Sunday, July 26, 2015

I can't believe all this happened...A note from THE WESTERNER

Regular readers will have noticed fewer posts to this blog.  The reasons are listed below, all occurring in the last three weeks:

First my well went on the blink, but not without first pumping dirt and sand into every pipe in the house.  The well is fixed, but the plumber has been out here twice.  Pipes were flushed, but we didn't have hot water for five days and the washing machine still sounds funny.

Then the tilt mechanism on my power chair went out.  May not sound like much but it plays hell with me getting around the house and is a big hindrance and safety factor when entering or exiting the van. I'm looking at six weeks + for the parts and repairs.

Sharon caught strep throat, the same stuff that put her in the hospital several months ago.

Next the motor burned up on my refrigerated air unit.  And they're right:  heat is not good for ms patients.

I had a tooth extraction and it was one of the big ones.

Friday afternoon the power was out for three hours.

And last night the power was out from around 11pm till 5:30 this morning.  This drove home how a person who lives in front of a computer, sits in a power chair and has a power bed, is damn vulnerable to power outages.

Luckily I got to see Dillashaw kick Barao's ass before everything went dark.

I'm way behind on responding to emails, but will try to catch up.  If its really important you better resend.


Roy Gunter - Cattle, horses, and red hair brilliance

Of presidents and cow buyers
Roy Gunter
Cattle, horses, and red hair brilliance
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The American Southwest is hard on genes that evolved in the coastal mists of Western Europe.
            The intensity of the sunlight, the constant, in-your-face winds, and the low humidity compete for the domination of authority over freckles and red hair. It is a losing proposition that eventually wears out the toughest opponents.
In the midst of this life battle, though, the most interesting stories are created in full color and must be shared. The most enduring don’t come from the Shakespearean dreariness of lives of quiet desperation. They come from the engagement of living without pretense. The very physical features that make old men out of young elevate a few into the status of lasting respect. The importance of what they accomplished doesn’t have to pass scrutiny by anyone but those they touched. There are perhaps a half dozen in my life that have earned that kind of respect.
Roy Gunter is one.
As a young man fresh out of college, I fed cattle for Roy Gunter.
I wasn’t around him very long, but he left a huge impression on me. We had met at our kitchen table discussing the deal. He treated me with respect, and I now suspect he was as hopeful of my eventual success as I place in certain young men that I now watch with interest.
His memory was stirred by meeting his great granddaughter a couple of days ago. She was sitting behind a desk at the Luna County manager’s office with whom I had a scheduled meeting. Another staffer had wished me a fabulous Friday and I had casually responded by saying something about there being no difference in Friday or Saturday or any other day for that matter.
The young lady caught the gist of my comment and quickly reaffirmed the fact that weekends have become work days for all ranches. She, too, had spent last weekend working cattle with her own granddad.  It was then I asked what her name was. Her granddad was Roy’s only son.
“Yes, I know him,” I told her.
Knowing he also suffers from the ravages of sun sensitive skin I didn’t tell her of the first memory that came to my mind. It was when he leaned in against the cab of my pickup now 42 years ago peering into the mirror and fiddling with a place on his lip.
“Do you think it is serious?” he had asked me quizzically.
I responded by telling him I suspected he would probably live until he died …
What had made the biggest impression on me when I first knew both father and son was the relationship they seemingly had. Roy had the reputation of being a steel driving disciplinarian and yet the son showed no inclination to resent or challenge that fierce and competitive edge. They worked together, and, if there was conflict, they certainly didn’t display it publicly.
I respected that.
In time, I also got to know both of Roy’s daughters. True to their dad’s form, they are both mentally and physically tough, and they fight the same sun sensitive ravages of his red hair and light complexion. Perhaps that is the common theme that has truly united us all. They don’t make sleeves long enough or hat brims that are wide enough to keep us in the shade!
The Story
What Roy gave he could also take away.
The first pen of cattle I fed for him was both an exciting and disappointing experience. He was in the pen several times a week and he grilled me about the amount of whole kernels of wheat in the droppings. We tightened the grinder down and he still was not satisfied telling me one day he was going to take the cattle out. He couldn’t afford me.
That was followed by me calling him to summarize measured results. He had another pen of similar cattle at another feedlot and he told me what they were costing him. I arrayed the two results. I showed him how we were actually cheaper on a per pound of gain basis.
He brought cattle back.
Meanwhile, I got to watch him from afar and study his methods. Those were the days when you could order trucks just about any way you wanted them. Air conditioners were not even discussed. I think he did put heaters in his ranch trucks, but he wouldn’t allow a pickup or bobtail to have a radio in it.
“Those boys are supposed to be working not listening to the radio,” he lectured me.
The day we unloaded the first calves, the lead steer jumped out of the truck only to crash through the loading chute. We immediately got the gate on the trailer shut and then rebuilt the chute. The air was blue for 30 minutes as Roy discussed in detail the pedigree of the recent past owner of those corrals, but what he was really doing was telling me, without cussing me, that I should have been better prepared.
On another day, we were sorting calves and I pressed a high headed steer calf only to have him climb through the fence. Whoa …
Again, the sky got bluer as he discussed the point that “We work all (bleep) day and the rider on the gray horse doesn’t have the sense to be a cowman who ought to know (bleep) well that calf needed more support, and, now, we have to waste (bleep) time fiddling because the rider on the gray horse had his head up his (bleep) and we have to clean this mess up!”
I was two feet tall when the sky started to lighten enough to see, but I was a better cowboy. At least the rider on the (bleep) gray horse was a better cowboy.
His compassion or lack thereof in the heat of battle wasn’t just aimed at employees or colleagues. It extended to his kids.
One of the daughters was bitten by a rattlesnake in the branding pen one day when Roy owned the western half of the Corralitos. Assuming she should have had enough sense to avoid such matters, Roy served notice nobody was going to go to the doctor until the remaining calves were branded. They packed the bite in ice and finished the calves.
Needless to say, the memories of the days on the Corralitos, drought, and the shortage of help remains strongly imprinted in the mind of that Gunter offspring.
The race
Cowboys from neighboring counties around Luna County where Roy built his business knew him first for his cowboy skills. He was reputed to be a heck of a hand in the arena. He was also known by the horses he rode. He rode good horses and the ones I was around always fit the description of the “good lookin’ Gunter horses”. They were generally quiet and always athletic.
There is a great story when Roy was still buying bulls in numbers in Mexico. They were unloading bulls in a corral somewhere south of Deming and Roy was observing the proceedings while sitting horseback out from the pens. One wild bull came off the truck and never stopped. He jumped the fence on a line from the chute and there, in his line of sight, sat Roy on his snoozing horse.
The bull dropped his head and shifted gears.
Either Roy got the horse’s attention or the horse came to his senses and swapped ends in a heartbeat. For the next 75 yards, legend has it the horse’s rear end was trying to outrun his front end as the bull was trying to get his horns up under any part of the horse he could reach. The observations were Roy never touched a spur to the horse, but was inwardly cheering the outcome of the race. He was hoping the horse would prevail!
He never said much after the dust settled and the bull continued in the general direction of Mexico.
He was talking, however, another morning when President Nixon failed to alter the course of the Arab oil embargo which led to the crash of the cattle market.
“Hell, there is no difference in a president and me other than he is a little bigger cow trader than I am!” he had concluded. “But, I’ll guarantee you I could run this country better than the (bleep) fellow in that chair!”
The chances are he could have run the country better. Roy would have pulled his hat down and left his long sleeves buttoned. He wouldn’t have listened to the radio, either. He wouldn’t have cared in the least what others thought of him, and he, too, would have delivered all his speeches impromptu without the aid … of any (bleep) teleprompter.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “If there are heroes in my life … Roy Gunter is one.”

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowpunchers melting pot

By Julie Carter

Cowboys have their own style that has evolved through a century of working their trade.  Though widely imitated by everyone from John Travolta to a Wall Street wanna-be, the true essence of genuine is rarely captured.

Often the differences between imitation and genuine are so subtle only another cowboy can discern them. 

Cowboys will usually judge the other by the first impression. Initially, it will be the hat and boots on the cowboy followed by the tack (saddle etc.) that the horse is wearing. After that, the real test comes when observing a man’s skill with a horse or his handling of cattle.

Unique to the occupation, cowboy style will vary with every hundred miles of geography depending on weather, terrain, types of cattle work and necessities of the occupation.

The Texas Panhandle is said to draw the largest concentration of cattle on feed anywhere in the world. That makes it about the best place in the world to catch the largest number of working cowboys in the same place at any one time.

Some come from ranch owning families and others from working ranch hand families. Others come from South Texas or are buckaroos from Nevada. More than a few have waded the Rio Grande having cowboyed their way from Chihuahua to El Paso.

Many arrive from places where towns crowded them out, while others are kids working their way through college. A fair number have diplomas and are paying their dues at the bottom of the ladder before they go on to manage one of the mammoth feed yards.

Occasionally one will have come west from the piney woods of southeastern United States after deciding he was tired of driving cattle trucks hauling stocker cattle to the feedlots in the Texas Panhandle.  In the winters they will drift down from Montana, the Dakotas, Kansas and anywhere the climate is reputedly more fierce.

The major portion of the Texas Panhandle cowboys are homegrown panhandle ranch hands coming to “town” to work the feedlots for awhile. They can always count on employment, a steady paycheck and almost none of them have any illusions about the romance of cowboying.

This melting pot of cowboy types, unless raised at the feedlots, will be overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of confined cattle. Most will have come from places where sections of land scattered cattle far and wide. They will bring their good horses who will likewise be appalled by the dust, mud and endless multitude of gates to be opened horseback.

The Panhandle feedlot cowboys are a colorful lot and perform an absolutely critical function for the cattle industry. Owners of the cattle in the feed yards, feedlot managers and feedlot owners recognize that these men are the backbone of this labor intensive operation.

Decades may pass, but the look changes only a little in style. Under it all are young men with a dream. The cowboys themselves just look at it as their jobs—another part of being a cowboy. In good cowboy style, they just enjoy being punchers.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Editors note:  This is a Carter column from three years agp/

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

New York Times
A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature. Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago. City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show. These developments seem to be linked to some extent, according to a growing body of research. Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside. But just how a visit to a park or other green space might alter mood has been unclear. Does experiencing nature actually change our brains in some way that affects our emotional health?  That possibility intrigued Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who has been studying the psychological effects of urban living. In an earlier study published last month, he and his colleagues found that volunteers who walked briefly through a lush, green portion of the Stanford campus were more attentive and happier afterward than volunteers who strolled for the same amount of time near heavy traffic. But that study did not examine the neurological mechanisms that might underlie the effects of being outside in nature. So for the new study, which was published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Bratman and his collaborators decided to closely scrutinize what effect a walk might have on a person’s tendency to brood...more

To all urban dwellers who experience "anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses" or who want to be "more attentive and happier", feel free to have parks and green spaces in your city.  But for heaven's sake quit giving heart attacks and headaches to your country kin who are trying to scratch out a living and then have wilderness or national monuments ruin their life, just so you can visit a "natural environment".  

The next thing you know more national monuments will be required because of some subsection of Obamacare.

FDA to ban trans fat

In all the hubbub around the Supreme Court’s big end-of-session rulings on same-sex marriage and Obamacare, some high-level banana-republicanism was overlooked. The FDA has given American food manufacturers three years to get the “trans fat” out of their food. Trans fat, as you may know, is a type of fat that’s partially hydrogenated—reacted with hydrogen—to discourage its melting at room temperature. Trans fats became popular in the United States a couple of decades ago after the food police frightened everyone into using them instead of wonderful saturated fats like butter and lard, wrongly deemed an imminent threat to the nation’s arteries. (As an aside, The Scrapbook rarely feels sorry for millennials, but those of us old enough to remember the pre-1990 McDonald’s fries, cooked in beef tallow, can attest that the world really was a better place then.) Eating trans fats increases the quantity of low-density lipoprotein in your bloodstream—that is, LDL cholesterol, or so-called bad cholesterol. LDL transports fat around your body; without it you’d die. It’s only bad if you have too much of it. Of course, almost any harmless thing can kill you in excess. If the FDA gets its way, trans fat in processed foods will go the way of lead in paint and asbestos in insulation. But there’s a major difference: Lead is inherently toxic and asbestos is inherently carcinogenic. Trans fat is inherently harmless—what’s dangerous is using it to excess...more

Its Prohibition again.  Back then, though, it took a Constitutional amendment to ban a product. Now, apparently, it just takes a reg.  Will the food police create a black market for trans fats the way the feds did for alcohol?  Will we see a Kid Cholesterol and his gang of Trans Fat Toughies surreptitiously providing consumers with an illegal product?  Will we See Elliot Mess and his FDA agents breaking up barrels of trans fat?  Is a wanted poster for Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar in our near future?

Probably not.  You see industry has already removed this from 86% of their products and there has been a 78% decline in the consumption of trans fats.  That's a free market responding to consumer demand, long before FDA bungled their way into the issue.

The power is back on...after 6+ hours

We had a heckuva storm here last...mucho lightning and the rain coming down in sheets...the power went off around 11 pm and just came back no The Westerner until much later today as the kid is hitting the sack.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Happy Day of The American Cowboy!

S. RES. 219

Designating July 25, 2015, as “National Day of the American Cowboy”.

July 9, 2015
Mr. Enzi (for himself, Mr. Barrasso, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Risch, Ms. Heitkamp, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Tester, Mr. Rounds, Mr. Lankford, Mr. Thune, and Mr. Hoeven) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to

Designating July 25, 2015, as “National Day of the American Cowboy”.
Whereas pioneering men and women, recognized as “cowboys”, helped to establish the American West;
Whereas the cowboy embodies honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, respect, a strong work ethic, and patriotism;
Whereas the cowboy spirit exemplifies strength of character, sound family values, and good common sense;
Whereas the cowboy archetype transcends ethnicity, gender, geographic boundaries, and political affiliations;
Whereas the cowboy, who lives off the land and works to protect and enhance the environment, is an excellent steward of the land and its creatures;
Whereas cowboy traditions have been a part of American culture for generations;
Whereas the cowboy continues to be an important part of the economy through the work of many thousands of ranchers across the United States who contribute to the economic well-being of every State;
Whereas millions of fans watch professional and working ranch rodeo events annually, making rodeo one of the most-watched sports in the United States;
Whereas membership and participation in rodeo and other organizations that promote and encompass the livelihood of cowboys span every generation and transcend race and gender;
Whereas the cowboy is a central figure in literature, film, and music and occupies a central place in the public imagination;
Whereas the cowboy is an American icon; and
Whereas the ongoing contributions made by cowboys and cowgirls to their communities should be recognized and encouraged: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) designates July 25, 2015, as “National Day of the American Cowboy”; and

(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Obama, Iran & U.S. Marines

California animal activists arrested after releasing 5,740 mink and destroying property

Two animal-rights activists have been charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which they released about 5,740 mink from farms and vandalized the homes and businesses of industry members, the FBI said Friday. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Joseph Brian Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Juanita Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, Calif., and federal prosecutors charged them with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Friday said the two caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages during 40,000 miles of cross-country trips over the summer and into the fall of 2013. They allegedly slashed vehicles' tires, glued businesses' locks or smashed windows, vandalizing property in San Diego, Spring Valley and La Mesa, California. They are also charged with vandalizing and attempting to flood the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, home of an employee of the North American Fur Auctions...more

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Evidence Proves 'El Chapo' Did Not Escape, He Was Let Go

Many experts in Mexico and around the world are still unclear just how high complicity is in the alleged escape of powerful and wanted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, but what is becoming clearer, as further evidence is revealed, is that the Sinaloa cartel leader was allowed to leave jail. The Ministry of the Interior told reporters Thursday that there are five main facts that prove that Guzman was let go from prison, including the fact that his GPS prisoner tracking bracelet was deactivated long before his escape. “Prison officials also deactivated the motion sensor alarms throughout the maximum security jail in Almoloya de Juarez (about 60 miles north of Mexico City) enabling Joaquin Guzman's people to excavate the complex, high-tech and highly precise tunnel into his cell,” the ministry added. The prison officials also neglected to follow cell rotation regulations for El Chapo: he was left in the same cell since he was locked up 17 months ago after his arrest in February 2014. The surveillance camera in Guzman's cell was also moved, apparently in order to allow for a blind spot in the shower area. In spite of this, guards arguably should have still been alert to his suspicious behavior: the video still clearly reveals El Chapo looking at the floor of the shower and tightening his shoelaces, before heading to the shower area one last time, crouching suspiciously and disappearing. Guzman was also allowed, against all prison regulations, to receive over 500 visitors, including lawyers, friends and intimate visits with women...more

Insiders discuss escape by "El Chapo"

...The gathering last week at Le Peep cafĂ© in San Antonio would seem unusual almost anywhere except south Texas, where Mexico kind of blends into the United States—and so does the drug trade. Seated next to the cartel operative was a senior Mexican intelligence official. And next to him was a veteran American counternarcotics agent. They bowed their heads for prayer and then proceeded to talk a peculiar kind of shop. A few days earlier, Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficker, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, had escaped again from one of that country’s maximum-security prisons. No one in this deeply sourced group was surprised. Nor were they particularly interested in the logistical details of the escape, although they clearly didn’t believe the version they’d heard from the Mexican government. They were convinced it was all a deal cut at some link in the system’s chain. Our breakfast minister even thought that Chapo had likely walked out the front door of the jail, and that the whole tunnel-and-motorcycle story had been staged to make the feat sound so ingenious that the government couldn’t have foreseen it, much less stopped it. Such an outlandish notion may not be surprising to anyone who knows anything about Mexico. But as someone who lived there for 10 years, and reported on the country almost twice that long, what surprised me were the men’s theories on why anyone in the Mexican government would have been interested in such a deal. Perhaps, I wondered aloud, Chapo had possessed information that could have incriminated senior Mexican officials in the drug trade and, rather than try him, they had agreed to turn a blind eye to his escape? The heads around the table shook back and forth. Chapo, they believed, had been thrown back into the drug world to—wait for it—restore order. Things have gotten that crazy. “When I first heard the news, I thought this is either a good thing or a bad thing,” said the cartel operative. “Either this is a sign of how far things in Mexico are out of control. Or this shows that the government is willing to risk a certain amount of international embarrassment in order to restore peace for Mexican people.” Surely I’d been out of Mexico too long, I told the table. How could anyone believe that Chapo’s escape would be good for public security? They pointed to what’s been happening in his absence. The levels of drug violence in Mexico have begun to surge. An ascendant cartel, known as Jalisco Nueva Generacion (the New Generation Jalisco), has launched breathtaking attacks against security forces and public officials. Led by yet another ruthless killer named Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, the cartel has set up armed roadblocks to search cars driving into and out of some of the most important cities in central Mexico, in order to keep out its rivals. And when authorities have attempted to stop the organization’s members, they’ve fought back with some serious firepower. A spectacular rocket attack earlier this year downed a military helicopter, and a rampage against Mexican police left 15 officers dead in a day. Chapo, my breakfast companions said, was forged in the early years of the drug war. He was old-school. And for all his lunacy and willingness to do whatever it took to build his empire, he had been a kind of mitigating force—killing when he was betrayed, but staying away as much as possible from attacks against the government as long as the government allowed his business to operate. If he were allowed to get back to business, the breakfast bunch said, he’d take care of El Mencho—most likely in a spate of violence that, while painful, would be quietly treated by Mexican authorities as a necessary evil. And whichever cartel leaders remained standing would be much weakened...more

Of Men and Wolves - The challenge of reintroducing the Mexican wolf and its journey home

Reintroducing a predator species to its historical habitat manifests dispute between wildlife agencies, environmental organizations, and people who are affected by the animals' presence on the landscape. The effort to reestablish the Mexican wolf in Arizona and New Mexico has met many challenges because the wolf competes with human use of the land. Wolves roam among domestic animals, threatening the livelihood of ranchers and perhaps altering the future of public land and the wilderness. Despite differences, and in some cases, opposition to the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf, the challenges have been met with sometimes ingenious, and sometimes practical and straightforward solutions. "The reintroduction of the Mexican wolves was the most difficult of any projects to reintroduce wolves anywhere," L. David Mech said. Mech is a senior research scientist at the Northern Prairie Research Center with the U.S. Geological Survey. He has studied wolves for almost 60 years. "The animals were all captive-bred and lacked the skills to survive in the wild," Mech said. Even though the wolves were catching elk, initially they also attacked livestock and roamed near human activity. "They were released in an environment that lacks large, expansive wilderness areas free of livestock." Conflict was inevitable...Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised the section (10)j regulations to the Endangered Species Act regarding the Mexican wolf. Among other changes, the new guidelines include increasing the recovery area so the wolf can expand farther north into Arizona and New Mexico and south into its historical range in Mexico. Increasing the Mexican wolf's territory has advantages, but expanding its range into desert and other unsuitable habitat not part of its historical habitat could harm recovery and management efforts. The more wolves that get into trouble in those less suitable areas translate into more management. "We already lack the funding to launch a larger-scale wolf recovery program," deVos, from Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. Only a tiny portion of historical habitat remains in the U.S. Southwest, he said. The southwestern U.S. comprised about 10 percent of the Mexican wolf's original range, with the remaining 90 percent in Mexico. "They aren't called Mexican wolves for any other reason than they came from Mexico," deVos said...more

House Votes To Stop GMO Labeling

A bill that would pre-empt state laws requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods passed the House of Representatives Thursday. It would replace any mandatory GMO labeling laws with a voluntary labeling program for nonGMO foods similar to the one for organic labeling that’s now run by the USDA. The Senate Agriculture Committee hasn’t yet advanced a companion bill introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), so the existing state GMO labeling laws in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut haven’t been voided yet. Still, a host of agricultural groups hailed the House vote. “The passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is a significant victory for the freedom of soybean farmers to make the most of the broad range of advances that biotechnology provides for our industry,” said Wade Cowan, American Soybean Association President and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. The bill also drew praise from the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, whose president, Bob Stallman, said in a statement: “Congress stood with farmers and ranchers today in supporting innovation that helps the environment and keeps food prices down for everyone. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would protect consumers from confusing and misleading GMO labels and create a national, voluntary labeling standard based on science and common sense.”...more 

All these ag groups supported taking authority away from states and vesting it in the federal government.  The power flow would look something like this:


And here I thought we were working to do just the opposite. 

Senators seek COOL solution

North Dakota’s senators say they hope to placate Canada and Mexico by making country of origin labeling of U.S. meats voluntary — but that may not be enough. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., joined Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to introduce the Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, repealing mandatory country of origin labeling for beef, pork and chicken. In May, the World Trade Organization ruled for the fourth time that the U.S. mandatory COOL law violates international trade agreements. The WTO has started arbitration to determine the level of retaliation that Canada and Mexico will be authorized to implement. “Retaliatory tariffs won’t just impact meat producers and processors but will also affect consumers, businesses and jobs, so Sen. Stabenow and I have developed a solution that should work for all of them,” Hoeven said in a statement. “We cannot put ourselves in a position where Canada and Mexico can retaliate against us for mandatory country of origin labeling, but we can have a voluntary labeling program and still meet WTO requirements.” The move was meant to avoid tariffs by Canada and Mexico, but the Canadians are still expressing disapproval...more

Ag producers have always fought for less regulation on themselves, but with COOL were imposing more regulation on a different sector of the food chain.  Don't regulate ME but regulate THEE seems inconsistent to me.  And if a program is voluntary, then let it be voluntary without any federal or USDA involvement.

Hoeven said making the program voluntary will maintain “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States" standards for Grade A labeling of meats while meeting WTO mandates. He said the label serves as a marketing tool.

If left alone to do so, ag producers and their organizations are perfectly capable of developing their own marketing tools.

“Families in North Dakota and across the country want to know where the meat they buy and serve comes from,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.

If that statement is accurate, rest assured the industry will quickly move to satisfy the demand, without any federal rules or mandates. 

Running to Uncle Sam to solve all our problems has been a disaster for agriculture, and it's time we put a stop to it.

Lawsuit targets cattle grazing in Fremont-Winema National Forest

Three environmental groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over claims that livestock grazing in the Fremont-Winema National Forest is harming two federally protected fish species. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Western Watersheds Project, Oregon Wild and Friends of Living Oregon Waters, alleges that forest managers have violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing ranchers to turn out cattle in the forest despite evidence that the grazing is imperiling Lost River and shortnose suckers – two endangered fish found only in the Klamath Basin. The agency monitors grazing within the forest with an eye on how it affects suckers, but the plaintiffs allege agency officials have ignored their own data indicating that grazing livestock have eroded streambanks and reduced water quality in the fishes' critical habitat. They also allege ranchers have repeatedly violated the terms of their permits with no recourse from the Forest Service...more

Ranching history preserved in old barns

FORT KLAMATH — There was a time the barns at the Nicholson Ranch were jammed with milking cows, draft horses and all sorts of ranching odds-and-ends. The cows and horses are gone, but the barns resonate with the history of times past. “I think we've got to preserve the past,” quietly but forcefully insists Bill Nicholson, 80, whose grandfather, William Elmore Nicholson, purchased the then 320-acre ranch from George Shepard in 1898. “Future generations need to know now this county and country was formed.” In recent years the ranch and neighboring lands, a total of about 960 acres have been leased out to ranchers from Dixon, Calif., who move 1,300 to 1,400 Angus cross cattle to the Wood River Valley for summer grazing. Nicholson has retreated from many of the day-to-day chores, turning those responsibilities over to Butch Wampler. Instead of ranching, Nicholson is focused on preserving the area history, including the two barns on his family ranch. The horse barn was built about 1918 while the milking barn dates back to 1932. The horse barn, which held 21 draft horses and had a harness room, serves as a still-developing museum that features the history of the Nicholson family and early valley settlers. The milking barn, with 50 stanchions, where the 100 cows in the Nicholson Ranch's Cloverdale Dairy were milked twice a day, emphases the dairy history. Both are filled with photos, from ranches and ranching families like the Wamplers and Sisemores to old barns and winter carnivals when Fort Klamath hosted round-trip cross country ski races to Crater Lake. There's horse tack and other items preserved from early ranches and dairies. “That was the big thing here in the '20s,” Nicholson says of dairies, noting there were several dairies and creameries in the Fort Klamath area nearly a hundred years ago...more