As the Fourth of July holiday gets further behind us, it appears as though things in Washington DC and with our President and things world wide continue to forge forward. Our President and his czars have gotten themselves into a real pickle, haven't they? Our President's biggest problem, in my opinion, is that he is an I/me/my President. Everything he gets seems to be asked for in such a way that it appears he's running the show. Congress doesn't have that much to say about it, but he with his telephone and his pen seems to think he can run the show. He CAN run a certain amount of the show with Presidential movements and decisions. But he thinks he can change most every law. I'm sure that a good share of what he's doing has to do with politics. He wants his administration to look good. He doesn't want his party to look bad, and he's doing most everything he can to keep it on the mainline and positive.
The truth is, however, that it is NOT doing well, and I don't see how in the world it can turn out well. This three-word President is going to be history if he keeps up what he's doing.
The mid-term election is coming up, and the 2016 big election isn't too far away. I think that the people in America who vote will do some thinking, that they will be using some common sense, and that they are probably going to enter that voting booth with a totally different frame of mind than they ever have before.
If they're truly Americans, if they care about America, if they care about freedom, if they care about opportunity, they will vote differently because the "I/me/my" crowd does not have a first thought in order for the United States of America, no sir. They say politically: "Do as I say; it's me or the highway." I firmly believe this is going to do them in. You cannot operate that way. I think that the situation is going to become desperate on their part because you cannot continue to steamroll over the top of people as our President and his crowd have been doing. We'll see some change.
In the meantime, we're continuing to see a fantastic demand for hamburger, probably the greatest we've ever seen in the history of this country on a large scale. This is evident as we get the auction market reports from across the country and see what these cull cows and used bulls are bringing. For the most part, they'll end up as hamburger in some grocery store across America. Next to that is a fabulous amount of interest in the high choice and prime products that are fed to be tender, wholesome, and tasty. And it isn't just our people. Foreign countries are willing to pay whatever those loins cost for a certain percentage of their more wealthy people. Between the two ends, we probably are going to continue to see a fantastic cattle market.
Lambs are selling oh so well compared to any era you want to look at. And the fact remains that nearly 80% of all the lamb consumed in the United States is within 80-100 miles of New York. That northeastern part of America consumes and demands lamb, and whatever it costs, they'll pay for it because they like it, they want it, and evidently they can afford it.
We're lucky to have the demand for hamburger that we're having in America. It's second to none in our history, and it is putting a support shelf underneath the total beef industry. Yes, sir, these are good times to be in the cattle business. But I reiterate what I believe and have written about many times this year: As you sell your lambs, yearlings and calves, cows, and cull bulls for a wonderful price, BE SURE to put some of that money on the shelf... in other words, save it. Put it where you can't spend it. Save it for a day when the need is greater on your part. It will come. There will come situations - like when another farm or ranch is available, when some equipment is necessary when you break down, when some more breeding cattle become available as your feed supply is ample. Whatever it is, cash will become king. You won't have to go to the bank and necessarily borrow it all to do your investing. Don't let yourself believe that some money on the shelf in a safe place isn't a good idea. Believe me: it's one of the best ideas ever. If you're in the cattle of business, the only thing better than a good stack of baled hay is money in the bank. Cash is king, and if you haven't noticed it yet, you will. It makes it much easier to talk to your banker about investing and borrowing. And if you also have quite a little money on the shelf in a bank, you will find that you have much less trouble getting a loan. It's been this way for quite a while, and there's a reason for it to be that way. So don't be fooled; save some and do it every time. Let it build to where, when you really want something and can really make a prudent purchase, you will have a good share of it in the palm of your hand.
As we roll past the Fourth, we're rolling into the biggest heat of summer. There are reports of lots of 90 and 100 degree weather, not just in the south and southwest but also in central and northwest America. Yes, it does take a lot of sweat and endeavor on your part and that of your family to endure the heat but in behind it will come the cool weather of Indian summer in the fall. Don't you love it? My favorite time of the year is Indian summer through September and October. That makes it all worthwhile. The cattle like it, you like it, and believe it or not, so do the kids! We like summer weather, but we dearly love the Indian summer. It's what makes all the turmoil worthwhile. Good luck for the summer, and remember to be sure to put some on the shelf!
Ditch The Rule!
By Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, August 2014
Americans expect straight talk from their government. If our government says something, we ought to be able to take it to the bank, as the saying goes.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is NOT meeting that expectation. Instead of making things clear when it comes to how the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule would affect farmers and other landowners, the EPA is muddying the waters.
Two Supreme Court rulings have limited EPA's and the Corps of Engineers' authority under the Clean Water Act to waters that are navigable or have a "significant nexus" to navigable waters. EPA claims that the rulings "complicated" the permitting process. The reality is not all that complicated: The agencies dislike the rulings and are simply trying to write regulations that allow them to do what the Supreme Court has said they cannot do: regulate nearly all waters.
EPA has said that it only wants to bring "clarity and consistency" to the process. That sounds reasonable. Good talking point. The only problem is the statement does NOT reflect what is in the proposed rule. The regulation will automatically regulate countless small and remote so-called "waters" that are usually dry and, in fact, look like land to you and me. This is far more than a "clarification." It is a dramatic expansion of federal power. Expanding the federal government's jurisdiction under the guise of bringing clarity and consistency to the process is the opposite of straight talk.
Read the fine print...
When regulators show up on farms and ranches, they won't be looking back at talking points to decide whether farming requires an expensive federal permit. They will use the regulation. So let's take a look at the fine print.
- Ditches. The rule regulates ditches as "tributaries." EPA claims that the rule would exclude ditches, but the so-called ditch exclusion only covers ditches dug entirely in "uplands." The rule doesn't define "uplands" (so much for clarity), but we know that uplands are not wetlands and that most ditches are "wetland" at some point along their length. That's just one reason Farm Bureau believes the narrow ditch "exclusion" will be meaningless.
- Farming Exemptions. EPA offers assurances that all farming and ranching exemptions are being preserved under the rule. But those exemptions are extremely limited when it comes to activities in jurisdictional waters. That's why the exemptions will not protect most ordinary farming and ranching from permit requirements if ditches and low spots in farm fields are regulated, as they will be under the proposed rule.
Under the rule, federal permits would be needed for common farming activities -- such as applying fertilizer and pesticides or moving cattle -- if materials that are considered pollutants would fall into regulated low spots or ditches. Farmers can't wait for federal permits to fertilize or protect their crops from pests and diseases. Permits also would be required for activities such as plowing, planting, and fencing in these new "waters of the U.S." areas unless a farmer has been farming the same land for decades, raising hurdles for beginning farmers.
Landowners could be in for a rude awakening, faced with penalties or lawsuits for the very things EPA says the rule doesn't cover. Farm Bureau is dedicated to preventing that from happening, and we thank those leaders in the House and Senate who, in a bipartisan manner, are standing up for farmers and other landowners.
We hope EPA officials will read the fine print. We have, and that's how we know it's time to Ditch The Rule!
Note: Bob Stallman is President of American Farm Bureau Federation.
Beware of the "work-around" gang's goals and motives
By Catherine Vandemoer, Ph.D.
The Flathead Irrigation & Power Project (FIPP) was conceived of in 1908 to benefit all the residents of the Congressionally-opened Flathead Indian Reservation, Indian and non-Indian alike. In support of this plan, the United States appropriated or reserved water under state law from nearly all of the Flathead River and contemplated storage behind a dam (now Kerr Dam) for the purpose of making sure the irrigation project was a success. By 1926, 80% of the irrigable land under the FIPP was owned by the non-Indian settlers who had been invited by the United States to settle on the Flathead Indian Reservation and who purchased land from individual Indians or homesteaded other parcels under the public land laws of the United States.
The power part of the FIPP contemplated using the valuable irrigation water rights appropriated by the United States under state law to generate electrical power for reservation and regional development. In exchange for the use of those water rights, the irrigation districts were given a low cost block of power. All the way around, the FIPP has been a success, irrigating approximately 130,000 acres of land which generates more than $80 million for the local economy, not to mention contributing to the tax base of Lake, Sanders, and Missoula Counties through taxes on 90% of the privately held land base within the irrigation project.
Congress directed that, once the construction costs of the FIPP were paid, the project would be transferred to the owners of the irrigated land. The FIPP was fully paid off in the year 2003, and by law, the project is to be transferred to the owners of the irrigated land, now 90% non-Indian. Once the project is transferred, it no longer has a "federal" imprint.
Previous Tribal efforts to lawfully take over the FIPP have been rejected by the United States. In 2007, the Tribes sought to have the control of the FIPP turned over to them under a federal self-determination law which provides that federal projects "built for the benefit of Indians because of their status as Indians" could be managed by Indians. However, the United States rejected the Tribes' argument based on analysis of the Treaty of Hellgate, the 1904 Flathead Allotment Act, and the 1908 Amendment to the FAA.
Enter the proposed water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). Both the Treaty of Hellgate (Article VI) and the Flathead Allotment Act of 1904 authorized the sale of surplus land on the reservation for the Tribes' benefit once all the individual Indian allotments were given (without cost) to the Indians who availed themselves of this opportunity. The proposed CSKT Compact, however, requires irrigators to give up their water rights to the ownership of the Tribes in exchange for a reduced amount of water far lower than historic use. This plan was ruled an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation by a District Court Judge in February 2013.
Moreover, both the proposed Compact and the recently-filed CSKT lawsuit challenging federal land laws have as their goal the complete takeover, ownership, and eventual decommissioning of the FIIP. There are more than 2,000 families, including Indians, which are the target of these aggressive efforts. The Tribes' lawsuit claims that ALL the privately-held fee land on the reservation, and within the irrigation project, belongs to the Tribes.
In effect, the proposed Compact is a "work around" to the "inconvenient" laws of the United States that have rejected the Tribes' transparent effort to destroy the FIPP. What is more stunning is that the Compact Commission bought the Tribes' argument hook, line, and sinker and, on behalf of the Tribes, directed the irrigation districts to turn over their water rights to the Tribes as part of the Compact. So despite the Compact Commission's claim to "protect irrigators," it is, in fact, doing the Tribes' bidding and, in the process, failing to represent or protect Montana citizens.
Indeed, a recent report in the Tribes' newspaper, the Charkoosta, indicated that the state has asked the Tribes for permission to take over the Flathead Joint Board of Control (FJBC) for the purposes of moving the Compact forward to the Montana legislature. The FJBC is a local government not subject to the whims of a politically-driven state executive.
The Governor's recent letter proposing a "limited renegotiation" of the irrigation water use agreement is nothing more than a transparent attempt to eliminate the irrigation districts from any discussion as to the disposition and ownership of their lands and water rights. Tribal attorneys have made it clear: nothing will change in the Water Use Agreement with this limited re-opening. The plan is to insert the water use agreement into the Compact the way it is by "negotiating" with the Compact Commission, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the federal government (also represented by BIA attorneys).
So the FIIP, and the thousands of families reliant upon irrigation for their livelihood, are outnumbered 3 to 1: they are fighting the state (Compact Commission), the Tribes, and the federal government. The Compact Commission could easily be labeled the "work around gang" as every action they have taken in the proposed CSKT Compact has been intended to ignore, violate, or work around the existing legal framework which requires the Tribes to determine their federal reserved water rights, not the determination and elimination of the irrigation community's water rights.
No wonder the Tribes and the Compact Commission want this compact so badly. If they had to submit their claims in a court of law, they could very well be denied everything in the proposed Compact because a court has to follow the law, not "work around" it.
Note: Catherine Vandemoer, Ph.D., is a consultant working with Concerned Citizens of Western Montana. She can be reached through the blog site www.westernmtwaterrights.wordpress.com
Free-roaming bison in MT are NOT a feasible option...
The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) shared ideas for the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Bison Management Plan at meetings held July 14 and 15 in Billings. The meetings, facilitated by FWP, brought together representatives from a variety of interest groups including agriculture, legislators, sportsmen, conservation districts, landowners, and wildlife groups. These meetings were the continuation of work begun in 2012. The 2012 public hearings discussed alternative locations for bison herds. The discussion group met in September 2013 to review ideas and in Billings last week to continue the discussion. "At the meeting in Billings, we assembled in small groups, and each group developed an alternative to managing another bison herd in Montana," said Chelcie Cremer, MFBF Director of State Affairs. "MFBF members have serious concerns about establishing a bison herd in Montana, and we need to make sure those concerns are represented, acknowledged, and understood in this process. Whether or not someone agrees with a bison management plan, it's important to talk about it and discuss ideas."
Cremer said that the groups had four main categories to discuss: location, management, funding, and designation. "With regard to location, we talked about where to go with a new herd and where bison might be more tolerated by landowners than other locations," she said. "Of course, management is extremely critical. There must be absolute assurance that there will be local input and local control over managing a potential herd, and if there is a problem, there must be a timely and appropriate response."
Cremer indicated that one huge consideration before other decisions could be made would be the cost of implementing and maintaining a bison program. "Most of the alternatives that were created at this meeting included a stipulation that this plan doesn't go into effect until there is funding available. There are questions as to whether the program is privately or publicly funded or both. The funding issue needs to be addressed and answered."
The last of the four points, designation, was whether bison should be considered wildlife or livestock. The designation would make a difference in how the animals are managed and handled. "Two definite facts brought to light at this meeting were that the alternative of "no action" was still on the table, meaning that nothing will change and that a bison herd will not become a reality. Secondly, the idea of a free-roaming herd is unacceptable. Everyone, including the director of FWP, agrees that free-roaming bison are not a feasible option," noted Cremer.
Cremer said MFBF was pleased to have a seat at the table. "We want to make sure that landowner interests are represented and that private property rights are maintained. It's essential that ag practices and grazing opportunities are unaltered and that local economies will not be negatively impacted," said Cremer. "Certainly there must be accountability and responsibility every step of the way for the bison management plan."
The discussion group will reconvene in the coming weeks to review the alternatives before FWP prepares a draft for public comment.
- MFBF, 7/16
Whistleblower retaliation problems at USFWS
By Leesa Zalesky
On July 8, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is wrongfully withholding documents that detail why top agency officials refused to act on findings of scientific integrity reviews confirming serious misconduct by agency managers. Some of the misconduct reportedly involves political interference with endangered species research relevant to the Keystone XL pipeline permit. The whistleblowers, who are agency biologists and had identified scientific integrity violations, finally went to the Inspector General's office with their discoveries after the reprisals began.
PEER says that, in the spring of 2013, two separate panels found two managers of the USFWS Oklahoma Ecological Services field office guilty of misconduct in two separate cases, and months followed without any action by USFWS leadership, including Director Dan Ashe. The investigation came about when three agency biologists discovered scientific integrity violations and exposed them in 2012. The two guilty managers were not demoted or suspended and, instead, were allowed to continue employment until both ultimately found new jobs. One of the individuals secured a high-level position with the U.S. Forest Service, and both, it is alleged, rushed into publication of a bogus scientific journal article to cover their tracks.
However, the whistleblowers that brought about the investigations suffered serious blowback, according to PEER, including unpaid suspensions and other punishments. The three scientists finally went to the Department of Interior Inspector General after the reprisals against them began and it became clear that agency leadership did not intend to discipline the supervisors who engaged in the improper conduct. According to an Inspector General's report on the matter, USFWS Director Dan Ashe ignored months of "stern warnings" on the need to discipline the two supervisors who retaliated against the whistleblowers. In July 2013, Deputy Interior Inspector General Mary Kendall issued a public rebuke in the farm of a Management Advisory saying, "The Office of Inspector General requests that immediate action be taken to address an unreasonable and inappropriate response regarding the discipline of two USFWS supervisors who engaged in scientific misconduct and apparently retaliated against three USFWS employees in 2012. The failure to take timely and appropriate management action by USFWS senior leadership, including Director Dan Ashe, damages the credibility and integrity of the Department of the Interior and the USFWS Science program as well as senior leadership."
Kendall continued, as reported by Environment & Energy Daily: "The actions taken against the complainants sends a strong and negative message to USFWS employees who have a duty to report lack of integrity or misconduct pursuant to the Department of Interior's science policy or even to raise issues of concern at the lowest possible level. This case is disturbing in the sense that no one seems to have thanked the biologists for their passion for good science and for the courage it took for them to report misconduct at significant risk to their professional and personal well-being."
The scientific integrity report about the two cases only came to light after PEER appealed a USFWS decision to refuse release of the document. PEER appealed under the Freedom of Information Act, and today, those redacted reports are available on the PEER website. PEER says the agency continues to balk at turning over other reports and communications from USFWS leadership and is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force their release. "How can official efforts to guarantee scientific integrity have any credibility if they are exercised only in security?" asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Progress in protecting science from political interference requires that the courageous scientists who exposed this corruption are fully vindicated."