Thursday, October 22, 2020

Wildlife officials save deer stuck in 'dangerous fencing' in Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials saved a doe earlier this week that got stuck while trying to squeeze through an iron fence near Colorado Springs, prompting the department to warn residents of the state about the types of fencing they use in their yards. “These are dangerous fences," CPW stated on Twitter Tuesday morning. "Deer get trapped and die trying to go through. Or they get impaled and die trying to leap them." Wildlife officer Cassidy English responded to the scene with volunteer Brianna Fett. They tranquilized the doe before carefully removing her from the fencing. A tranquilization reversal drug was administered and the deer skipped off into the wilderness. Per CPW, wildlife-friendly fencing meets the following criteria:

• Highly visible

• Allows wildlife to easily jump over or crawl under

• Provides wildlife access to important habitats and travel corridors



What if the fence was put up strictly to keep wildlife out of your crops or your garden? It almost sounds as if wildlife has the first priority to use of your land.

How the pandemic has accelerated the next generation of farming

The food service industry is betting big on vertical farming as the pandemic ushers in a heightened awareness of food safety and cleanliness. Vertical farming, or the practice of cultivating crops in vertically stacked shelves and often in a controlled indoor environment, allows produce to be shipped to grocery stores, restaurants and other dining services in a matter of minutes. A new report by Allied Market Research shows that the global market for vertical farming crops is projected to reach $1.38 billion by 2027 with a compounded annual growth rate of 26.2% from 2021 to 2027. Last year alone, the industry was estimated to be around $212.4 million. Amid the trajectory for growth, the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the demand for fresh and locally grown produce. And as restaurants reopen, vertical farming has provided an innovative way to serve customers and ensure clean food. “The pandemic has certainly shed light on the fact that everybody is very aware of cleanliness and safety, and food is no exception,” CEO of Kalera Daniel Malechuk told FOX Business. “What vertical farming can offer is something that is local, something that hasn’t been in a journey to get to the end  or touched by a significant number of people and something that is grown in a clean room where the product is not subject to harmful elements or exposure.” Kalera, an indoor vertical farming company with hydroponic technology, is on track for rapid growth, particularly in high dense urban markets. After opening the largest vertical farming facility in Texas, the ag-tech company has plans to expand to Atlanta where it will be the highest production volume vertical farm in the Southeast, as well as Denver by 2021. Aside from its typical operations providing lettuce and microgreens to theme parks and restaurants, Kalera has also entered the grocery space marked by a deal with Publix that went into effect in April...MORE

Cowboys for Trump fends off financial disclosures

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Time is running out before Election Day as New Mexico election regulators push the political support group Cowboys for Trump to disclose its financial backers. The horseback-riding, New Mexico-based support group for President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged a U.S. District Court not to dismiss its lawsuit challenging state financial disclosure requirements. A trial could stretch into late 2021. The group was co-founded by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin to support Trump on a variety of conservative themes, including gun rights, border security and opposition to abortion. The group says less-onerous federal campaign finance laws override recent New Mexico legislation aimed a greater financial transparency for independent political expenditure groups. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, says Cowboys for Trump has ignored a binding arbitration agreement that found it was a political committee, subject to state registration and financial reporting requirements. The group, also known by its C4T insignia, compared its plight in new court filings to the travails of the NAACP during the civil rights movement as Alabama sought unsuccessfully for disclosure of names and local addresses for members of the nation’s oldest civil rights group. “The NAACP showed that past release of its membership lists had exposed members to economic targeting, loss of employment, physical coercion, and other forms of hostility,” attorneys for Cowboys for Trump said...MORE

Democrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans

A new bill from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and other lawmakers would bar the Trump administration from seeking to overturn the ruling ousting William Perry Pendley from his role as the de facto director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The legislation comes as the Department of the Interior has expressed interest in appealing the decision from U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris that determined Pendley had "served unlawfully ... for 424 days" and tossed major land management plans he oversaw in Montana. If the ruling stands, it could have major environmental consequences, giving groups a precedent for fighting other plans that open large swaths of public lands to fossil fuel development. “William Perry Pendley is not an appropriate choice to lead, work in, or advise any public land management agency due to his record prior to his employment at the Bureau of Land Management, and his continuing work there,” the bill states. Pendley, a controversial figure due in part to his history of opposing federal ownership of the lands he now manages, served at the department through a series of temporary orders, remaining in the job even after his nomination was withdrawn. He now serves in a deputy director role, but in recent interviews he has given conflicting responses to the court decision, saying both that he would respect the ruling and that it had "no impact, no impact whatsoever” on his role within the department...MORE

Barrett punts on climate, oil industry recusals in written responses

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett declined to weigh in on climate change or say whether she’d recuse herself from cases involving the oil industry in written responses to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of its Thursday vote on her confirmation. In response to several questions on climate, Barrett gave responses including “The Supreme Court has described ‘climate change’ as a ‘controversial subject’ and ‘sensitive political topic.’ ’’ “As a sitting judge, it would be inappropriate for me to weigh in further on the matter,” she added. The response echoed statements that Barrett made during her confirmation hearing last week, when she said that she did not hold "firm views" on climate change. She added that her opinion on climate is not “relevant” and called the subject a "contentious matter of public debate." Barrett also punted on questions about whether she’d recuse herself from oil companies other than Shell and why the American Petroleum Institute, which her father was involved with, was not on her recusal list. She said that four Shell entities were on her recusal list “in an abundance of caution” because her father worked for Shell Oil Company. She did not directly say why she didn’t similarly recuse herself from any other oil or energy companies or the American Petroleum Institute, saying that “the question of recusal is a threshold question of law that must be addressed in the context of the facts of each case.”...MORE


I would hardly call those a punt. More like a stiff arm of an out of bounds, late hit.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Rex Allen - Queen of the Rodeo (1947) is our tune today. THE WESTERNER

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Update for Readers: Good News, Bad News, Good News, ...the future?

In my last update, I told you about the fiasco concerning my surgery and that the EKG showed I'd had a heart attack.

I then took the EKG to my primary care doc. He said I had a type of electrical blockage that would always show up as a heart attack if not read correctly. He said the electrical signal starts at the top of the heart, kicks off the two top chambers, then goes to the lower chambers to fire them off. In my case, the electrical charge goes to the first two chambers, then short circuits out the left side of my heart, goes clear around the top of the heart and then down to the bottom chambers where it enters and fires them off. Just like every thing else in my life, I just can't seem to do things the way most people do them. He wasn't concerned, and told me to come back in six months.

Next I received a phone call from the nurse who works for the outfit that comes and fills the baclofen pump every six weeks or so (she wasn't my regular nurse, because the nurse who usually came had sliced up her hand while cleaning out chile pods). She wanted to know how much baclofen they had put in the new pump. Hell, I was knocked out and didn't know, but assumed they had filled it up. (This is a pretty big deal. The pump has an alarm on it. If it goes off I'm instructed to immediately go to the hospital. Given the dosage I receive, if not treated immediately I will go into convulsions and die). She was unable to reach the surgeon, so called the physician who manages the pump. He thought they had just transferred the baclofen from the old pump to the new. If so, I only had a few days supply left. Then, for some odd reason, I remembered there was a pretty young lady in the room who was a tech for Medtronics, the maker of the pump. The nurse checked this out, located the tech, who said they filled the pump, so I'm not due for a refill till late November.  

My annual trek to the urologist was today. Always glad to get my visit with that finger waggin' dude over with. However, got a phone call from his office this morning. The doc had been exposed to the coronavirus, so was cancelling all appointments and they would call to reschedule. With my luck, it will probably be around Thanksgiving, only it won't be the turkey that is getting basted.

Still having issues with health insurance, ira's, tsa's, and others, all related to paperwork concerning the loss of Sharon.

Been also spending a lot of time studying blockchain technology, crypto currencies, etc. in an effort to understand how they will affect us in the future.

All of this is offered to explain why, as I'm sure you've noticed, the posts to The Westerner have fallen off. Its also causing me to assess where I'm at right now. Here is a list of what I produce or work at every day.

1) The Westerner blog, 7 days a week
2} The email version of The Westerner,  5 to 6 times a week.
3) The Westerner Facebook page, 7 days per week
4) The Linebery Policy Center Facebook page, 7 days per week
5) The LPC Newsletter, intermittent.
6) I write a monthly column published in The NM Stockman and The Livestock Market Digest
7) Ranch Radio YouTube channel, 6 days per week.
8) Ranch Radio Facebook page, 6 days per week.
9) Fundraising and advisor to the NMSU rodeo program, intermittent. Currently serve on the search committee to hire a new rodeo coach.
That's a full load, and the recent complications in my life are making it hard to handle all this and still maintain my health and sanity. Things may smooth out, but right now I'm having to step back and weigh my priorities. We'll see what the future may bring, and I'll let you know what I figure out. 
Thanks to everyone for the well wishes.

Are you coming with me?


Monday, October 19, 2020

The Pandemic Has the Potential to Finally Transform Meat Processing in the U.S.

Monica Nickelsburg

...Business is also booming, in part, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened up new sales channels for Iowa farmers who use the slaughterhouse. Iowa joined a federal program earlier this year allowing farmers and ranchers to sell animals slaughtered under the supervision of state inspectors across state lines, bypassing a logjam created by the limited number of USDA-inspected slaughterhouses. The program allows Story City’s customers who farm in western Iowa to sell their meat at the bustling Omaha farmers’ market just a few miles across the border, an example of the type of regionalized food economy that the program aims to promote. Iowa is one of eight states admitted to the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program and one of 27 authorized for state-inspected slaughterhouses. Both programs of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) were designed to address a narrowing bottleneck in meat processing. Meanwhile, state and federal lawmakers are pursuing new grants and other regulatory fixes to spur a revival of small slaughterhouses. Their efforts are timely as the pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of a long and consolidated food chain and prompted more consumers to seek locally produced food. “I think the ideal model would be to adopt real, trustworthy inspection in the states, with local veterinarians, vet techs, and animal science grads providing inspection, allow trade among states, and let USDA, with their essentially non-inspection model, and emphasis on serving big multinational corporate interests, worry about imports and exports,” said Mike Callicrate, a Kansas-based cattle rancher and advocate for rural communities...MORE


Can't help but notice how changing to a centralized federal program has contributed to industry consolidation.

The widespread consolidation in the meat industry—four firms control more than 80 percent of the beef processing market, for instance—and federal laws requiring large animals to be processed at a slaughterhouse under the supervision of a USDA inspector have left many small meat producers in a bind. There are approximately 800 federally inspected livestock slaughterhouses in the U.S. and about 1,900 state-inspected or custom facilities. That’s down from nearly 10,000 meat processing plants in 1967, when the law mandating USDA inspection was passed.

Also note the legislative proposals. 

As the pandemic has shone new light on the failures of this system, U.S. representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) are aiming to encourage the development of more small- and medium-sized meat packing plants. In late September, they introduced the Strengthening Local Processing Act (SLPA) to do just that. When outbreaks of COVID-19 in large meatpacking plants led to temporary closures, it resulted in pork and beef shortages in stores and farmers having to euthanize their animals, Pingree says, “It became painfully clear that sometimes it’s better not to have everything consolidated.”...Currently, the USDA only allows custom slaughterhouses to process animals for personal consumption by their owner. If the agency were to begin allowing these facilities to be used for commercial sales, that would be a game-changer, she added. “Our members would be driving much [shorter] distances, which is better for their transportation costs. It’s better because it doesn’t stress out the animals, and usually farmers and producers feel that they have a stronger say in exactly how meat gets processed there.” Another bill first introduced in 2015 called the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act would also allow for that change. The bill’s sponsors re-introduced it this year as the pandemic underscored the problems created by a consolidated meatpacking industry.

Restoring Farmland to Nature Could Drastically Slow Extinctions, Fight Climate Change

 The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are intertwined: Storms and wildfires are worsening while as many as one million species are at risk of extinctionThe solutions are not small or easy, but they exist, scientists say. A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature, identifies a path to soaking up almost half of the carbon dioxide that has built up since the Industrial Revolution and averting more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinctions on land. The key? Returning a strategic 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature. It could be done, the researchers found, while preserving an abundant food supply for people and while also staying within the time scale to keep global temperatures from rising past 2 degrees Celsius, the upper target of the Paris Agreement. “It’s one of the most cost effective ways of combating climate change,” said Bernardo B.N. Strassburg, one of the study’s authors and an environmental scientist with Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the International Institute for Sustainability. “And it’s one of the most important ways of avoiding global extinctions.” ...A similar and complementary tool, The Global Safety Net, was released last month. It identifies the most strategic 50 percent of the planet to protect, filtering for rare species, high biodiversity, large mammal landscapes, intact wilderness and climate stabilization. A growing number of campaigns seek to address the world’s environmental emergency by conserving or restoring vast swaths of the planet. The Bonn Challenge aims to restore 350 million hectares by 2030. The Campaign for Nature is pushing leaders to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030... The study was requested by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty that aims to preserve biodiversity. One of the authors, David Cooper, is its deputy executive secretary. A recent report by the convention showed that world leaders had failed to meet their last round of targets. The United States is the only state in the world, with the exception of the Vatican, that has not signed the treaty...MORE

Judge tosses land management plans after ousting Pendley from role

A federal judge unraveled the work of former Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acting Director William Perry Pendley, throwing out land management plans in Montana in a case that could jeopardize the agency’s work elsewhere across the country. The late Friday ruling is a win for the state of Montana, with Montana-based District Judge Brian Morris cri1ticizing the Department of the Interior for “novel and last-ditch legal arguments.” It’s the second major decision in the case after Morris last month determined Pendley had violated federal vacancy laws by "serv[ing] unlawfully ... for 424 days" through a series of temporary orders. He gave the Department of the Interior 10 days to justify why it shouldn’t throw out many of the decisions Pendley The decision holds promise for environmental groups, who have a list of at least 30 land management plans overseen by Pendley they’d like to see reversed, many of which limit the scope of national monuments or open up significant portions of federal lands to oil and gas drilling. Pendley “had not been properly appointed to the position, and instead had exercised authority as acting BLM director through a series of unlawful delegations,” Morris wrote in reference to the maneuvers that kept him in the acting director role for over a year. “Any exclusive function of the BLM director performed by Pendley is invalid.” BLM said in a statement it will “fight this outrageous decision,” arguing the suit “comes at the expense of the great people of Montana who, for the time being, are subjected to decades old [resource management plans] that limit Montanans’ ability to work, recreate, and conserve our public lands.”...MORE

Supreme Court To Hear Cases Tied To Trump's Policies On Mexico Border

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear cases that involve the U.S. "Remain in Mexico" policy and the border wall, two of President Trump's most controversial attempts to limit migration across the southern border with Mexico. In one case, the justices will review a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from early 2020 that briefly forced the Trump administration to halt its practice of making thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern border wait in Mexico for the U.S. to process their claims. The Supreme Court allowed the policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, to remain in effect in March as the issue made its way through a legal back-and-forth. In the other case, Trump v. Sierra Club, the high court will hear a dispute over the administration's use of military funding to build sections of the president's long-promised border wall. Lower courts had frozen billions in funding, but the Supreme Court granted a stay in the summer of 2019 that allowed the government to spend money from the Defense Department budget to build parts of a wall along the border with Mexico...MORE

AFBF: Estate Taxes Are A Threat to Family Farms

 ...Farms with assets above the estate tax exemption often must liquidate some of those assets to meet estate tax obligations, which can reach as high as 40% of the taxable amount. Estate taxes are a particular concern for farmers and ranchers because they are based on the market value of the asset; given the consistent appreciation in agricultural land and assets, this can be very high for farm and ranch families. A limitation on the estate tax exemption means that each year, fewer and fewer farm families will be protected from the estate tax– a clear risk to the continuity of family farms.

...During 2020, the national average value of farm real estate, including all land and buildings on farms, was $3,160 per acre, unchanged from 2019’s record high. Based on this, it would take approximately 3,700 acres to reach the current $11.58 million estate tax exemption.

Importantly, over the last decade, the value of farmland in the U.S. has increased by nearly 50%, or $1,010 per acre. Given that increase, it would take 32% fewer acres to reach the estate tax exemption level in 2020 than it would have in 2010.

Based on the most recent Census of Agriculture, more than 74,000 family farmers were operating 2,000 or more acres in 2017, suggesting that approximately 3.6% of the more than 2 million family farms could potentially have farm assets that exceed the estate tax exemption. These 74,000 farms operate more than 449 million acres, indicating that nearly 50% of the farmland in the U.S. could face increased liquidation pressure upon the transfer of assets at death.

Realizing that on average 15% of total farm assets come from assets other than real estate such as farm machinery or livestock, these numbers actually understate the number of family farms that could have assets that exceed the estate tax exemption. If the current $11.5 million estate tax exemption level is not made permanent, in 2026 the estate exemption would fall to an inflation-adjusted $5 million. In 2020 dollars, the $5 million exemption level would be approximately $5.8 million, pushing the threshold for triggering the estate tax down to approximately 1,800 acres. When evaluating this threshold on a state-by-state level, more than 156,000 farms, or nearly 8% of farms would be impacted. These farms account for more than 582 million acres, indicating that as much as 65% of farmland could be operated by farms above the inflation-adjusted $5 million estate exemption level.


Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Jim Stringer & The AM Band with Wrong John (2016). THE WESTERNER