citizen suits” filed under those three laws.

Environmentalists have also sued under the Equal Access To Justice Act. That act, however, limits attorney’s fees to $200 per hour. It also stipulates the fees can only be awarded to entities with less than $7 million in total assets.

There are no such limits on these type of lawsuits under the Endangered Species, Clean Water and Clean Air acts. Earth Justice, with net assets of $68 million, received $2.3 million from the Dept. of Interior during Obama’s reign. The Center for Biological Diversity, which has sued the Trump Administration 100 times and has assets of $19 million, also received taxpayer funded fees according to the 2016 investigation.

Congrats to the Department of Interior for the new transparency on this issue. Perhaps it will spur action by Congress. Let’s also recognize everyone owes a debt of gratitude to Karen Budd-Falen. It was her 2009 memorandum “Environmental Litigation Gravy Train” that first brought national attention to these payouts. You can draw a straight line from that memorandum to the recent secretarial order to publish these figures on Interior’s website. Thank you Karen, and a long-overdue congratulations on your appointment as deputy solicitor for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Hammond’s grazing permit

The poor Hammond family. Father and son, Dwight and Steve, for taking action to defend their private property (selective burns), were found guilty of being “terrorists” and sentenced under an anti-terrorism law. They served their sentence, but BLM appealed to the Ninth Circuit because the mandatory minimum sentence had not been met as established in the anti-terrorism act. The feds won, and back to jail the Hammonds went. BLM employees were so vindictive against the Hammonds they even assumed false names and used government computers to disparage the Hammonds on social media platforms.

President Trump finally stepped in and pardoned the Hammonds, and former Secretary of Interior Zinke, in one of his few pro-grazing actions, ordered the BLM to renew the Hammond’s grazing permit.  This has the enviros furious, so they have, of course, filed a lawsuit.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, and Center for Biological have sued to stop the livestock turn out, alleging violations of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), among others. They claim a violation of FLPMA because the Hammonds don’t meet the “satisfactory record of performance” required by the act and its regulations. They allege a violation of NEPA because the permits were issued using a categorical exclusion, and they claim a violation of the ESA because specific management thresholds were not included to protect the endangered sage grouse.

In other words, they’ve thrown the entire kitchen sink at this hoping something will stick. Problem is, these folks have an excellent record of finding something that will “stick”.

Wildlife migration routes

The National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) is working to have former Secretary Zinke’s order 3362 on wildlife corridors rescinded. The NCBA says the order has resulted in “prioritization of big-game habitat conservation and restoration,” and “inappropriate impacts to adjacent private lands.” They further say elements of Zinke’s order “typically result in inappropriate restrictions on grazing and ranching activities.”

This is no surprise to me. In February of last year I wrote:

The order calls for "prioritizing active habitat management." That would mean such management or projects would have priority over other uses or projects, such as livestock grazing. The order also says it is "crucial that the Department take action to harmonize state fish and game management and Federal land management of big-game winter range and corridors." It will be interesting to see who "harmonizes" who. We know what that has resulted in historically. 

It is nice to see the big boys finally catching on.

Colorado wolf vote

High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA), Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and other wolf advocates want to see wolves in Colorado. This time they are taking their efforts straight to the voter, by way of the ballot. “Colorado is the gap,” said ecologist Delia Malone of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project. “We not only need wolves ecologically, but wolves need Colorado to restore connectivity between the population in the Northern Rockies and the populations in New Mexico and Arizona.” If passed, the resolution (Initiative 79) would require the Colorado Wildlife Commission prepare a plan to introduce gray wolves on federal lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023.

Norteños should be watching this closely.

USDA economists

Ag Secretary Sonny Purdue has announced the majority of the economists in the Economic Research Service will be relocated outside of the Washington, D.C. area. Purdue defends the move and denies they are political. “We don’t undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to improve performance and the services these agencies provide,” Perdue said.  “We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C.” Current and former employees have said the specialties of those being asked to move correspond closely to the areas where economic assessments often clash with Trump's policies, including tax policies, climate change and farms. “This was a clear politicization of the agency many of us loved for its non-partisan research and analysis,” a current ERS employee has stated, claiming that department leaders picked those whose work was more likely to offend the administration and forced them to move “out or quit.”

Personally, I think Secretary Perdue should call this relocation “Operation Rawhide”.

Head’em up and move’em out Mr. Secretary.

Until next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation

This column first appeared in the June editions of the NM Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest 

Also available on the internet here