Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PRV Positive Feral Hogs in Eddy County

Our Wildlife Disease Biologist, Justin Stevenson, reported this today.

We have a positive feral hog PRV (pseudorabies) sample from Eddy County. This disease is not a human health concern but is the one that will kill cattle, sheep, canines and other carnivores if they are exposed to it. It can live in water on feed and in the air for a certain length of time making it a bad one. It doesn't usually kill feral hogs that are infected with it but will kill domestic swine exposed to it.

This is the second county with PRV we've found. Seven feral hogs, all from the same area in Quay county, tested positive for PRV last fall.

Questions should be directed to Justin at 505-346-2640.

Alan May
State Director
8441 Washington St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Independent Audit Panel Slams U.N.'s Climate Group

Acknowledging flaws in its reports and growing public skepticism toward the theory of manmade global warming, the United Nations hired an independent review panel in March to audit its climate-science arm. The group found plenty of problems. The InterAcademy Council, an independent group of scientists representing agencies from around the world, presented the findings of its five-month investigation Monday morning at the United Nations. The group took issue with the structure, methods and leadership of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the group responsible for a 2007 report that erroneously forecast the imminent melting of Himalayan glaciers, the rate of melt of polar ice caps and dwindling Amazon rainforests. "The IPCC has raised public awareness of climate change, and driven policymakers," said Harold Shapiro, chair of the IAC Committee to Review IPCC and former president of Princeton University. But the controversies that have erupted, and revelations of errors, have put the group under the microscope. "We recommend some significant reforms," he told the U.N..."We found in the summary for policymakers that there were two kinds of errors that came up -- one is the kind where they place high confidence in something where there is very little evidence. The other is the kind where you make a statement … with no substantive value, in our judgment."...more

Corny Capitalism

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued another one of those announcements read exclusively by government bureaucrats and green policy wonks. The EPA decided to delay a decision to increase the concentration of ethanol legal in gasoline from 10% to 15%. So-called E15 fuel would have to wait for approval until November. It was a little-read regulatory decision that barely made a splash in the media. But it was also a rock thrown at Washington's hornets' nest of food and agricultural lobbyists. "We are disappointed," warned food giant Archer Daniels Midland. "We find this further delay unacceptable" and a "dereliction of duty," harrumphed ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy. By delaying the decision, the EPA punted on a crucial decision. The pressure brought to bear against the agency by the agriculture industry has been incredible. It's also been applied well; the EPA will most likely still approve E15 fuel in the fall. That's bad news for any American who likes to drive. In a country powered by the automobile, E15 is an enormous question mark. Since the 1970s when ethanol was first regulated by the feds, concentrations of alcohol in fuel above 10% have been illegal. But the government, lost in a dream world where cars can run on corn, has tied itself in regulatory knots trying to force ethanol into the fuel supply. The history of ethanol is a sad torrid affair of crony capitalism and green fantasies. By jumping in bed with the agriculture industry and blindly slapping on new regulations, the government artificially propped up an industry and put itself in a bind from which there may be no return...more

Obama administration sides with utilities in Supreme Court case about climate change

The Obama administration sided with major utility companies in a Supreme Court case about climate change on Thursday, angering environmentalists who say that the administration's broad argument could hurt their ability to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or even to bring other lawsuits. Administration officials said the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory moves to restrain carbon dioxide emissions made the lawsuit unnecessary, and the acting solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to return the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. But environmentalists said that the administration had talked about - but not imposed - limits on emissions from existing power plants. Moreover, environmental groups said, the government's brief went beyond that, employing arguments that threatened to undercut a basis for legal action that have been used for a century, since Georgia sued over damage a Tennessee copper smelter was inflicting on Georgia's forests. "We're very angry and very disappointed that they would take this tack," said David Doniger, policy director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council...more

Wyoming officials not inclined to act on wolves

Wyoming remains committed to classifying gray wolves as predators that can be shot on sight across most of the state despite complaints that its position will stop hunting seasons in neighboring Idaho and Montana. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula, Mont., early this month rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s move to turn over wolf management to Idaho and Montana while leaving them listed as an endangered species in Wyoming. Molloy’s decision blocks wolf hunts that Idaho and Montana had planned for this fall. And ironically, Molloy’s decision also effectively leaves Wyoming — whose wolf management plan the judge excoriated two years ago — in the position of controlling wolf management in the entire Northern Rockies, at least for now. Wyoming has stubbornly opposed the federal wolf reintroduction effort since it began at Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s. Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a popular Democrat now in the final months of his second and final term, said this week that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter haven’t bothered to ask him whether Wyoming intends to reconsider. “It may be that they’ve known me long enough that I’m not going to change my position,” Freudenthal said of the other governors...more

Public can access documents detailing chemicals used in Wyoming drilling operations

Despite vigorous opposition from industry, it appears state regulators and the general public will have broad access to documents detailing chemicals used in oil and gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other drilling operations. Wyoming is set to implement new rules forcing the oil and gas industry to reveal such information beginning Sept. 15. While the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission doesn't plan to make special efforts to compile and present the information to the public, agency officials say the information will be readily available. Operators must disclose the information within regular permitting, sundry and other documentation they submit to the agency. The documentation is listed on a well-by-well basis on the commission's website (wogcc.state.wy.us). Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process used to crack open rock and shale deep underground to stimulate the flow of hydrocarbons. The process is credited for vastly increasing America's potential natural gas reserve -- by as much as 35 percent in recent years. But fracking has also come under scrutiny in the Rockies and particularly in the eastern United States, for fear the process could contaminate drinking water supplies. Many different chemicals can be used in fracking, and the industry insisted it didn't have to disclose individual recipes because companies considered those proprietary...more

BLM proposes National Academy of Sciences Study on Wild Horse & Burro Program

Following a request by dozens of members of Congress, the Bureau of Land Management has asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) to make an independent technical review of the Wild Horse & Burro Program to ensure that the BLM is using the best science available in managing wild horses and burros on Western rangelands. The request comes in the wake of criticism from animal rights groups who also have filed federal injunctions to try to stop horse and burro roundups in California and Nevada, as Lake County News has reported. Earlier this month, the Animal Welfare Institute also called on Congress to take swift and decisive action “to prevent the BLM from 'managing' our nation's wild horses into extinction.” That call followed a bipartisan letter, signed by 52 members of Congress in late July to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, calling for a National Academy of Sciences study...more

A nice dodge - gets the politicians past this election cycle.

Inspectors: Egg farms in recall unsanitary

Federal investigators found piles of manure up to eight feet tall, live mice, pigeons and other birds inside the hen houses at two egg farms suspected of causing a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness, officials said Monday. Investigators made public their observations of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two massive egg producers who have recalled nearly 500 million eggs since Aug. 13. During their inspection of the two Iowa farms in the past two weeks, FDA investigators have documented multiple unsanitary conditions that may have caused eggs to be contaminated. They found dead maggots and live flies that crunched under foot at Wright County Egg, where the FDA also documented a hen house bulging from manure. Investigators made numerous observations about holes in buildings or gaps in structures, which can allow rodents, pigeons and other animals to enter hen houses. On several occasions, investigators saw live rodents running through hen houses at both farms...more

Song Of The Day #394

In the 40s, 50s and some cases into the 60s country music stations played bluegrass music right alongside country. Ranch Radio will try to re-create that sound for the rest of the week.

We'll begin with Hank Williams and Flatt & Scruggs from the year 1949. The tunes are You're Gonna Change or I'm Gonna Leave (March), Down The Road (May), My Bucket's Got A Hole In It (August) and Foggy Mountain Breakdown (December).

Mayor killed in Mexican border state

The mayor of a city in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas was killed and his 10-year-old daughter was injured Sunday, officials said. Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, mayor of the city of Hidalgo, was driving a truck on his property around 4:30 p.m. when he was killed, state prosecutors said in a statement. State prosecutor Hernan de la Garza Tamez said police recovered 18 casings and three shotgun shells at the scene. According to the results of an autopsy, Leal suffered 27 bullet wounds in the head, thorax, abdomen and back regions. Leal's daughter, who was riding with him, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, prosecutors said. She was injured by two gunshots to the leg, which fractured her tibia, officials said...more

Border Patrol to Sheriff's Office: Agent was shot at from Mexico

The U.S. Border Patrol told the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office that one of its agents working in the Nogales area was shot at from the Mexican side of the international boundary early Monday morning. Dispatch received the call at 4:23 a.m., said Lupita Perez of the Sheriff’s Office. She said the Border Patrol contacted her office “out of courtesy,” and that the actual incident occurred around 2 a.m. on the Buena Vista Ranch near Kino Springs. “It was approximately five gun shots coming from Mexico towards his direction,” said Perez, who added that the agent said he could hear the bullets whizzing past him. She said the shots came from a vehicle. “Nobody was hurt and no property was damaged.” Perez said a Blackhawk helicopter was called out and Border Patrol Special Response Teams responded as well. “They searched the area but didn’t find anything,” Perez said...more

Car Bomb Explodes Outside Northern Mexican TV Station

A car exploded early Friday in front of the offices of a major Mexican television station in a northern state where officials are investigating the massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants. The Televisa network reported that the explosion damaged its building and knocked out its signal for several hours in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the drug gang-plagued state of Tamaulipas. It said none of its employees was hurt in the explosion, which was felt for several blocks. Soldiers were blocking access to the building, Televisa said. The network described the explosion as a car bomb, but city, state and federal officials could not immediately be reached to confirm that. The press office at the Defense Department said it had no information.
If confirmed, it would be the third car bomb in Mexico this year -- a new and frightening tactic in the country's escalating drug war...more

3,200 Mexican Police Officers Fired In Anti-Corruption Drive

Mexico fired some 3,200 police officers this year as part of an ongoing crackdown on incompetence, corruption and links to organized crime, said officials on Monday. Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said at a press conference on Monday that the fired officers accounted to almost 10% of the country's federal police force, which has about 34,500 officials. Pointing out that some 465 of the fired police officers are now facing criminal charges, Rosas added that another 1,020 officers are facing disciplinary proceedings for failing in "confidence tests." Rosas also stressed that none of the officers removed from the federal police force as part of the crackdown would be allowed to work in police forces at local, state or federal levels. He insisted that the clean up operations were part of an effort to clean up the country's notoriously corrupt police...more

Border deaths in Arizona may break record

This year, Arizona became known as the state with the toughest policies against illegal immigration. That's why Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Eric Peters didn't think the Pima County coroner would see a surge in migrants killed while trying to cross Arizona's southern deserts. But despite beefed-up efforts to stem illegal immigration and an economy that makes work harder to come by, migrants are still trying to get into the country. And many are dying. In 2007, a record 218 bodies were found in Pima County. This year, the death toll could be worse. Already, authorities have recovered the remains of 170 migrants. "We're kind of looking at a record-breaking year this year," Peters said. July was the worst month of this year so far, with 59 people found dead. More than half of them died from heat-related causes. On July 15, the deadliest day of the month, seven bodies were found, among them the remains of Omar Luna Velasquez, 25. The high temperature that day was 108 degrees. To accommodate the bodies in the summer heat, a 50-foot refrigerated trailer truck has been parked in the coroner's receiving area...more

Ranchers Disappointed With Troop Deployment

As National Guard troops trickled into southern Arizona, rancher Don Kimble was busy trying to plug the problem that he says consistently over runs his property; smugglers and the drugs they carry, "Three days ago we found a couple of bales of marijuana on the ranch. And, then this morning (a worker) found another abandoned (bale) in my pasture. So, it's obvious that smugglers still going through (our ranch)," said Kimble. One big reason why Kimble is not too pleased to hear only 30 troops arrived Monday. And, even those ones are not yet on the border, where the ranchers want them." "It's a good show but when are we going to get some action. And, when is Mexico going to get in gear and stop this drug war from spilling over into the U.S.?" asked Kimble. This administration doesn't take it (border issues) seriously and that's a sign for the cartels to continue to operate the way they do. I'll bet we'll probably see violence increase," added Patrick Bray with the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association...more

Sheriff Babeu: It’s ‘An Outrage’ Obama Stopped Building Border Fence

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Ariz., says it is “an outrage” the Obama administration has stopped building the double-fencing needed to assist the Border Patrol in securing the U.S.-Mexico border and says it is time for the United States to begin fighting illegal immigration and drug smuggling directly at the border instead of within the country where it harms American citizens and communities. By the time Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, according to the Justice Department, only 108 miles of the 262-mile-long Arizona portion of the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border had been fenced. “We shouldn’t be fighting this battle in the interior. We should be fighting it directly on our international border,” Babeu said in an "Online With Terry Jeffrey" interview. “And it’s an outrage that our own federal government stopped building the fence.”...more

Drug cartels run wild in Mexico

The big Mexican city on the border -- in fact that country's entire northern region -- has become an anarchic site of murder, mayhem and viciousness. It is a huge mortuary of a city where no one is safe and the silence is broken only by the sound of gunfire. Northern Mexico is the Somalia of the Western Hemisphere with killing fields cultivated and sustained by an enormous flow of cash and weapons from the United States, a steady revenue produced from this nation's huge appetite for drugs. In Monterey recently, U.S. State Department officials there were told to evacuate their children after a private school came in harm's way amid signs the drug cartels now have control of the city. The unstable situation now is threatening to spill over into resort areas, adversely impacting Mexico's vital tourist industry already suffering from fears generated by the constant news of slaughter. Next to the economy, the escalating death and destruction toll in Mexico linked as it is to escalating alarm over immigration is increasingly becoming America 's leading domestic issue. It has serious political ramifications for the Obama administration, which is faced with mounting questions about how to keep the violence from spilling into U. S. border cities and to curtail the mass of money headed south every day...more

Juarez cancels Independence Day celebrations over drug violence

How bad is it in Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world on the northern border with Texas? Bad enough that they are canceling the Sept. 16 Independence Day celebrations. Juarez residents will have to celebrate in the safety of their own homes. "Because of threats, because of criminal activities that exist in Juarez, we don't want to take any risks," Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz told the El Paso Times. “Right now Ciudad Juarez should not be celebrating,” adds Dr. Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla, head of the volunteer committee of public safety. This isn't any ordinary Independence Day coming up next month either. It’s the bicentennial of Mexico’s 1810 declaration of freedom from the Spanish crown. In the capital and Mexico's other major cities, large celebrations are planned...more

Juárez drug war: El Paso does feel effects

We continue to be a safe U.S. city, but we're fooling ourselves if we think the narco violence in Juárez has not negatively affected our way of life. "Spillover" is the correct word, a bulls-eye definition of what's going on. But it should be looked at in more ways than stray bullets hitting El Paso buildings in the immediate border vicinity. More to the point, the ongoing war to control this sector's drug route is affecting us economically and socially -- and that's "spillover." We rely on trade with Mexico to fuel our economy. It's second only to the money generated here by Fort Bliss. We have family and friends who live in Juárez. Economically: There are two main negative affects the narco war has on trade and business. # Cargo moves slower due to tighter security measures -- drugs and contraband coming this way, and weapons and cash from drug sales going into Mexico. Our international bridges are clogged. Wait times can last hours. # Fewer Juarenses are walking into El Paso to shop at our stores. Data bear that out at both Downtown pedestrian bridges. That means a loss in profits to business owners, fewer dollars in sales tax revenue, and fewer dollars in bridge tolls. Socially: Until 9/11, El Paso/Juárez had essentially an open border. From the 1800s to Sept. 11, 2001, it took little more than a nod to cross into either country. El Pasoans have always had family and friends living in Juárez and the Juárez Valley. Now U.S. citizens are afraid to travel into Juárez, even to visit family and friends. Those traveling to Juárez for the restaurant or night life have found scores of restaurants and nightclubs shuttered and out of business. We have effectively been cut off from our family and friends, and the social amenities once provided in Juárez...more

El Paso declares independence from México

The word is out. People know. El Paso is the city across the border from very dangerous Juárez, México. There was a time when El Paso embraced its proximity to México, but that time has passed. “We used to call ourselves The Gateway to México, says El Paso Mayor John Cook. “Now we are calling ourselves The International City.” The Convention and Visitors Bureau has just launched a new advertising campaign with the tag line “Real Adventure is Still Alive.” It emphasizes the Mexican flavor of El Paso and the scenic beauty of the mountains and desert. The campaign, says Bill Blaziek, CVB general manager, “is meant to be our declaration. El Paso can stand alone and tall.” Of course, after the Aug. 21 shooting in which a stray bullet broke through a glass door at the University of Texas at El Paso, “adventure” may not be quite the right note...more

Monday, August 30, 2010

Management and a forest of poor incentives

Bozeman is clearly the epicenter of the people who have long studied how institutional arrangements affect the quality of natural resource and environmental management. In these arenas, as in all others where chance does not determine the outcome, decisions depend on two things, information and incentives. There are many types of incentives including cultural, financial, religious, reputational and status. Management that produces good outcomes, however they are measured, is dependent on the quality of information readily available and the incentives to act responsibly upon it. To deny this reality and assume that somehow bureaucrats armed or imbued with an ideology based on good intentions and pious pronouncements is worse than naïve, it's morally, economically and environmentally irresponsible. This is one lesson from the great forest fires of 1910 whose centennial we observed last weekend. The Big Burn hit 10 national forests in Idaho, Montana and Western Washington. It covered three million acres, one and a half times the area of Yellowstone Park, and killed 78 firefighters. After the devastation of the Big Blowup, the U.S. Forest Service decided to battle against every wildfire. And, of course, now firefighting drives its budget. The lesson is clear, incentives matter. There is no better illustration of the ecological problems associated with bureaucratic land management than the century-long saga of the United States Forest Service, an agency that was once revered as the world's premiere conservation agency...more

Wolf, grizzly bear cases set back progress, biologists, managers say

Wolves and bears don't behave well in courtrooms. But the two big predators are likely to spend the next 18 months there as their advocates and enemies try to untangle them from the federal Endangered Species Act. Last week, Montana wildlife managers decided to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy's Aug. 5 decision placing the gray wolf back under federal protection. Meanwhile, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Missoula appealed another Molloy ruling that prevented state management of Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly bears. No one knows how the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will settle the two lawsuits. But wildlife managers for both wolves and bears fear that years of cooperation and compromise in the woods may wither while the animals' fate is debated - and ultimately decided - on paper. "If people look in and realize how difficult it is for agencies to work together on anything, they would realize incredible steps were made," said Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official who is part of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Committee. "All the mechanisms were there for bear recovery - that was the frustrating thing. This relisting put things back 20 years." Molloy's 2009 decision blocked a FWS plan to let states manage about 600 grizzlies living around Yellowstone National Park. His wolf ruling earlier this summer canceled public wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho for the 2010 season. Montana officials hoped hunters would kill 186 wolves and bring the state's population down to about 450 animals. Wolves are blamed for both falling elk and deer numbers and growing domestic livestock attacks...more

Joe Miller wants Alaska to control and develop federal lands

Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, who is threatening to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has a bold vision for Alaska, one that would entail the state taking over federal lands, including Denali National Park and Preserve. In an interview with Alaska Dispatch, Miller said if elected to the Senate, he will fight for state control of vast swaths of Alaska currently under federal ownership. Promoting resource development on those lands would help Alaska pay its own way and break its dependence on federal money, he said. Miller -- a Gulf War veteran and Yale Law School graduate backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- has fought his way to a 1,668-vote lead over Murkowski in the GOP Alaska primary, with some 20,000 absentee and questioned ballots to be counted starting Tuesday. Miller's idea that the state should own most of the land -- not the federal government -- is far from new in Alaska. Business leaders and Republicans have long complained the feds have "locked up" Alaska, including places like the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and parts of the Tongass National Forest. Miller adheres to the philosophy that the federal government should oversee national defense and border control, and very little else. Miller, who also holds a master's in economics from the University of Alaska, believes Alaska must end federal paternalism and move toward state control of all lands and encourage aggressive resource development...more

Legislators, others oppose NM cap and trade petition

Legislators representing Eddy County, local government officials and industry and business leaders have come out in opposition to a cap and trade petition proposed by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board. The Eddy County Commission in recent months passed two resolutions opposing the petition and, along with a letter, submitted them to the NMED Board. In addition, a representative for the county testified at a recent hearing on the impact it would have in Eddy County if the petition were to be implemented. On Tuesday, the Carlsbad City Council also came out in opposition, voting to submit a letter to the NMED. Russell Hardy, representing the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, in his letter to the editor published Friday in the Current-Argus, explained the petition. "The petition, as currently written, would apply only to rural businesses and industries that produce more than 250,000 tons of CO2 annually and would exempt businesses operating in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and on sovereign Indian Nations," he explained. "Businesses and industries in our area that would be impacted would include potash mines, Navajo refineries in Artesia and Lovington, Excel Energy generating stations in Lea County, not to mention large-scale manufacturing, mining and utility businesses throughout the rural regions of the state." Eddy County Commissioner Lewis Derrick, a rancher in north Eddy County, said the Environment Department's petition will hurt the local economy and will have a far-reaching effect if it passes. "I'm looking at this from the possibility of this petition wrecking our tax base and running off businesses," Derrick said. "It's going to impact not only the oil and gas industry. It will impact farmers, ranchers and the trucking industry. The state should stay out of our business. They need to back off this. It's mind boggling that they would do this to the people of New Mexico."...more

Cap and trade hearing set for Clovis

Clovis is one of five stops on the state Environmental Improvement Board’s schedule to discuss a greenhouse gas emissions program. The hearing is 2 p.m. Thursday at the Clovis Civic Center, and is scheduled to last six hours. “This is a formal public hearing on two proposals to address climate change in New Mexico,” said Jim Norton, a spokesman for the New Mexico Environment Department. “The first proposal is by the New Energy Economy. The second is by the state environment department.” Both proposals are cap and trade programs. Such a program imposes a cap on emissions, and each company is given a number of tons of emissions allowed. A company that releases less than its emission allowance is permitted to sell the allowance on the open market. Curry County rancher Hoyt Pattison attended an Aug. 26 open house the agency held in Clovis and thought it was a propaganda session paid for with money the state doesn’t have. Pattison doesn’t think cap and trade will work in execution, reasoning that power companies will choose to buy up allowances, and simply pass the cost on to consumers. “The danger of it,” Pattison said, “is it’s going to end up costing everybody in higher electricity prices.”...more

Ranchers differ on proposed meat industry regulations

Meat industry professionals clashed Friday about a federal plan designed to preserve competition in an industry increasingly dominated by a few large corporations. The meeting, which drew about 2,000 people to Colorado State University's Lory Student Center ballroom and overflow rooms, is one of five the Obama administration has scheduled for this year to hear about competition in the agriculture industry. Cattlemen, though, heatedly disagree about whether the rule would help or hurt them. Mike Harper of Harper Livestock of Eaton, which markets more than 200,000 head of lambs a year, said government regulation is the cause of the problems he faces, not the solution to it. He said his operation, which he runs with his father, Harold, is fortunate because there are two packers, JBS and Superior in Denver, to sell lambs. Harper told officials the biggest problem he faces is finding lambs to put in the feedlot as there are fewer and fewer producers running flocks. At least part of that is because of government regulations, he said, noting a longtime supplier of lambs in Montana is being forced out of business because the government claims their sheep are spreading disease to Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. Dr. Taylor Haynes is a rancher and urologist from Cheyenne who specializes in grass-fed beef. He said he has seen a “tremendous loss in buyers” because all the small family feeding operations have gone by the wayside, because of consolidation and a takeover of the majority of beef slaughter by three companies, JBS, Tyson Foods and Cargill. “Bring the small and mid-size packers back and you will bring back the small family feeders,” Haynes said. Robbie LeValley, a cow-calf producer from Hotchkiss, said the proposed rules would hurt her. She and her family, along with five other ranching families, own Homestead Meats, which sells meat directly to consumers, retailers, and restaurants. She said under the proposal, she wouldn't be allowed to own the cattle she processes. Those rules, she said, need to take those kind of situations into consideration before they are implemented. “We don't need more government regulation,” she said. “We don't need external people who tell us we are bad.” Bill Bullard, CEO of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, called for the immediate implementation of the new rules and got a round of applause from several supporters in the crowd, most from his home state of Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska...more

Proposed GIPSA Changes Force The Cattle Industry To Go To War With Itself. Again

Two truths: (1) The cattle industry operates on razor thin margins. (2) It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. One conclusion - If the cattle industry continues to go to war with itself, every penny of those razor thin margins are going to fall into the pockets of the fat lady, the one who earns her living as a lawyer, not an opera singer. Only then will it be over. For every cattleman. Most of the participants in July’s Battle of Denver, which was fought over the possible misuse of millions of checkoff dollars, moved up the road to Friday's USDA-DOJ listening session in Fort Collins and they’re fighting anew over some serious money this time. Both battles pit rancher against rancher in a state of mind where laws prohibiting concealed carry and automated weaponry don’t exist, so hidden agendas and heavy artillery are the rule of the day. We’re not content to let anti-ag groups kill us off one-by-one when we can do it much more efficiently ourselves. Sounding a sensible and widely ‘Twittered’ warning about the impending assisted suicide mission in Ft. Collins, Colorado Cattle Association President Robbie LeValley said, “We are all cattle producers and we should not be circling the wagons and shooting inward!" The cattle industry is looking at a future filled with legal briefs, not better marketing efforts. With an in depth audit of checkoff dollar expenditures looming, there is a real chance NCBA and CBB will meet in court over their existing relationship and family squabbles over money always get nasty. GIPSA’s bright new idea, the subject of the Ft. Collins clash, could turn out to be an absolute boondoggle for the industry and cash cow for the legal profession. If it’s enacted, the NCBA and NPPC will probably be joined by several other large special interest groups and their legal advisors in the nearest federal court to demand it be rescinded. If it’s not enacted, R-CALF and friends will head into that same court room to demand it be revived...more

Advocates Demand Federal Action to Restore Fair Markets

Last night on the eve of this workshop, more than 500 independent ranchers and farmers, meatpacking workers, consumers, urban farmers, and food justice activists gathered for a public forum. Organization leaders and the public spoke about the need for government action to curb unchecked mergers and other anti-competitive activities that have allowed meatpackers to drive down cattle prices while keeping consumer beef prices high. “We’ve reached a tipping point where everyone along the value chain, from ranchers who can no longer make a living to consumers who worry that their meat may make them sick, have had enough,” said Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “We need fair, functioning markets for livestock so that independent producers can stay in the game and consumers can have a real choice of where they buy their meat, not just from one massive company with many brands.” “I’m tired of waiting for the government to do something,” says Gilles Stockton, a rancher from Montana and a member of Western Organization of Resource Councils. “It’s stupid to keep arguing whether there is a problem – it’s obvious there is a problem. We need action from the USDA and DOJ to restore competition in the cattle industry.” Earlier this month, 21 senators led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) sent Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter in support of the new regulations to clarify and strengthen the protections afforded by the Packers and Stockyard Act for livestock producers, swine production contract growers and poultry growers...more


A homeschooling mom made this t-shirt for her kids.

Song Of The Day #393

Ranch Radio takes a look at the classic sound of traditional bluegrass this week.

We'll start with Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys performing Toy Heart and Will You Be Lovin' Another Man.

The tunes are from 1949 and 1946, and I picked them because Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were in the band. The sound of Flatt singing lead and Monroe singing harmony was never equaled in traditional bluegrass. If only they could have stayed together, but it was not to be.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shame on the Sun-News & the Hispano Chamber

In the article Report: Wilderness areas good for economy Sun-News reporter Amanda L. Bradford writes:

A report on the economic benefit of wilderness conservation is being touted by one local business group as proof of their claim that federal wilderness areas help bring in revenue, but the leader of another business organization called that claim "overreaching."...

The 290-member Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, which supports the federal Desert Peaks-Organ Mountains Wilderness Act and has launched a local TV advertising campaign to promote it, said the report shows that investing in wilderness conservation and restoration in southern New Mexico provides increased employment and revenue related to tourism...

Emphasis mine.

I'm curious as to where Bradford got the term "wilderness conservation", as that term never appears in the referenced report. The second quote above attributes the term to the Hispano Chamber. If the term is from the Hispano Chamber, then they are once again distorting the facts.

In fact, the word "wilderness" never appears anywhere in the report.

The Audubon Society put out an 1100 word press release about the report, and the word "wilderness" never appears in their press release.

Read the press release and you will understand the report is aimed at the New Mexico legislature to prevent any cuts in conservation funding:

“In today's economy lawmakers have tough budget decisions to make, and this report clearly demonstrates that investing in conservation and restoration projects pays large dividends now and in the future,” continued Stockdale. “Our state’s leaders have an opportunity to fund vital conservation programs that will enhance our quality of life and create jobs.”

Read the report and you will see most of the types of recreation and restoration projects given as examples would be totally prohibited in Wilderness areas.

Here's a picture from the report:

Try doing that in a Wilderness area.

So we have a news story with a misleading headline that mentions wilderness, with the body of the story using the term "wilderness conservation", all concerning a report that never uses either term and which is promoting projects that cannot occur in a Wilderness area.

The Sun-News needs to do a better job of fact-checking their reporters and the Hispano Chamber should rein in their exec and apologize to the public.

Eminent domain, by any other name . . . still stinks

Imagine you come home from work one day to a notice on your front door that you have 45 days to demolish your house, or the city will do it for you. Oh, and you’re paying for it. This is happening right now in Montgomery, Ala., and here is how it works: The city decides it doesn’t like your property for one reason or another, so it declares it a “public nuisance.” It mails you a notice that you have 45 days to demolish your property, at your expense, or the city will do it for you (and, of course, bill you). Your tab with the city will constitute a lien on your property, and if you don’t pay it within 30 days (or pay your installments on time; if you owe over $10,000, you can work out a deal to pay back the city for destroying your home over a period of time, with interest), the city can sell your now-vacant land to the highest bidder. Alabama law empowers municipalities to do just this. Officials can demolish structures that they determine, “due to poor design, obsolescence, or neglect, have become unsafe to the extent of becoming public nuisances…and [are] causing or may cause a blight or blighting influence on the city and the neighborhoods in which [they are] located.” Keep in mind, so-called standards like “obsolescence” are so vague they can mean anything, so even a well-maintained home that government officials don’t like the look of can be fed to the bulldozers...more

This happening in a predominately black community but it looks like the folks, with the help of the Institute for Justice, are fighting back.

EPA rejects effort to ban lead in bullets

The U.S. EPA on Friday rejected a petition from several environmental groups to bar use of lead in ammunition, a decision that comes amid GOP claims that a ban would be an “assault on rural America.” The American Bird Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups in early August sought the ban on lead shot, bullets and fishing gear under the Toxic Substances Control Act, citing harmful effects on wildlife and people. “EPA today denied a petition submitted by several outside groups for the agency to implement a ban on the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition. EPA reached this decision because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – nor is the agency seeking such authority,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “EPA is taking action on many fronts to address major sources of lead in our society, such as eliminating childhood exposures to lead; however, EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife,” he added. But he said the agency would continue reviewing the portion of the petition seeking to ban lead fishing sinkers...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Trapped in the quakies

by Julie Carter

I let my cowpony pick his own path through the deadfall as we worked our way down a steep slope toward the cattle at the bottom of the canyon.

It was late summer at the ranch, but in this high mountain pasture signs of fall were already creeping through the aspens. Their heart-shaped leaves were wearing tones of gold as they shimmered and fluttered in the afternoon breeze, true to their “quaking” name.

The incline became arduous, and if I’d been older or wiser, I might have thought I should be fearful. The loose leaves that had fallen on the ground and the slick black soil still wet from a rain the night before complicated the already precarious descent.

The downed timber lay every which way like a game of Pick-up Sticks gone bad. In my youthful oblivion, I whistled a tune while the big bay methodically navigated his way through the quakies.

When the angle of the terrain forced him to slide, he worked athletically to keep his butt up under him in an equine sort of squat. He never wavered in his determination to get where we needed to go.

He knew there were cattle at the bottom, the same as I did. Sometimes the “cow” in cowhorse is an instinct more powerful than self-preservation.

Gathering yearlings for fall shipping was an adventure with my Dad. Especially so in this pasture, as it involved some overnight camping in an old log cabin complete with lanterns, wood-stove cooking and fresh trout from the creek.

Waking early to saddle when the dew was still heavy and the sun was just making it’s first shadows in the long canyon was the stuff of Zane Grey and old Western movies.

On this day, I was to learn a lesson that would serve me all my life. Before I realized what had happened, Bay and I were at the bottom of small crater-like hole near the base of the ridge.

We had literally traversed our way right into a trap. The sharply inclined sides of the crater were littered with fallen trees, an undergrowth of shrubbery and turf that was slick and nothing short of treacherous. Coming down that maze of obstacles was one thing, going back up looked impossible.

Immediately, I realized two things. No one knew exactly where I was, so help may not come anytime soon. And, I could walk out of there, but that meant leaving my horse, an option I wasn’t ready to consider.

For a while, I hollered for help, feeling more than just a little foolish. I sat quietly for another long while, hoping to hear any noise that would indicate that maybe Dad had found me, if he was looking. I wasn’t even sure about that.

It was several hours later before my horse’s head snapped to attention, his ears forward and he rumbled out a low nicker of a greeting.

I could hear timber cracking and brush popping as someone hollered at the cattle I could hear running through the trees. So I hollered a little myself, and in response, my brother and my dad were soon peering at me over the edge of the hole.

My Dad quickly assessed my dilemma while my brother started to offer some smart-alecky comment before my Dad could send him on after the cattle. It was obvious my Dad was trying not to laugh at me and obviously refraining, perhaps knowing I was already feeling pretty stupid.

Looking back, I know there were days we were more trouble to him than we were help, and this was quite possibly one of them.

Not one for explaining much, he told me to get off my horse and tie his reins around his neck. I did, and then he told me to climb on out of the hole. I didn’t want to, but obeyed, thinking I was leaving Bay there to die and it was my fault.

When I got to the top, my dad turned his horse and began to ride away. He told me to follow him afoot. I was mortified that he’d just ride off like that, but knew better than to argue.

My bay gelding decided there was no way he was going to get left behind. He began an Olympian effort to pull himself up the slope, over the logs, and in spite of the mud. There were dreadful noises of grunts, groans and crashes. I turned to see what was happening just as he appeared at the rim of the hole. Apparently, just like my Dad knew he would.

The lesson? What seems hopeless isn’t remedied by trying to holler up a solution. Some well-placed wisdom flavored with a touch of obedience could possibly offer a successful resolution.

Dad’s are pretty smart that way.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarter@tularosa.net. Visit her website at www.julie-carter.com

It's The Pitts: To Those We Leave Behind

by Lee Pitts

We buried my mother last week and in pausing to reflect on her life, I was awed by the changes that have occurred in this country during her 80 plus years of living.

It’s hard to imagine but my Mom lived for one third of our country’s lifespan. She went from FDR to Obama, from Adolph Hitler to Osama bin Laden and from the Dionne quintuplets to the Octomom. She began her life just before the Depression and ended it during the worst economic times since then. She was alive when there was no Social Security to catch you when you fell, and unemployment and political corruption ran rampant in this country. Oh well, some things never change, I suppose.

My mother’s generation went from Shuffle Off to Buffalo to rap music. From Sinatra to Snoop Dogg. From Brother Can You Spare a Dime to four dollars for a cup of coffee. When Barbara Harding was born there were 123 million people living in this country of ours. Today there are more than 310 million.

When my Mom was born you could buy a double dipper ice cream cone for five cents, but you had to work two hours to make that nickel! The average yearly income was $600 and there was no such thing as overtime. I suppose my family lived below what government hacks would call the poverty level these days, but we never knew it. My Mom wanted to stay home and raise her three children but knew she had to support the family, so she created her own business, as a seamstress. She literally worked her fingers to the bone and, to the best of my knowledge, we never “went on the dole.”

At my mother’s wonderful funeral service the church was crawling with her beautiful great grandchildren and I’ve thought about those kids a lot since then. We haven’t done right by them. When my mother was born the national debt was 27 billion dollars. Today it’s 13 trillion. Each person’s share of the national debt 80 years ago was about thirty bucks. Today my mom’s great grandchildren, some who can’t even walk or talk yet, are already in hock for $42,700. Even that number will be wrong by the time you read it because our national debt is currently increasing by 4 billion a day. That’s more than the entire national debt was 80 years ago. If rents had gone up by the same percentage as our debt an apartment would cost $12,000 a month to rent and people would make $288,600 per year instead of one tenth of that. If food had risen as fast as our debt, milk would cost $192 per gallon, eggs would be $48 a dozen and lettuce would set you back $25 per head! I’d suggest either farmers and ranchers are making way too little or the bureaucrats way too much!

In my mom’s youth cars had names that sounded like members of a basketball team: Jewetts, Nashes, Whippets, Willy Knights and Rickenbackers. There were no Hondas or Toyotas. In 1934 you could buy a fully loaded Ford V8 for $615. If that car had risen in price as fast as our nation’s budget it would cost $727,000 today. Eighty years ago the yearly federal budget was three billion dollars. Today it is 3.55 trillion. That’s more than a thousand times as much! If houses had gone up by the same percentage the average house would cost nearly $4 million. Bread would cost $118 per loaf, butter would be $348 per pound and a pound of sirloin steak would be $212!

My mom was really good at cleaning up messes; mostly mine, I admit. I know what she’d have done with the mess we face today. Metaphorically and literally she would have rolled up her sleeves and got to work. If no one was hiring she’d have created her own business. She’d have grown her own food and her own kids. She’d have paid her debts and created something of worth out of her own hard work and talents. She’d have turned off the TV, cooked her meals from scratch and spent more time with her grandkids and great grandkids. And she’d have done anything she could to make life better for them. Look at your own progeny and tell me that’s not work worth doing.
After reading the two articles by Carter and Pitts, I hope everyone will reflect on their heritage...and our future.

Song Of The Day #392

Ranch Radio has been remiss in not offering very much in the traditional bluegrass sound, and we are going to right that wrong this week.

We'll start with our Gospel song this week by Carter & Ralph Stanley - the Stanley Brothers - and their rendition of Four Books In The Bible.

Most of their library is available here, although this particular song is not all that easy to find.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Missing Salem horse trainer found safe

A missing horse trainer from Salem, N.M., has reported himself alive and well to local authorities after being missing since August 11. John Barnett, 65, met with Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office investigators at the Caballo RV Park and General Store shortly before noon Friday. He told investigators he read about himself being missing and said he had been "under a lot of stress and only wanted time to be alone," according to a DASO news release. Barnett is reported to be in good condition and is back with his familiy. He was reported missing earlier this week after his family grew concerned by his lengthy absence. LC Sun-News

Richardson awards stimulus funds to crack down on cockfighting, manage wild horses

Governor Bill Richardson today announced two federal stimulus awards totaling $250,000 that will go to protect animals in New Mexico.

The first award of $150,000 will go to the state Department of Public Safety to help law enforcement officers stop and prosecute illegal cockfighting, dog fighting and respond to animal hoarding cases. The award will support an investigator, training, and a field manual for officers across the state.

The second award of $100,000 will help humanely manage an overpopulated wild horse herd on the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The Jicarilla Nation reports a long-standing problem with wild horses on tribal lands, which damage natural resources and compete with wildlife and cattle for food. The New Mexico Livestock Board will oversee a contractor for the project, which aims to assess the population, develop humane solutions such as relocation and adoption, and other humane options.

"These Recovery Act awards will support our efforts to improve animal health and welfare across New Mexico," Governor Richardson said.

The Jicarilla Apache Nation estimates that as many as 600 wild horses are roaming on tribal lands -- and that the ideal number is about 5 percent of the current wild horse population. The wild horses also disrupt migration routes for native deer and elk populations in addition to competing with wildlife and cattle for feed.

Both awards are from the discretionary Government Services Fund.

Press Release

Public's help sought in search for missing Salem horse trainer

The public is being asked to help find a Salem, N.M., horse trainer last seen two weeks ago. John Barnett, 65, drove away from his rural Salem home, 11 miles outside of Hatch, the afternoon of Aug. 11, according to Do-a Ana sheriff's investigator Ricky Madrid. A neighbor spotted him last, doing yard work at his girlfriend's residence on Spring Canyon Road in Hatch. Recently, Barnett had reportedly been depressed due to a bank repossession of some of his equipment, according to family and law enforcement. A native of Duncan, Ariz., Barnett was busy building and equipping a horse-training arena, and preparing for work running cattle, when his girlfriend, Sun-News columnist Claudette Ortiz, profiled him in April. Barnett "feels blessed," she wrote. "Like all blessings, his multiplied on a steady diet of midnight oil and elbow grease. In Hagerman, he learned to rope calves with two wraps and a hooey (a half-hitch knot) from his uncle at age 11. While attending college in Las Cruces, he worked and lived at the Cox Ranch 10 miles east of the NMSU campus, studying Range Science by gas light. As a calf roper on the rodeo circuit, then rancher and horse trainer, he is used to starting his day in the middle of the night." Since going missing, his family has tried repeatedly to reach him on his cell phone, but he has not answered and the phone might have run out of minutes, Madrid said. He was last seen driving a white 2003 Ford two-door pickup truck displaying New Mexico registration and plate FXY-660. Anyone with any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact central dispatch at (575) 526-0795. You may remain anonymous...more

This didn't catch my attention on the TV news tonight, but then I read this story in the Sun-News and the words Hagerman and calf roper jumped out at me. I went to school with Barnett at NMSU, only I knew him as Johnny.

Sure hope they find him alive and well.

Aw, Wilderness!

ONE day in early 1970, a cross-country skier got lost along the 46-mile Kekekabic Trail, which winds through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Unable to make his way out, he died of exposure. In response, the Forest Service installed markers along the trail. But when, years later, it became time to replace them, the agency refused, claiming that the 1964 Wilderness Act banned signage in the nation’s wilderness areas. Despite the millions of people who have visited the country’s national parks, forests and wildernesses this summer, the Forest Service has become increasingly strict in its enforcement of the Wilderness Act. The result may be more pristine lands, but the agency’s zealous enforcement has also heightened safety risks and limited access to America’s wilderness areas. Over the last 45 years Congress has designated as wilderness 40 percent of the land in our national parks and one-third of the land in our national forests — more than 170,000 square miles, an area nearly as large as California, Massachusetts and New Jersey combined — as wilderness. In March 2009, President Obama signed a law protecting 3,125 more square miles, the largest expansion in more than a generation. Over the decades an obvious contradiction has emerged between preservation and access. As the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management — each of which claims jurisdiction over different wilderness areas — adopted stricter interpretations of the act, they forbade signs, baby strollers, certain climbing tools and carts that hunters use to carry game. As a result, the agencies have made these supposedly open recreational areas inaccessible and even dangerous, putting themselves in opposition to healthy and environmentally sound human-powered activities...more

Finally someone in the MSM is writing factually about the restrictions in Wilderness Areas. I never dreamed it would be the New York Times.

Obama’s Drilling Ban No Longer Needed, Report Finds

President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deep-water drilling is no longer needed because new rules reduce the risk of an uncontrolled spill, according to a report for a panel investigating BP Plc’s blowout. Rules issued in June by the Interior Department “provide an adequate margin of safety to responsibly allow the resumption of deep-water drilling,” according to the report today from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based research group. The rules, if followed by BP, Apache Corp. and other drillers, and enforced by regulators, “will achieve a significant and beneficial reduction of risk.” The report was prepared for the presidential commission investigating the BP spill. Its leaders, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly and former Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, have questioned the need for the moratorium, which is scheduled to expire Nov. 30...more

Crapo announces first Owyhee land acquisitions

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, the Republican who spearheaded creation of 517,000 acres of federal wilderness in the Owyhee canyons last year, announced on Thursday the purchase of 971 acres of private inholdings from ranchers. No price was disclosed. The deal includes more than a mile of the North Fork Owyhee River, located just east of the Oregon-Idaho border, that will be available for fishing, hiking and habitat protection. That 611-acre property has belonged to Owyhee County rancher Mike Hanley. Environmental groups said the acquisition helps ensure the integrity of the wilderness and removes roadblocks for public access into some of the nation's most remote country. "This is an important first step in achieving the greater goal for the completion of the wilderness in the Owyhees," said David Kirk, of The Wilderness Land Trust, a group that acquires unprotected private land within wilderness and returns it to public ownership. Kirk's Colorado-based group, with The Nature Conservancy, are assisting with the transfers and plan to shift ownership to the Bureau of Land Management. Earlier this month, Crapo announced the Bureau of Land Management had set aside $2 million for land purchases included in his Owyhee Initiative...more

Congressman blasts U.S. Forest Service for "abusive," "predatory" fees

Congressman Tom McClintock made the following statement to the Regional U.S. Forest Service Management Roundtable hosted by Congressman Wally Herger in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 25: There are four general subjects that my constituents have brought to my attention that I feel are important to raise in this forum. First, some of the most disturbing stories I have heard locally involve the abuse of cost recovery fees by the Forest Service. This has been a source of great frustration and evinces an attitude within the Service that I believe requires immediate correction. For example, the California Endurance Riders Association had been using the El Dorado National Forest for many years. This time, when they sought a simple 5-year 10-event permit to continue doing exactly what they have been doing without incident for decades, the Forest Service demanded $11,000 in fees. They paid these fees, but the El Dorado National Forest management nevertheless pulled the approved permit and halted the process on utterly specious grounds. It then demanded an additional $17,000 fee, causing the Endurance Riders Association to cancel what had been a long-term civic tradition that had been a boon to the local economy. In 2010 this outrage was repeated after the group spent $5,800 for the “Fool's Gold Endurance Run” that had been an ongoing event for more than 40 years. The Polka Dots Motorcycle Club tells a similar story...more

State explores private management of state parks

The chairman of a board looking at the potential for privatizing state government functions would like to see Utah privatize a handful of state parks to see if they can be run more efficiently than they are now. The Utah Privatization Policy Board, an advisory panel to the Legislature, has been exploring privatization for several months. But Randy Simmons, chairman of the board, said he would like to see a pilot project to see how private companies can manage six to eight state parks. The state currently manages 43 parks, reservoirs, museums and golf courses. A handful are profitable, but many, particularly the museums, are not, Mike Styler, director of the Department of Natural Resources, told the panel Wednesday. Parks receive about $31 million annually in operating funds from the state. Simmons, former Providence mayor and head of the political science department at Utah State University, suggests putting money-makers and -losers together to find a balance. The idea of park privatization was raised during this year’s legislative session, but no action was taken...more

FDA finds evidence of salmonella in chicken feed

Food and Drug Administration officials said Thursday their investigators had homed in on chicken feed as a likely major contributor to the salmonella contamination that triggered a nationwide egg recall and potentially caused nearly 1,500 cases of illness. Feed found at Wright County Egg in Iowa tested positive for salmonella, FDA officials said at a joint news conference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella also was found in walkways and manure at Wright County Egg, as well as in ingredients used in the feed. The samples of the salmonella were a genetic match to the salmonella that has made many people sick, officials said...more

The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves

Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements. That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant. It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. In fact, the government violated Pineda-Moreno's privacy rights in two different ways. For starters, the invasion of his driveway was wrong. The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the "curtilage," a fancy legal term for the area around the home. The government's intrusion on property just a few feet away was clearly in this zone of privacy. The court went on to make a second terrible decision about privacy: that once a GPS device has been planted, the government is free to use it to track people without getting a warrant. There is a major battle under way in the federal and state courts over this issue, and the stakes are high...more

Concerns raised over law giving tribal police more powers

Senator Jeff Bingaman heard concerns on Thursday about a new law that gives tribal police more power. A dozen officials of various tribes attended the roundtable discussion at San Juan College in Farmington. A bill passed in July gives tribal authorities more power to prosecute on tribal land. While it may sound good on paper, some officials say it's not that easy. "Without additional funding, we're never going to be able to do it," Navajo chief prosecutor Bernadine Martin said...more

Here is the KOB-TV video report:

Bill Huey, 85, leaves conservationist legacy

Bill Huey, known to some as the godfather of New Mexico wildlife management, died Wednesday at his home in Tesuque — almost a year and a half after the death of his wife of 62 years. Huey, 85, spent more than three decades with the state Game and Fish Department, rising to cabinet secretary of its parent agency. After retirement, he traveled extensively and became an outspoken conservationist. After graduating from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Huey enlisted in the military and reported to Aviation Cadet School in Dallas in 1943. In 1945, he left for England where he was a turret gunner on a B-17 bomber. After the war, he enrolled in New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces, studying engineering, and soon met another engineering student, Mary Blue of Rochester, N.Y. After an engagement of only a few hours, Huey and Blue were wed. They remained married until her death on March 6, 2009. After graduating in 1948, Huey took a job as a game warden for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and was posted to Reserve. He would later serve as the department's chief of public affairs and assistant director before Gov. Jerry Apodaca appointed him cabinet secretary of the new Natural Resources Department in 1977. He retired from state government at the end of 1982...more

Song Of The Day #391

Out West week on Ranch Radio continues with Johnny Bond and Elton Britt, performing Texas Cannonball and Pinto Pal respectively.

You will find the tunes on the three CD box set Songs Of The Golden West - Tumbling Tumbleweeds, which has a total of 75 tracks. It is apparently not available at Amazon.com.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

House Ag Chair: Cap and trade 'dead' in Congress -- but not at EPA

Carbon cap and trade legislation is effectively "dead" in Congress, House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson told feed industry executives Monday, with the chief struggle over carbon regulation now solely being played out in and around the Environmental Protection Agency. The Senate isn't just short of the votes for a cap-and-trade measure like what passed the House last June, it's short of the votes for any significant climate measure at all. And today Peterson confirmed the whispers on Capitol Hill — that environmental lobbyists are scaling back their efforts on a large-scale climate bill because they too have come to privately accept that it won't happen this year. "The environmental community has basically stood down and they're pulling all of their money out of the effort and all their lobbying," Peterson said. "So it's dead." "So the issue now is is the EPA going to try to regulate this under the Clean Air Act?" Peterson said. That was almost certainly a rhetorical question, because the answer is obviously yes. In fact, they've already started...more

Texas fights global-warming power grab

The state's slogan is "Don't mess with Texas." But the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doing just that, and at stake is whether the Obama administration can impose its global-warming agenda without a vote of Congress. President Obama's EPA is already well down the path to regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, something the act was not designed to do. It has a problem, however, because shoehorning greenhouse gases into that 40-year-old law would force churches, schools, warehouses, commercial kitchens and other sources to obtain costly and time-consuming permits. It would grind the economy to a halt, and the likely backlash would doom the whole scheme. The EPA, determined to move forward anyway, is attempting to rewrite the Clean Air Act administratively via a "tailoring rule," which would reduce the number of regulated sources. The problem with that approach? It's illegal. The EPA has no authority to rewrite the law. To pull it off, the EPA needs every state with a State Implementation Plan to rewrite all of its statutory thresholds as well. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan W. Shaw saw the tailoring rule for what it really is: a massive power grab and centralization of authority...more

How green is Judge Molloy?

One of the West's most controversial federal judges -- Don Molloy in Missoula, Mont. -- was at it again Aug. 5. Ruling on two lawsuits filed by 14 environmental groups, Molloy ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore full Endangered Species Act protections for the 1,300-plus gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. By doing so, the judge fueled the perception in some camps that he's a green activist. Molloy also ruled for environmentalists in an important case last year, ordering the feds to restore protections for Yellowstone's grizzly bears because of the decline of whitebark pines, a primary food source. Four months ago, Molloy ordered the U.S. Forest Service not to use helicopters to spray weeds in grizzly habitat in northwest Montana because the noise might cause the bears to flee. A right-wing Oregon blogger condemned Molloy as a "nutzoid" greenie after those rulings. It's a refrain that began shortly after Democratic President Clinton appointed Molloy in 1995. Over the years, Molloy has blocked dozens of timber sales, reined in backcountry snowmobilers, protected wilderness-study areas, upheld Montana's ban on game farms that might spread wildlife diseases -- you get the drift. Molloy -- who gets a lot of environmental cases simply because of his location -- still rules against environmentalists more than half the time, says one lawyer who's often in his court. Another frequent lawsuit-filer quickly names five timber sales that Molloy approved over his objections; all five were ultimately blocked by an appeals court...more

What's the Beef? Food-Inflation Fears

Cattle prices are soaring toward records, pushing up the cost of beef in grocery stores and adding to the risk of a broader wave of food inflation. The gains are being fueled by rising appetites globally and a dwindling U.S. herd. Purchases of U.S. beef around the world have surged as emerging economies become more prosperous. At the same time, ranchers hit in recent years by drought and the financial crisis have cut the number of cattle to the lowest level in decades. The rally has driven up the futures market for cattle by 11% since early July to reach the brink of the $1-a-pound mark, just shy of the $1.04 record set in 2008. Prices dipped 0.3% Tuesday, to settle at 99.475 cents a pound, after rising for the previous 11 trading sessions. Consumers already are paying more, with the retail price of choice beef up 4% in July from December, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Further increases may be in the offing; last week alone wholesale prices climbed 3.2%. While some observers said the August rally may be short-lived, they also said the fundamentals of a cattle shortage and rising demand mean prices will remain high over the longer term...more

Egg recall results in push for food safety bill

The Senate’s yearlong failure to pass a food safety overhaul has hampered the ability of the Obama administration to quickly recall the 600 million eggs connected to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 2,000 people, experts and lawmakers say. The House approved its version of the food safety bill in July 2009 — that was more than 60 recalls of Food and Drug Administration regulated products ago, according to a report by the Make Our Food Safe coalition. But the Senate has continued to drag its feet. The pressure is now on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has consistently pushed the bill to the back burner. The pending legislation not only gives the FDA recall authority but also imposes stricter rules on mandatory inspections, trace-back protocol, access to company records and whistleblower protections — all of which are lacking in the current food safety law, which is more than 70 years old...more

Another "crisis" and another fed grab for power. We certainly don't want Obama and his sidekicks to be "hampered", now do we.

Read on and you will see the real reason for delay is an amendment attached by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.)which has driven former supporters to become opponents of the bill.

Hay bales finding lots of art fans

Hay fields across Montana and Wyoming are filling with round and square bales, providing feed for the winter and artistic opportunities for the creative. It is called ‘hay bale art’ and it is increasing in popularity around the nation. In Montana, the Utica County Fair has played a part growing the popular medium. Each year fair directors include a “Follow the Bale Trail” display on U.S. Highway 239. Nobody really knows how hay bale or straw bale art started. But, like those mysterious crop circles, it appears quietly around the world, showing up almost overnight on little-traveled country lanes, busy freeways, or near gravel roads. Around the country, a lot of bale art will sport holiday themes. Giant spiders and pumpkins lurk in fields at Halloween time. Massive turkeys, large enough to feed 50 to 100 hungry cattle, often show up at Thanksgiving; and Christmas time is sure to find white snow-bales stacked up to form a giant snowman large enough to cause the puny snowman in the neighbor’s yard to melt with shame. However, from Hobson to Utica to Windham, there is no theme and bales of all shapes and ideas dot the fields along the 20-miles stretch. The bales and their artistic titles will make you smile. Viewers may see a giant pink and black bottle of “Oil of Old Hay,” waiting longside a fence; a “Grizzly Bale” lumbering across a field; a gargantuan “Baled Bald Eagle” surveying the land; even two, brightly colored fish spend time “Finding Hay-mo” in a central Montana pasture...more

Baxter Black: If you only had a cowboy ...

There's an old saying, "A mule is as good as a horse, 'til you need a horse." Or, of course, the revorse! I saw a photo in the newspaper of a man standing in the surf trying to throw a rope around the tail of a beached baby humpback whale. My first thought was, "A marine mammal biologist is as good as a cowboy, 'til you need a cowboy." "If only I had a cowboy." How many times have you thought that yourself? Like two years ago when your cat got stuck up a tree. Sure, you called a firefighter. They showed up with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Then they broke out the ladders and attempted to climb up the tree. A cowboy would simply have roped the limb, dallied and bent the limb back double. Then, with true cowboy clarity, he would have shucked the dally, released the limb and catapulted the cat into the neighbors stock tank where the Navy SEALs could have rescued him! Or, say you were being picketed by the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the lunatic fringe for texting non-organic messages to caged hens encouraging them to "lay one for the team." You realize that reasonable dialogue with moon-eyed zealots is futile, so you call a cowboy...more

Song Of The Day #390

Today Ranch Radio presents Trailin' by Ray Whitley's Range Ramblers.

You will find the tune on a CD by various artists put out by Bronco Buster Records titled In The West Where Life Is Free.

Hot damn I like this kind of music.

Drug cartel suspected in massacre of 72 migrants

A Mexican drug cartel massacred 72 Central and South American migrants within 100 miles of the U.S. border that they were trying to reach, according to an Ecuadorean survivor who escaped and stumbled wounded to a highway checkpoint where he alerted marines, official said Wednesday. The marines fought the cartel gunmen at a ranch in the northern state of Tamaulipas on Tuesday, a battle that left one marine and three suspects dead. They found the bodies of 58 men and 14 women in a room, some piled on top of each other. The Ecuadorean migrant told investigators that his captors identified themselves as members of the Zetas drug gang, said Vice Adm. Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the Mexican Navy. Authorities believe the migrants were from Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil and Ecuador. It is the biggest massacre to date in Mexico's drug war and the most horrifying example yet of the dangers faced by immigrants trying to get to the U.S. Authorities did not say why the gang killed the migrants. Mexico's drug cartels frequently kidnap migrants and threaten to kill them unless they pay fees for crossing their territory. Sometimes, gangs contact relatives of the migrants in the U.S. and demand they pay a ransom...more

Grenade attack near Brownsville bridge has authorities on high alert

Mexican authorities responded Tuesday night to a shootout at Mexico’s attorney general’s office (PGR) in Matamoros and to a grenade that was thrown near B&M International Bridge. Sources say the incident began when a brief firefight broke out between Mexican military and armed gunmen at approximately 8 p.m. at the PGR offices on Sixth Street in Matamoros. It was not clear if anyone was injured or killed in this latest attack. During the attack, a grenade exploded near the Junta de Aguas y Drenajes facility a few yards away from B&M International Bridge. Because of the explosion, a number of federal, county and local law enforcement officials on the U.S. side of the border rushed to secure the area around the bridge. According to Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, the sheriff’s department SWAT team was deployed to the bridge to help secure the area and prevent any possible spillover of violence...more

Sheriff questions BP line patrol strategy

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever directed his attention to the Border Patrol last week. During an interview with KFI AM 640 on Aug. 18, Dever said it has come to his attention that Border Patrol agents are avoiding certain areas along the Southern Arizona border to avoid conflict. "Agents have told me - this isn't second hand - that there are places where they don't work right along the border because it's too dangerous," Dever said. "There is concern at the management level, at a certain level, that it's too dangerous right there on the fence." Dever said it is his understanding that management is concerned about Border Patrol agents getting into a fight with illegal immigrants and smugglers and fear such a confrontation could spark an "international incident." Dever stressed that not all management is taking this approach, but some are. If this is the case, Border Patrol agents are basically being told, "not to do their jobs," Dever said. "I've been hearing this anecdotally for some time, but now I have Border Patrol agents and their families telling me that this is the case," he added. In a written statement to Capitol Media Services, last week, the U.S. Border Patrol denied Dever's allegations. Dever said calls reporting dead bodies in the desert, drugs, home invasions and break ins related to illegal immigration will continue to increase and bog down law enforcement until something is done to secure the border...more