BLM Wrecks Infrastructure at Bunkerville

This makes me wonder who is going to pay for fixing what the BLM has wrecked. I know that none of those who damaged  things they don’t own will do the right thing, but will the administration that pays them to stomp on America? I know…”The meatball says ‘NO!”‘ Once upon a time, this kind of behavior would have resulted in hanging.

I want the BLM to pay. I guess it’s good to want things.

Feds accused of leaving trail of wreckage after Nevada ranch standoff

 

The federal agency that backed down over the weekend in a tense standoff with a Nevada rancher is being accused of leaving a trail of wreckage behind.

Fox News toured the damage — allegedly caused by the Bureau of Land Management — which included holes in water tanks and destroyed water lines and fences. According to family friends, the bureau’s hired “cowboys” also killed two prize bulls.

“They had total control of this land for one week, and look at the destruction they did in one week,” said Corey Houston, friend of rancher Cliven Bundy and his family. “So why would you trust somebody like that? And how does that show that they’re a better steward?”

The BLM and other law enforcement officials backed down on Saturday in their effort to seize Bundy’s cattle, after hundreds of protesters, some armed, arrived to show support for the Bundy family. In the end, BLM officials left the scene amid concerns about safety, and no shots were fired.

The dispute between the feds and the Bundy family has been going on for years; they say he owes more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees — and long ago revoked his grazing rights over concern for a federally protected tortoise. They sent officials to round up his livestock following a pair of federal court orders last year giving the U.S. government the authority to impound the cattle.

The feds, though, are being accused of taking the court orders way too far.

On a Friday night conference call, BLM officials told reporters that “illegal structures” on Bundy’s ranch — water tanks, water lines and corrals — had to be removed to “restore” the land to its natural state and prevent the rancher from restarting his illegal cattle operation.

However, the court order used to justify the operation appears only to give the agency the authority to “seize and impound” Bundy’s cattle.

“Nowhere in the court order that I saw does it say that they can destroy infrastructure, destroy corrals, tanks … desert environment, shoot cattle,” Houston said.

Bundy’s friends say the BLM wranglers told them the bulls were shot because they were dangerous and could gore their horses. One bull was shot five times.

But Houston said the pen holding the bull wasn’t even bent. “It’s not like the bull was smashing this pen and trying tackle people or anything,” he said. “The pen is sitting here. It hasn’t moved. No damage whatsoever. Where was the danger with that bull?”

Plus he said BLM vehicles appear to have crushed a tortoise burrow near the damaged water tank. “How’s that conservation?” he asked.

The BLM has not yet responded to a request for comment on these allegations.

Bundy has refused to pay the grazing fees or remove his cattle, and doesn’t even acknowledge the federal government’s authority to assess or collect damages.

The bureau has said if Bundy wasn’t willing to pay, then they would sell his cattle.

However, there was a problem with that plan — few in Nevada would touch Bundy’s cattle for fear of being blacklisted.

“The sale yards are very nervous about taking what in the past has been basically stolen cattle from the federal government,” Nevada Agriculture Commissioner Ramona Morrison said.

Documents show the BLM paid a Utah cattle wrangler $966,000 to collect Bundy’s cattle and a Utah auctioneer to sell them. However, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert refused to let Bundy cattle cross state lines, saying in a letter: “As Governor of Utah, I urgently request that a herd of cattle seized by the Bureau of Land Management from Mr. Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada, not be sent to Utah. There are serious concerns about human safety and animal health and well-being, if these animals are shipped to and sold in Utah.”

That letter was sent three days before the BLM round-up, which is why the cattle were still being held Saturday in temporary pens just a few miles from Bundy’s ranch. Morrison says BLM was sitting on cattle because it had no way to get rid of them — setting up a potential tragedy as orphaned calves were not getting any milk and feed costs were about to skyrocket.

The showdown is far from over. The BLM says it will “continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” though Bundy still doesn’t recognize federal authority over the federal lands that he continues to use in violation of a court order. The federal judge who issued that decision says Bundy’s claims “are without merit.”

That order from October 2013 says Bundy owes $200 per day per head for every day he fails to move his cattle. That amounts to roughly $640 million in damages owed to the federal government for illegally grazing his cattle.

William La Jeunesse joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 1998 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.

 

Regulating Cow Farts- Methane Madness of the EPA

Years ago, the UN was funding studies with cattle wearing back packs that measured their flatulence to determine the amount of methane being pumped into the air by cattle. The idea was that cattle farts were creating global warming to some extent. Well, now the EPA is setting the stage to reduce methane emissions by cattle in the dairy sector in the US by 25%. Never mind that our overall cattle levels are at 1951 levels. Never mind that the number of dairy farms fell by 52,000 from 1997 to 2007. Evidently we need more destruction of those who would actually try to feed us good quality food that isn’t factory produced. Smaller diversified farming is better for the land, farmers, consumers and the economy. It’s also better for food security, distribution and civilization overall…But those who want us off the land and easily controlled want to regulate cow flatulence. Grr.


White House looks to regulate cow flatulence as part of climate agenda

As part of its plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is targeting the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions in their operations.

This comes despite falling methane emission levels across the economy since 1990.

The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25 percent by 2020. Although U.S. agriculture only accounts for about 9 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it makes up a sizeable portion of methane emissions — which is a very potent greenhouse gas.

Some of these methane emissions come from cow flatulence, exhaling and belching — other livestock animals release methane as well.

“Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence,” according to How Stuff Works. “Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day… while others say it’s up to 500 liters… a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.”

“Of all domestic animal types, beef and dairy cattle were by far the largest emitters of [methane],” according to an EPA analysis charting greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. Cows and other animals produce methane through digestion, which ferments the food of animals.

“During digestion, microbes resident in an animal’s digestive system ferment food consumed by the animal,” the EPA notes. “This microbial fermentation process, referred to as enteric fermentation, produces [methane] as a byproduct, which can be exhaled or eructated by the animal.”

It’s not just the dairy industry that the Obama administration is clamping down on. The White House is looking to regulate methane emissions across the economy from agriculture to oil and gas operations — all this despite methane emissions falling 11 percent since 1990.

 

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/28/white-house-looks-to-regulate-cow-flatulence-as-part-of-climate-agenda/#ixzz2xYjr5aR7

Monsanto Protection Act is Now Law

If people remember, before Obama became President he said he would get GMO’s labeled…Ha! Instead, in the standard American corporate government method, he just gave the go ahead for massive expansion of GMO crops. While other nations are firmly constraining and refusing these aberrations, we get more of them here. Almost makes on want to move to a non-GMO country. Even China is refusing to accept shipments of this garbage.

More ‘Corporate Welfare’: Obama Signs ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ Into Law
Just signed provision prevents federal courts from stopping the planting of genetically engineered crops, despite health, environmental consequences

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” said Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety. (Photo: Peter Blanchard/flickr)
President Obama signed what has been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” on Tuesday, legislation critics say amounts to “corporate welfare” for biotechnology corporations like Monsanto, and puts farmers and the environment in jeopardy.

Summing up the provision in H.R. 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, Eric Darier, a senior campaigner on sustainable agriculture at Greenpeace International explains that it

will effectively bar US federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops even if they failed to be approved by the government’s own weak approval process and no matter what the health or environmental consequences might be.
The rider from H.R. 933 reads:

 

Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes that the rider presents a “threat to farmers and the environment,” and that while the rider’s language indicates that steps will be taken “…to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects…,” historical evidence shows that there are indeed risks. In 2006, for example,

unapproved GE rice owned by Bayer, probably originating from a small, short-term controlled field trial in Arkansas, was found to have contaminated the U.S. rice supply. That little incident resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost rice exports and farmer lawsuits that continued for years. […]

A similar threat exists to the environment in the form of gene flow—the transfer of genes from one organism to another—from crops to wild cousins, or from poorly domesticated cultivated plants like forest trees or grasses grown for lumber, pulp, or biofuel.

In fact, gene flow of glyphosate herbicide-resistant creeping bentgrass has already occurred…twice. This also happened from temporary field trials that were conducted in Central Oregon and nearby Idaho specifically to prevent gene flow! USDA mandated an isolation zone of 900 feet around the trial, but gene flow occurred up to 13 miles from the Oregon site.
There could be “long-lasting and serious consequences” from the rider, writes Appetite for Profit author Michele Simon. “This list of pending petitions to USDA to approve genetically-engineered crops includes new versions of corn, soybean, canola, and cotton. Once these crops get planted, it will be too late to do much about it.”

The Center for Food Safety writes that it was Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee (D-MD), who allowed the legislation to move forward without hearings and without bringing it in front of the Agriculture or Judiciary Committees.

“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.

This is the kind of deal biotechnology corporations have been hoping for, according to Food Democracy Now!, a group that has been campaigning against the GE rider. “Since losing a court case in 2010 to Center for Food Safety for the unlawful planting of GMO sugar beets, Monsanto and other biotech companies have been desperate to find a way around court mandated environmental impact statements required as a result of a U.S. district court’s ruling,” the group writes.

Gurian-Sherman writes that the rider has biotechnology corporations’ fingerprints all over it:

It was introduced anonymously, without accountability. But let me stick my neck out and say that it is highly likely that the biotech industry influenced the introduction and passing of this rider. Monsanto spends more money influencing our government than any other agriculture company. It spent millions, more than any other firm, to defeat the efforts in California to label engineered foods.
In her post titled “Monsanto Teams up with Congress to Shred the Constitution,” Simon adds that this is “such a big deal” because

The court system is often our last hope, with Congress, the White House, and regulatory agencies deep inside industry’s pocket. Several legal challenges have resulted in court decisions overturning USDA’s approval of new GMO crops, for example, sugar beets.
So the biotech industry, unable to make its case to a judge, figured why not just rewrite the Constitution instead…
Darier concludes that the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ ultimately shows the power corporations wield at the expense of democracy:

This should also be a reminder to all of us across the world of the ability of some corporations like Monsanto to influence policymakers to adopt measures that are against sustainable agriculture, farmers, consumers and the environment. And let’s add now to this list: independent judicial review! A very sad day for democracy and the future of our food.
_____________________________

 

USDA Now Wants to Save the Bees

Funny that we have to spend millions to figure out what we already know. How typical. Those who create the problem use your money to find their solution. Maybe I am being a bit too cynical here, but it gets tough not to be after seeing so many offenses and atrocities.

For your consideration:

Feds unveil plan to save honey bees — and $15 billion in crops they pollinate

Claiming that the future of American food production depends on a revived honey bee population, the Agriculture Department on Tuesday announced it will spend $3 million to help ranchers and farmers improve the health of the bugs, key to pollinating $15 billion worth of food.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, “Expanded support for research, combined with USDA’s other efforts to improve honey bee health, should help America’s beekeepers combat the current, unprecedented loss of honey bee hives each year.”

The money will be in the form of financial assistance and technical help targeted to five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“Honey bee pollination supports an estimated $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutritious diet. The future security of America’s food supply depends on healthy honey bees,” added Vilsack.

The bee industry has been under assault from pests and enemies for years, but the recent emergence of mysterious “Colony Collapse Disorder” has resulted in the deaths of 30 percent to 50 percent of honey bee colonies each year, double the normal rate.

Ag said the assistance “will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.”

The area was chosen because over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country are dropped in farms in the five states.

Bee managers would also like the administration to limit the use of exotic pesticides which them blame for some of the colony deaths.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

California Almond Growers Dozing Trees

California almond farmers face tough choices

Associated Press

By SCOTT SMITH February 24, 2014 1:14 AM
.California Almond Farmers Face Tough Choices

FIREBAUGH, Calif. (AP) — With California’s agricultural heartland entrenched in drought, almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields.

In California’s Central Valley, Barry Baker is one of many who hired a crew that brought in large rumbling equipment to perform the grim task in a cloud of dust.

A tractor operator drove heavy steel shanks into the ground to loosen the roots and knock the trees over. Another operator, driving a brush loader equipped with a fork-like implement on the front, scooped up the trees and root balls and pushed them into a pile, where an excavator driver grabbed them up in clusters with a clawing grapple. The trees were fed into a grinder that spit wood chips into piles to be hauled away by the truckload and burned as fuel in a power plant.

Baker, 54, of Baker Farming Company, has decided to remove 20 percent of his trees before they have passed their prime. There’s simply not enough water to satisfy all 5,000 acres of almonds, he said. “Hopefully, I don’t have to pull out another 20 percent,” Baker said, adding that sooner or later neighboring farmers will come to the same conclusion. “They’re hoping for the best. I don’t think it’s going to come.”

There are no figures yet available to show an exact number of orchards being removed, but the economic stakes and risks facing growers are clear. Almonds and other nuts are among the most high-value crops in the Central Valley — the biggest producer of such crops in the country. In 2012, California’s almond crop had an annual value of $5 billion. This year farmers say the dry conditions are forcing them to make difficult decisions.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month declared a drought emergency after the state’s driest year in recorded history.

The thirst for water has sparked political battles in Washington, D.C., over use of the state’s rivers and reservoirs. This month President Barack Obama visited the Central Valley, announcing millions of dollars in relief aid that in part will help the state’s ranchers and farmers better conserve and manage water.

Baker, who favors farming over politics, explained the math leading to his decision. Between now and the summer almond harvest, he would need to irrigate his orchards with scarce, expensive water and pay to have the trees pruned and sprayed. Bringing in bee hives to pollinate the blossoms costs nearly $500 an acre.California drought

Alan Thompson of G&F Agri Service LLC looks at a tree as he manages a crew of heavy equipment operat …

That all would amount to a $2.5 million gamble, without knowing if the next couple of months will bring significant rain to the valley floor and snow to the mountains. “You’d have wrapped a lot of money up in those trees to see what happens,” he said.

Removing old trees is common practice. Almond trees remain productive for about 25 years, growers said. The state’s almond farmers removed over 10,000 acres of trees in 2012, according to a report by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Most were past their prime. No figures are available on how many orchards farmers are removing today, said department spokesman Steve Lyle.

But Alan Thompson of G&F Agri Service LLC, who leads the crew ripping out Baker’s orchards, said the drought spiked his business by 75 percent. This time of year is typically slow, but Thompson, 31, said his heavy equipment operators start at dawn each day and works until sundown, removing orchards in short order.

“We don’t even mess around with cutting them up with chain saws,” he said. “That grinder is the way to do it right there.”

Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said he expects that almond growers will be removing trees through the spring and summer because of the drought. “I have no doubt permanent crops will be taken out because of this,” he added.

Tim Lynch of Agra Marketing Group said power plants in the state nearly have more wood chips from almond trees than they can handle. Lynch’s firm acts as the middle man between growers getting rid of their trees and the power plants that need bio fuel to burn. The dry weather this winter has allowed growers to work in their orchards that are typically soggy, and the drought pushed them to take out trees earlier than normal, he said.

The high value of almonds has caught the eye of investors in recent years, who paid top-dollar for land to plant almond orchards and cash in on the bonanza. Their value remains strong, making the decision for farmers to remove orchards difficult.

William Bourdeau, executive vice president of Harris Farms in Coalinga, said he and his colleagues within the next 30 days will have to confront the hard decision about scaling back their almond orchards. They’ve already decided not to plant 9,000 acres of vegetables — including 3,000 acres of lettuce that would have produced 72 million heads and generated 700,000 hours of work.

Next, they may rip out 1,000 acres of almonds, a permanent crop, Bourdeau said.

“I hesitate to use a number that big. Unfortunately, it’s going to that big or bigger,” he said, still holding out hope the season will turn wet. “We’re trying to limp along as long as we can.”

Leaving the orchards un-watered and expecting they’ll somehow survive the drought is no option, Bourdeau said, because insects infest the dying trees and multiply, spreading to other orchards.

Drawing well water is a bad option, he said. Their wells sink 2,400 feet below ground in his region of the Central Valley, providing water that’s unhealthy and compromises the crops for years, if the trees survive at all, he said.

They have considered blending well and surface water to minimize the harm. Or they can remove some almonds to direct their limited water to fewer orchards.

“There’s a lot of what-ifs,” Bourdeau said. “There’s no good decision. It’s what’s the least worse option.”

US Wastes Billions of Dollars of Food

The USDA has done a report on the amount of food wastage in the US. Interestingly, this is at a time right before food prices are going to sky rocket. One thing that has apparently not been addressed in this report is the regulatory and insurance side of the profligate waste we appear to have.

Morningland Dairy was forced to waste about $250,000 dollars of cheese that hadn’t made one person sick in over 30 years. Fast food restaurants throw out huge amounts of food at close and are prohibited from allowing people to getting it even out of the dumpster. People who want to feed the homeless are routinely fined, punished or prevented from doing so because they don’t have permits and licenses that prove they prepare food in a permitted and licensed kitchen.

It could be readily argued that a vast amount of our food is garbage anyway, and therefore going where it should go, but truly not having enough to eat is about to become a reality for a larger percentage of our population than in anytime in recent memory.

There is a massive drought in California, there are 25% of greenhouses that heat with propane that have either shut down or significantly scaled back, the vast majority of chicken houses heat with propane and most of those growers finished what they had and held off on losing everything due to either being unable to afford or in some cases even acquire the propane to heat with. Brazil, the highest global producer of beef and a major exporter of food in many categories is in a drought where rationing of water is occurring in 142 cities. And don’t forget that South Dakota lost around 100,000 cattle and we have cattle populations in the US at 1951 levels.

While we’re throwing all of this away, or being forced to throw it away, we’re looking at massive rises in food costs. Time to learn how to preserve whatever excess we have.

Here’s an article about the USDA wastage report:

Americans trash about 1/3 of their food, worth $161bn – USDA

Published time: February 25, 2014 08:56

AFP Photo / Spencer PlattAFP Photo / Spencer Platt

About 30 percent of the 430 billion pounds of food produced in the United States is wasted, an incredible statistic, especially given the lack of landfill space, not to mention the global menace of world hunger.

The shocking statistic gives a new meaning to the term ‘junk food,’ as Americans are sending 133 billion lbs (60 billion kg) of food to the garbage dump each year. To put it another way, 141 trillion calories annually – or 1,249 calories per capita daily – went uneaten in the United States, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture.

The top three food groups in terms of the amount of total food loss cost are ranked as follows: meat, poultry, and fish (30 percent); vegetables (19 percent); and dairy products (17 percent). Retail food waste, for example, in grocery stores and restaurants, accounted for 10 percent (43 billion lbs), while consumer losses amounted to 21 percent (90 billion pounds) of the available food supply.

The issue of food loss is becoming a serious topic not just in the United States, but across the world as countries struggle with mounting levels of garbage, while food scarcity among an exploding world population demands a new way of thinking about eating habits.

In 2010, the average American spent $4,016 on food (both for at-home and away-from-home consumption) out of an average disposable income of $36,016, the report, titled ‘The Estimated Amount, Value and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States’, noted.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of US adults (35.7 percent) are obese, which is perhaps the best argument that Americans can offset a large part of the food waste problem by simply eating less. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008; the costs of providing medical assistance for individuals who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, thereby placing an enormous strain on healthcare costs.

At the same time, the problem of global food scarcity is gaining the attention of world leaders.

“The United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 9.3 billion by 2050, and this will require a 70 percent increase in food production, net of crops used for biofuels. Currently…the number of food-insecure people reached 802 million in 2012,” the report stated.

The USDA warned that developed countries like the United States – where 49 million people lived in food-insecure households out of a total population of over 305 million – should not take their current level of food security for granted.

“Although most of this population growth will occur in developing countries, developed countries like the United States also face issues of hunger and food insecurity,” it said.

In an effort to attract attention to the problem of food waste, the USDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year kicked off the US Food Waste Challenge. The United Nations’ Environment Program’s (UNEP) World Environment Day’s central theme was also food waste.

 

AFP Photo / Spencer PlattAFP Photo / Spencer Platt

The report acknowledged that tackling the problem is no easy challenge given the many diverse places where food is distributed, consumed and disposed of.

There are an estimated 119 million households, over a half a million dining establishments, including fast-food outlets, and numerous other locations where people gather to eat, such as schools, institutions, and prisons across the United States, it said.

Eco-hazardous habits

A largely ignored problem associated with our intensely urbanized lifestyles is how to get rid of our food waste in a way that does not inflict long-term damage on the environment. Discarding uneaten food into plastic garbage bags and burying them in landfills only exacerbates the problem.

According to statistics by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste accounted for 34 million tons of some 250 million tons of municipal solid waste in the United States in 2010, with a price tag of about $1.3 billion.

After recycling a number of materials, like metals, plastic and paper, food waste came out on top in terms of what is overloading our garbage dumps, with 21 percent of the total, according to the EPA.

The most worrying problem with landfilling food waste is that it generates methane gas as it decomposes anaerobically. Methane is 21 times more powerful in accelerating global warming than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA as cited in the USDA report.

Landfills account for 34 percent of all human-related methane emissions in the United States
The report pointed to a growing human footprint on the planet as a good reason for nations to start addressing this issue.

The report offered some suggestions on addressing the issue, including expanding on community composting programs, of which there are around 3,510 such initiatives in the US that allow neighborhood residents to leave food scraps and yard trimmings at the curb for a special collection.

At the same time, companies will work to offset food waste if “it is economically justifiable, that is, if the benefits outweigh the costs.”

The report suggested the potential advantages of building “consumer goodwill” for business, using by way of example “a sandwich shop donates uneaten yet wholesome food to a community feeding organization at the end of each day.”

 

 

Michigan: Killing More Small Farms

No more farm animals in residential neighborhoods, Michigan agriculture committee advises

Rosemary Parker | rparker3@mlive.com By Rosemary Parker | rparker3@mlive.com
Follow on Twitter
on January 20, 2014 at 5:56 AM, updated January 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM

MATTAWAN, MI — A Mattawan family’s farm may be safe, but changes under consideration by the Michigan Agriculture Commission could strip future small farmers of protection under Michigan’s Right to Farm act, according to an “action alert” sent Jan. 7 by the Michigan Small Farm Council.

Kelly VanderKley's farmKelly VanderKley’s turkeys walk around in their pen on Friday, July 26, 2013 at her small farm in Mattawan. File photo

The group’s mission “is to protect and extend the rights of urban, suburban, and rural small-scale farming operations throughout the state,” according to its website.

Those rights are threatened by proposed changes to Michigan’s Generally Acceptable Agricultural Practices (GAAMPs) currently under review by “first bring(ing) operations as small as a single animal under the control of the Site Selection GAAMPs,” the alert warns, “and then using (a new category) to exclude those operations from Right to Farm protection in residential areas.”

Kelly VanderKley and her husband, David Hunter, sought Right to Farm protection for their Antwerp Township hobby farm last year when neighbors complained about their animals and manure on the 4.8 acre of land. The farm underwent strict scrutiny by the state inspector to assure practices were in compliance with all applicable environmental requirements, VanderKley said, and were judged to be in compliance with current standards.

The Michigan Right to Farm Act provides nuisance protection for farms and farm operations which are in conformance with GAAMPs. Right to Farm was originally designed to protect commercial agriculture operations from being pushed out by changes in local zoning or land uses that conflict with common agriculture practices.  GAAMPs are reviewed annually by scientific committees of various experts, revised and updated as necessary, according to a recent news release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture announcing this year’s deadline for public comment is Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The proposed revisions worrying the Michigan Small Farm Council are tweaks to the GAAMPs for Site Selection and Odor Control for Livestock Production Facilities.

The Site Selection GAAMPs have never applied to most small farmers, the council alert explained,  because “Livestock Production Facilities” have been defined  as having 50 animal units or more, far greater than the number of animals held by most small farms in Michigan.

“In the proposed changes, MDARD defines a new term, Livestock Facility, as one with any number of animals – including a single animal,” a step, the alert warns, that “for the first time brings small farm operations under the control of the Site Selection GAAMPs. And then in a second step, MDARD creates a new class of sites – Category 4 sites – that are not ever acceptable sites for Livestock Facilities.”

Category 4 sites are defined as those exclusively zoned for residential use.

Those changes could be the kiss of death for enterprises such as backyard chicken flocks, or small acreage hobby farms such as VanderKley’s that keep a few animals on  suburban acreage, said Michigan Small Farm Council member Randy Buchler, of Shady Grove Farm in the Upper Peninsula community of Gwinn.

“It would exclude a whole bunch of people who are seeking Right to Farm protection… and strip the small farmers of their right to be protected by a state law.”

A circuit court judge ruled in Buchler’s favor when he cited Right to Farm to protect his own farm’s existence on residential property in Marquette County, the largest county in the state, he said.

“What they are trying to do is to take away Right to Farm protection from people trying to be self sufficient but not able to do agriculture on any level according their local zoning.

“The way it looks to us,” Buchler said, “this would allow local ordinances to trump state law.”

Mitigating conflict

“The GAAMPs look at nuisance risk and are intended to help mitigate conflict,” said Jennifer Holton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“The committee recognizes that when you add in animals into those densely populated areas, it increases nuisance risk as well as the potential for conflict,” Holton said. “This proposal recognizes that there is a continuum – there are places ideally situated for livestock, and there are places in the state where livestock should not be located. ”

“The proposal also recognizes size and scale in a new way – there are places where large livestock facilities can be located – and the new category recognizing that small scale livestock (4-H, a couple of horses, etc.) can fit well in other places.”

Public Comment

People are invited to submit their thoughts on the site selection or any other GAAMPs by mail or email, or to attend the GAAMPs public input meeting at 9 a.m. Jan. 22, 2014, in Room A at the State Secondary Complex – General Office Building, 7150 Harris Drive, Dimondale.

Written comments may be submitted to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Environmental Stewardship Division, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909, postmarked no later than Jan. 22, 2014.

E-mail should be directed to WilcoxR2@michigan.gov, and must arrive by p.m. on Jan. 22, 2014.

MDARD will forward all comments received by the due date to the respective GAAMPs Task Force chairpersons for consideration. The GAAMPs Task Force Chairpersons then present proposed GAAMPs to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development for final adoption.

Public comments are accepted and considered at scheduled commission meetings before final versions of the GAAMPs are approved.

For a copy of any of the GAAMPs, including the proposed revisions, click here  or contact MDARD’s Environmental Stewardship Division at 517-284-5619, or toll free at 877-632-1783.

Public comment will be taken on all eight GAAMPs, though there are proposed changes only in the GAAMPs for Manure Management and Utilization, Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control, the Care of Farm Animals, Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Production Facilities, and Irrigation Water Use.

Currently, there are no proposed changes in the GAAMPs for: Nutrient Utilization, Farm Markets, and Cranberry Production.

Another Problem with Massive Amounts of Government Data

While I want to make clear that I do not like CAFO’s, I also want to make it even more clear that I do not at all appreciate terrorism, theft, destruction of property and harassment. Also, as some of you have heard me speak about, I have been involved in attempting to get information on Morningland Dairy from my own state’s agency for over four months. None of that information could possibly be deemed to be used to terrorize anyone with. Simple transparency in governmental actions is the desire behind the request for my FOIA on Morningland….More about that tomorrow.

What I want to share with you is the result of the EPA showing exceptional and dangerous favoritism to animal rights activists. Please read this article and share it with anyone you think may have an interest in protecting privacy.

January 14, 2014 6:30 PM

The EPA’s Privacy Problem
Farmers and ranchers sue after the EPA releases confidential information to environmental groups.

Text

The fire at San Joaquin Valley’s Harris Farms burst out suddenly and rapidly, consuming 14 trailer trucks in the dawn of January 8, 2012. Wreaking more than $2 million in damage, it constituted one of the biggest acts of agro-terrorism in American history.

An anonymous news release issued by the Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal-rights group, explained that unnamed activists had placed containers of kerosene and digital timers beneath the trucks, linking them with kerosene-soaked rope to carry the fire down the row, “a tactic adapted from Home Alone 2.” The statement concludes threateningly: “until next time.” The perpetrators remain uncaught.

Two years later, farmers and ranchers in 29 states worry they’ll be similarly attacked; last year, the Environmental Protection Agency released to environmental groups extensive personal information about 80,000 to 100,000 agricultural operations.

The data released included names of owners, addresses, global-positioning-system coordinates, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and, in some instances, notes on medical conditions and inheritances. Though environmental groups had requested information about “concentrated animal feeding operations” — “CAFOs” in the bureaucratic lingo, and “feedlots” in the vernacular — some of the information released clumped in data about crop farms, too.

Farm groups say the EPA violated farmers’ and ranchers’ privacy, increasing their risk of agro-terrorism as well as harassment or litigation from animal-rights and environmental activists. The EPA has admitted to having improperly released farmers’ data on two occasions, and has twice attempted to claw back those records.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council are now suing the EPA to prevent it from releasing even more information. Though it hasn’t been much covered, the case has significant implications regarding privacy. It also raises questions about whether the EPA acted politically, cooperating with environmental groups to help them achieve long-term regulatory goals.

“This is really important to farmers and ranchers because this is not just a place of business — this is where they live, this is where their children play,” says Danielle Quist, senior counsel for public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We are not opposed to transparency in agriculture. In fact we are a huge supporter of transparency. But that’s not what we’re talking about with this lawsuit. All citizens in this country deserve the protection of their private home information. Our farmers and ranchers deserve that same protection.”

Agro-terrorism is a primary concern, say agricultural groups, but there are others: Because the information released is so comprehensive, some worry that it may be used by activist trespassers or scoured over by class-action litigators who could profit from suing feedlots for any shortcomings.

Ashley McDonald, environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, tells National Review Online that “we’ve actually heard from folks that, yes, there has been some suspicious activity that they think might be tied to [the EPA] release.” And Grace Boatright, legislative director for the National Grange, says it has been “pretty disconcerting for families to have their private information accessed by groups that have made it pretty clear they don’t agree with all their current business practices.”

Yet environmental groups say the data collected and released by the EPA is standard for other industries and that farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be treated exceptionally.

“Sometimes the owner or the operator of the facility lives at the facility, so I think that’s given rise to some questions about personal privacy,” says Eve C. Gartner, staff attorney at Earthjustice’s Northeast office. “But it does seem to me like a very difficult question: If someone chooses to locate their home at an industrial facility, does that automatically mean that everything about that facility becomes private?”

Animal-rights activists claim the feedlots systemically abuse animals. PETA, for instance, cites everything from manure smells that cause cows “chronic respiratory problems, making breathing painful” to “a highly unnatural diet” that causes “chronic digestive pain — imagine your worst case of gastritis that never goes away.”

Environmental groups say feedlots increase emissions, cause pollution, and contaminate drinking water. Jon Devine, the senior attorney at the water program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, recently wrote that such operations “generate nasty waste” because “animal manure contains bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, as well as organic compounds, heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones.”

Farm groups dispute these claims, questioning the environmental effect and highlighting improved humane practices with respect to feedlot animals.

Regardless, environmental and animal-rights groups have long sought more federal control of CAFOs, pushing for two specific policy goals: requiring the government to collect extensive data about feedlots, and requiring feedlots to be regulated and permitted under the Clean Water Act.

In the last decade, the EPA has mounted a largely unsuccessful effort to increase permitting requirements for feedlots. But environmental groups were able to work out a settlement with the agency in 2010, compelling it to begin collecting CAFO data.

A Must Read Book: “One Second After”

Okay, I know this is a little late for the release of this book. I put off reading it largely because it has a foreward by Newt Gingrich. I’m sorry, but I really don’t think very highly of him as I actually recall many of his serious, and in my mind criminal, financial snafus. Nonetheless, this book is an incredible book. If anyone needs a kick in the rear to motivate them to prepare for any kind of disruption in our services, this book will provide the clarity to get at least some action out of any thinking human being.

Buy This Book!!!

“One Second After” is actually the best EMP scenario fictional book I have encountered, and there are a fair amount of them out there. While there are some far fetched aspects to this book, it is far from loaded with them. Also, it isn’t loaded with continuity and grammatical errors that plague many ebooks, so it reads very well. The story is clear and yet poignant. Most importantly, it drives home how fragile our lives are because of our policies on agriculture and our centralization of production and distribution.

As horrific as an EMP would be, the fact that we could weather any tragedy better if we had myriads of diversified small farms all across the country stands out clearly in this book. We could mostly live without a great many of our modern conveniences, although sanitation via running water and refrigeration are things that I definitely wouldn’t want to do without…and they also help tremendously with keeping people healthy and prevent quick spoilage of food.

The issues brought into sharp relief in this book are things that we could largely alleviate by preparing ourselves and encouraging our neighbors and communities to prepare as well. Food will never be less expensive than it is now. Dry canning will preserve flours and grains as well as pasta for a very long time. Up to 20 years is the reported shelf life on dry canned grain stuffs. You can’t just grow all your own grains without seeds and knowledge of how to do it either….so buy seed and learn what you can.

Small greenhouses and garden plots everywhere would provide sustenance for many. Growing edible landscapes instead of purely ornamental yard plants could stave off starvation. Windowsill gardening and sprouting grains with a good reserve of back stock could be the difference between life and death. Knowing your neighbors and developing community exchanges for food and other necessities is an absolute must. Not just in case of an EMP, but any breakdown in our hyper-dependent system.

Bottom line is that I challenge the most resistant to prepping person in this country to read this book and defend their desire to not be bothered by the fact that our system is so dependent upon transportation, communication and constant electricity and computer interfaces. Mess with any one of these critical components and the whole thing is jeopardized. “One Second After” drives that home.

By the way, I have zero financial interest in promoting this book. I simply want people to live and see how tremendously fragile our system is.

 

GMO Summit—Listen, Learn and Spread the Word!

This weekend a tremendous opportunity to learn pretty much everything you have ever wondered about regarding Genetically Modified Organisms is taking place. This is the online GMO Summit, put on by John Robbins, and Jeffrey Smith.  Allergies, cancer, diabetes, fertility, obesity, all of these are connected to GMO’s and the science is in and decidedly clear. The myriads of effects pertaining to the consumption and exposure to both Round Up and Round Up Ready plant varieties and other types of GMO’s will be discussed in detail by a massive panel of experts including Jeffrey Smith, Thierry Vrain, Vandana Shiva, Sara Gottfried, Don Huber, Joseph Mercola, and more.

Best of all, you don’t have to spend any time traveling to take part in this GMO Summit. So you can listen and study, and take notes and even have a get together and have your own GMO Mini Summit in your own home!

Here’s some more info on it:

How does it work?

You’ll get FREE access to highly focused half-hour interviews – personally conducted by Jeffrey and me – every day for the entire 3 days of the summit. You can listen via phone (conference call), or over the Internet.

PLUS

You’ll get access to even MORE SECOND WAVE EXPERT PRESENTATIONS over the following 5 weeks. These experts will give you even more critical insights in some of the specific areas that matter most to your life.

What if you miss an interview? No problem! There are recordings, transcripts, and many other AWESOME bonus resources that will be available as part of an optional upgrade package. You can get all the specially recorded Second Wave Expert Presentations on the day the Summit starts!

Never before has there been such an informative event on GMOs, with so many world-renowned experts and activists in the field.

And never before has it been this easy to access so much cutting edge information on this crucial topic!

You’ll get…

  • Information and practical tips on eliminating GMOs from your diet.
  • The very latest answers to your burning questions.
  • Tools for talking with your family and peers about this often confusing topic.
  • Powerful and practical ideas on how to stand up to lies and intimidation from Monsanto and big agribusiness.
  • The opportunity to connect and dialogue with your peers all over the planet (more on how that works later) – without having to leave your home.
  • A healthier, more informed outlook on food and the environment!
  • Complimentary membership in the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Food Revolution Network, so you can stay connected and empowered even after the summit is over.

With so much at stake for future generations, it’s never been more important to get informed, be inspired and take action.

Please register for the GMO Mini Summit (it’s free), and then invite your friends and family to come along!

This is a great opportunity to get all the info on GMO’s from people who have done their study thoroughly. I am really looking forward to it!

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries