It was exposed last week that on April 9, private information about our nation's farmers was given to the largest anti-ag activists in the United States. This is totally illegal, and you might want to check into it to see if your representatives or senators are involved.
In looking into it, we found out that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has put out this private information on 80,000 livestock operations across the U.S. Senator Johanns of Nebraska, released this information to the public over the weekend. The acting EPA administrator, Bob Perciasepe, would be somebody to sure get hold of (US Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20460). He has gone ahead and released all this pertinent information about your outfit, and probably your neighbors' as well, to a number of anti-ag activist organizations that really are going to try to cause a lot of trouble in many ways for American ag producers.
Many of the Western states are involved, including Montana and Nebraska, and who knows if all the states in western America or those in production agriculture aren't involved as well. I'm afraid it could be.
Get hold of your senators and representatives and make sure that your records and other pertinent data about your outfit have not been not released through the Environmental Protection Agency or any of these anti-agriculture organizations - it's probably too late! They're trying to get at us in a big way, and it's totally illegal. They are requesting information through the recently enacted Freedom of Information Act, and all it is going to do is cause a lot of trouble and expense for American ag producers.
I hope that you, as a producer of agriculture here in America, will react to this affront and respond. We need to get on somebody's tail pretty hard. Thank you!
This Week's Loser...
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), who, more than most of her colleagues in Congress, should be well acquainted with how hard her constituents have worked to support mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL). Noem is a member of the House Ag Committee, which is marking up its version of the new Farm Bill, and she's sitting on her hands while marker language is being inserted in the bill that will leave the door open to repeal or gut COOL in joint conference between the House and Senate. Instead of speaking against the marker language and offering her own amendment to remove it, Noem appears to be staying loyal to her political action committee (PAC) contributors, which include the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), long-time opponents of mandatory COOL.
Next week we'll be taking a look at Noem's campaign donors and how much they're contributing to buy her silence. In the meantime, give her office a toll-free call at 855-225-2801 and let her know how you feel.
They'll try to tell you the language in the House Farm Bill just calls for an innocent study of COOL. In reality, it's a Beltway tactic that could very well be lethal for COOL. After all, COOL's opponents wrote it. They'll also try to tell you that Rep. Noem actually supports COOL. Tell 'em you're watching and that actions speak a whole lot louder than words. Stay tuned.
Heads up! MT leadership program applicants sought
Deadline May 31
Montana State University Extension is offering a new, two-year leadership program for professionals in agriculture and natural resource industries. The Resource Education & Agriculture Leadership (REAL) Montana training will include participant classes, tours, networking opportunities, and travel. The two-year program features eight in-state seminars, a five-day national study tour in Washington D.C., and a two-week international trip.
Seminars will include training in ag institutions and agencies, natural resource development, public speaking and media, economics, state and federal policy, international trade, urban-rural relationships, water issues, transportation, labor and production costs, entrepreneurship, and other current industry topics.
REAL Montana is limiting the inaugural class to approximately 20 participants that earn a substantial percentage of their livelihoods from Montana agriculture and/or natural resources and that have the willingness and aptitude to develop long-term leadership skills. No age restrictions. Program cost will be shared by participants and private industry sponsors. Applications are due by May 31.
By Lisa Schmidt
The faces in the room told the story. Their lives and livelihoods were about to go dry.
Mostly men, they were at the Conrad (Montana) Moose Lodge to try to understand how a lawsuit about who has the right to use which water -- Gene and Cheryl Curry and Curry Cattle Co. vs. PCCRC -- could make shares in their irrigation company vanish into thin air. Water Master Hugh McFadden concluded that plaintiffs Gene and Cheryl Curry should receive less water than they requested in their lawsuit and also that the defendant, Pondera County Canal and Reservoir Company (PCCRC), has been incorrectly transferring shares for 40 years and that storage rights did not exist for some of the oldest direct flow rights and for rights acquired by PCCRC after 1973.
If McFadden's 102-page ruling were implemented, PCCRC would reduce the number of irrigated acres by 21% -- from an allowed 72,000 to 57,075.
Curry, who also is a shareholder of the PCCRC, would no longer be allowed to fill one of his reservoirs and would effectively lose the ability to operate seven pivots.
The city of Conrad, which also owns shares in PCCRC and receives all of the town's water from the company, would be limited to 765.5 acre-feet of water and would no longer be allowed to sell water to individuals or towns beyond one mile of the Conrad city limits. Currently, the town of Brady, 10 miles south of Conrad, buys water from Conrad.
Since the water master's report was issued, orders for at least three pivots and one new tractor have been canceled by shareholders in PCCRC.
The Law of the Land
By Gene Curry
In a complicated and lengthy legal battle that began when PCCRC denied water to Gene and Cheryl Curry and Curry Cattle Co. for an entire year, many of the facts of the case have been lost in emotion and misinformation. It is impossible to condense five days of testimony, a century of water law, and 103 pages of findings of fact into a few short paragraphs. Nonetheless, I will try.
The facts went out, and the stage was set for the Pondera County (MT) Canal and Reservoir Co. (PCCRC) to gather a crowd and explain to their shareholders what had happened when Water Master Hugh McFadden issued his Master's Report in the case of Gene and Cheryl Curry and Curry Cattle Co. vs. PCCRC. The problem was the facts that went out in a notice of an informational meeting hosted by PCCRC were very inflammatory and intended to show how the company was victimized by McFadden's ruling. How did we get to this point?
NM horse slaughter plant faces more hurdles
New Mexico's Valley Meat Co. has another obstacle in its path to becoming a horse slaughterhouse. A Larkspur, Colorado, group, Front Range Equine Rescue, has notified the Roswell company and two federal agencies - the Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA - of its intent to sue for violation of the Clean Water Act.
Bruce Wagman, a partner at Schiff Hardin, a law firm representing Front Range Equine Rescue, said this issue goes back at least five years. "This is about the failure to obtain a permit for discharge of contaminants from storm water," he said. "It's an ongoing violation because, as far as we know, they had a Grant of Inspection for cow slaughter all those years and were in violation of the Clean Water Act every day they were doing it."
A USDA Grant of Inspection is required before meat from a slaughterhouse can be sold. Wagman said the agency doesn't necessarily look at Clean Water Act issues when it decides on this document, so it is possible to be approved for business without being in compliance.
Valley Meat's attorney, A. Blair Dunn, said the company will not be out of compliance by the end of the 60-day time period in the notice to sue. While the suit alleges that Valley Meat hasn't been in compliance with the Act, Wagman said, it is not known whether it has polluted water in the area. The waterways most likely to be affected, he said, are the Spring River Canal and the Pecos River, a place where people fish and swim. "The Pecos River runs near Valley Meat and communicates with underground channels that go through nearby lakes and streams in New Mexico," he said.
Thanks to Will Fischer of the Powder Horn Ranch at Nenzel, Nebraska, for sharing this good calving photo. He wrote: "My heifers have been making me crazy by letting any calf suck that wants to suck. This particular heifer is letting four calves suck! Haven't seen that before."