Archive for February, 2010

Legislative Briefs…Week in Review

HB 1123 unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee this week. This measure declares that a person can not be charged for an arson offense if they started and maintained a fire as a controlled agricultural burn in a reasonably cautious manner and there was no personal injury as a result. “Controlled Agricultural Burn” is defined in this bill to mean a technique used in farming to clear the land of any existing crop residue, kill weeds and weed seeds, or reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of a future fire. We believe this is a positive bill for Ag. CFB thanks Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg for bringing this bill forward.

HB 1101 was amended and passed the House Transportation & Energy Committee this week. This bill deals with Farm Truck Registration. CFB was supportive of the amendments to this bill. This measure now declares that if a farm truck is used primarily for agricultural production on a farm or ranch owned or leased by the owner of the truck and the land on which it is used has been classified as agricultural land (for taxing purposes).  Currently, a county clerk may require that a person demonstrate that the person’s primary business is agriculture and show proof of this income in order to register a motor vehicle as a farm truck.

The Senate passed the Budget Supplemental Bills for the 2009-10 fiscal year. They now go to the Governor’s Desk. As for HB-1327, the objectionable Section 9 was deleted.  It was replaced with Section 8 that transfers $2 million from the CWCB Perpetual Base Account to the General Fund.

Next WeekThe House committees will hear SB 165 – ‘Adjust Oil and Gas Well Regulation’, SB 34 – ‘Pesticide Act Refillers Requirements’, SB 38 – ‘Organic Certification Act’, SB 19 – ‘Valuation of New Hydroelectric Facilities’, and SB 52 – ‘Alter Designated Groundwater Basin Area’.  On Tuesday, the Senate State Affairs Committee will hear HB 1107 – ‘Urban Renewal Area regarding Ag Lands’.

Daily Sentinel Joins Others in Opposing the ‘Right to Trespass’ Bill

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has published an opinion column which opposes HB 1188 the ‘Right to Trespass’ bill and has issued a house editorial calling for the measure to be killed. The Sentinel now joins the Pueblo Chieftain and the Colorado Springs Gazette in opposing the bill.

The Sentinel Editorial Board writes in Fridays paper that…

It makes sense to take more time to examine the issues in greater detail — and try to come up with cooperative solutions — than to pass a contentious bill that all but guarantees lawsuits over issues such as private property rights and what constitutes a navigable river.

The Daily Sentinel supports the notion that rafters, canoers and kayakers should be able to float on the larger rivers of this state, so long as they don’t trespass on private property along streambanks. But there are several problems with Curry’s bill, reasons we think the Senate should kill it and allow new ideas to develop.

While the paper and Farm Bureau don’t exactly see eye to eye on some the other major problems with the bill, we agree that the issue needs to be studied more so that an equitable solution can be agreed upon by all interests. The spirit of cooperation that long has prevailed among many rafters and property owners should be fostered, not quashed, as HB 1188 will most certainly do.

*** Members are encouraged to write Letters to the Editor at the Sentinel and thank the paper for taking a common sense stand on this issue. Please send all letters to letters@gjsentinel.com Letters should include name, address and telephone number and should be no longer than 300 words.

Another way to help win the debate is to submit comments to each story on the Sentinel website, just like you do frequently here on The Pulse. Just click the links to either story at the top of this post, scroll to the bottom of the page and leave a comment. Tell readers how you feel about the issue, how it will impact you; or reply to other commentors and set the record straight.

(Image: QuiteLucid)

Legislative Briefs…

Ag Land Valuation Bill Amended….Legislation that created a 13-member land assessment and classification task force for the purpose of studying the assessment and classification of agricultural land was heavily amended in the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on Tuesday.  HB 1293 now simply  creates a “task force” that will be made up of four members who are owners/lessees of agricultural property (participants must be actively involved in farming or ranching), 2 county commissioners (one from each side of the continental divide) and 2 county assessors (one from each side of the continental divide).

The Task Force will be chaired by the State Property Tax Administrator and will meet at least 4 times over the interim.  The Task Force is directed to submit a written report of its findings by October 15.  CFB was extremely concerned with the introduced version of the bill due to requirements that would have lead to specific legislation being introduced in 2011.  CFB worked closely with other agricultural organizations to get the appropriate representation on the task force.

Right-to-Float Bill Update…HB 1188 has still not been assigned to a committee in the Colorado Senate for debate.  This indicates that our efforts in reaching out to our Senators and expressing our opposition is working!  KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! Please continue to contact your Senators and encourage a NO vote on HB 1188.

We can’t let up now!

HB 1188 has huge implications to private property rights in Colorado and we must send the message that private property rights matter in Colorado.  Efforts in Utah paid off this week when the Utah House of Representatives defeated similar legislation.  Let’s match the efforts in Utah and defeat HB 1188!!!

Jeffersonian Ideals and the Family Farm

Just what makes a family farm a “Family Farm?”  Journalist and NPR contributor Michelle Mercer recently spoke with Farm Bureau member John Leach of Lincoln County about what the term “Family Farm” means to him. Listen below or at KRCC in Colorado Springs.

(Image: david.evenson)

Rural Stock Prices Doing Well

With John Deere’s stock price (DE– $56.22) posting healthy gains in the last few weeks, the rural focused website DailyYonder decided to take a closer look at 40 leading ‘rural’ stocks and see how the segment is faring in a recovering economy. What writer Bill Bishop found out was that…

“Since the beginning of 2009, the Yonder 40 is up over 42%, slightly better than the NASDAQ and nearly double the increase in both the Dow and the S&P 500…

Deere is up nearly 15% since the beginning of February and, indeed, many ag-related stocks are doing well in 2010. Andersons is up more than 17% this month. Andersons produces ethanol and fertilizer.

Meat producers are all doing well so far this year. Hormel — the maker of Spam and Dinty Moore Beef Stew — saw its first quarter earnings rise 37% and its stock is up more than 7% in February.

Smithfield Foods is up more than 12% this month alone and Tyson, the chicken producer, has risen more than 22%.”

The story is an interesting take on ‘corporate’ rural america and reflects other projections that the ag economy is well positioned well to begin exiting the recession at or above the speed of the national economy.

(Image: DailyYonder)

Farm Bureau Member Runs for State House

Longtime Farm Bureau member and Ignacio sheepman J. Paul Brown on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the 59th House District seat which is being vacated by Rep. Ellen Roberts.

Brown, a La Plata County commissioner for four years and an Ignacio school board member for 12 years, announced his candidacy on the steps of the County Courthouse before about 40 family members and friends. The theme of his announcement was aimed at reining in galloping government, taxation and regulation.

“Our country and our state have been governed too long by folks who think that government is the whole answer,” Brown said. “I believe in a citizen legislature, one in which representatives go to the Capitol,  govern only part time, and then return home to work, make payroll and pay taxes.”

Congratulations to J. Paul!  We at The Pulse wish him the best of luck in his campaign.

(Image: Durango Herald)

YF&R Chair Uses Multi-Faceted Approach to Farm Evangelism

AFBF YF&R Chair Will Gilmer

Will Gilmer admits days on the family’s Lamar County dairy farm can grow long, especially when the tractor’s radio doesn’t work and he’s all alone with “nothing but time and engine hum.”

“When you get through solving the world’s problems in your mind, you start thinking of other things,” said the 30-year-old, third-generation dairyman, who was profiled in the March cover story of Neighbors, published by the Alabama Farmers Federation.

For Gilmer, those “other things” are usually ways he can tell farming’s story—whether it’s through the farm’s Web site, its Edopt-a-Cow program, his Dairyman’s Blog, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

His is a multi-faceted approach to farm evangelism, the kind of do-it-all strategy he plans to continue in his new role as chairman of AFBF’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.

“What I want our committee to do is to really get out there the first half of this year and talk about the things we do on our farms,” said Gilmer, who chaired the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers state committee in 2008.

Animal Rights Terrorists to Target Researchers Children

From protests and pipe bombs comes the latest in the escalating drama between animal activists and UCLA researchers that use animals in their experiments: protesting at the schools of researcher’s children. “Activists plan on legally leafleting the school in order to educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living,” warns a posting on the blog Negotiation is Over about UCLA neurobiologist Dario Ringac.

This has the science community fuming, or at least the ones willing to speak out. “Is that what we’ve come to? Is this really the society we want to live in? If it’s not, we need to stand up and say so, in no uncertain terms,” writes Janet D. Stemwedel, an associate professor of philosophy at San Jose State University, at Science Blogs.

“Nobody’s kids should be targeted for harassment because you disagree with their parents. We need to call this behavior out, no matter who does it, no matter what cause they hope to further with it,” Stemwedel continues.

Ritter Signs Tax Hikes

Governor Ritter today signed nine pieces of legislation that raise taxes on Colorado business and consumers. Several of those bills will directly impact the bottom lines of farmers and ranchers across Colorado by raising their costs and putting them at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring states who have the foresight and wisdom to keep ag inputs tax-free.

The Governor’s press release follows…

Gov. Bill Ritter today signed nine pieces of legislation that suspend or eliminate several special tax breaks in order to help balance the state’s budget by generating $15.6 million in revenue this fiscal year and $132.6 million next fiscal year. The Governor will hold a media availability in his office at 3:45 p.m. today to discuss the bills with reporters.

“Over the past 18 months, we have cut spending and closed shortfalls of $2.2 billion, while also addressing a $1.3 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year and preparing for even more cuts in the fiscal year after that,” Gov. Ritter said. “We have taken a balanced approach to keeping the budget balanced. We have asked everyone – government agencies, state workers, nonprofits, medical providers, senior citizens, schools, colleges, the conservation community and businesses – to share in the burden and share in the solutions so that no one group is unfairly or unduly impacted.

“Signing these bills was not something I wanted to do,” Gov. Ritter said. “But it was something that was necessary in order to keep the budget balanced and to continue positioning Colorado for a strong and healthy recovery. My sincere thanks to those lawmakers who supported this package of bills and made the difficult but right decisions for the future of Colorado.”

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USDA Positions Available to Students

Sarah Belt, Human Resources Specialist with the USDA recently sat down with Brian Allmer to discuss opportunities for students to join the USDA.  Both high school and college students are encouraged to apply for volunteer and paid positions with the organization.

Check out the interview with Sarah for more information on program requirements and application steps.

AFBF Backs Peterson’s Cuba Bill

Congressman Collin Peterson

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports legislation introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that would expand U.S. agriculture exports to Cuba.

The bipartisan bill, H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, is co-sponsored by 30 other members of Congress, including Reps. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.).

“Helping feed Cuba is good for the U.S. economy and for the Cuban people. This bill increases the ability of our farmers to sell their products to Cuba just like they do with our other trading partners,” Peterson said.

The bill would eliminate both the need to go through banks in other countries to conduct agricultural trades and the accompanying fees those banks charge. It would also require agricultural exports to Cuba to meet the same payment requirements as exports to other countries, which means payment would be required when the title of the shipment changes hands, not in advance.

Finally, the bill would allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, reducing the bureaucratic red tape currently required for individuals to travel to Cuba to facilitate new agriculture sales.

(Image: Reuters)

Gazette’s Opposition to HB 1188

As we reported earlier, the Colorado Springs Gazette has courageously opposed HB 1188, the ‘Right to Trespass’ bill. On the webpage containing their editorial is a poll asking readers what they think of the measure. Earlier in the day the numbers were 2-1 opposed to the bill!

However, the rafting community has gotten wind of it and the numbers are now opposite. 60%-30% in SUPPORT of the bill.

Please take a minute to head over to the Gazette’s website and vote in the poll. It is located about half way down on the right hand side. While you’re there, take a look at the crazy conversation going on in the comments section and make a few comments of your own!

Thanks in advance for your help in advocating for private property rights!

EPA Delays Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations

EPA will delay subjecting large greenhouse gas emitters such as power plants and crude-oil refiners to new regulations until 2011 and will raise the threshold for using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Monday.

In a letter responding to a letter sent to her Feb. 19 by eight senators who have sought a moratorium on the regulations, Jackson said only the biggest sources of greenhouse gases would be subjected to limits before 2013. Smaller ones would not be regulated before 2016, she said.

In the letter, Jackson said one result of EPA’s “endangerment finding” not being enacted would be the prevention of EPA issuing its greenhouse gas standard for light-duty vehicles, because the endangerment finding is a legal prerequisite of that standard.

“The impacts of that result would be significant,” Jackson wrote. “In particular, it would undo a historic agreement among states, automakers, the federal government and other stakeholders. California and at least thirteen other states that have adopted California’s emissions standards likely would enforce those standards within their jurisdictions, leaving the automobile industry without the explicit nationwide uniformity that it has described as important to its business.”

Opposition to HB 1188 Grows

Yesterday the editorial boards of both the Colorado Springs Gazette and the Pueblo Chieftain came out against the ‘Right to Trespass’ bill, HB 1188. In the case of the Chieftain, the board switched from their original position of supporting the measure, to opposing it, saying…

…the bill does not preserve the status quo, nor clarify any law… The bill, as written, could have severe economic consequences to farms, ranches and resorts located next to rivers. So we’re happy to change our tune and urge that this bill be scuttled during this year’s legislative session. (emphasis added)

The Gazette penned one of the best arguments against the bill that we at the Pulse have heard yet.

Politically, it’s a no-brainer to take from the few and give to the many. The many can easily outvote the few, which rewards politicians for redistribution policies… Nowhere is this phenomenon more in play than with Colorado1188, which would take private property rights from a few and give them to the public. House Bill

Responsible commercial outfitters, understanding the truth about floating in Colorado, have negotiated arrangements with landowners. Some contracts have involved compensation, and others have merely involved good faith agreements enforced with neighborly handshakes…

But that’s not enough for boaters, commercial and private. They demand nothing less than absolute freedom to boat down any creek that will float a kayak or inner tube, regardless of whether they have any legal right to do so…

This bill would prevent the landowners from seeking compensation for lost business and opportunity, freeing rafting companies to profit off land they don’t own without paying reasonable overhead for the commotion they cause and without so much as having to work out a reasonable arrangement with the landowners…

Legislators should kill this ill-conceived bill, which negates private property rights in favor of a collaborative attempt to resolve the conflict fairly. (emphasis added)

The Pulse would like to thank the editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette and the Pueblo Chieftain for their courageous positions in favor of protecting private property rights in Colorado.

Background on HB 1188 can be found here on the Pulse and here, at Coyote Gulch a most excellent blog on Colorado water issues.

(Photo: josue salazar)

Racketeering Lawsuit Fingers HSUS

In a landmark RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit certain to have far-reaching implications for the animal rights movement, Feld Entertainment and the Ringling Brothers circus sued the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), its lawyers, and several other animal rights groups last week. The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) unearthed the lawsuit in federal court records today. CCF is making the lawsuit available online at its newest website, HumaneWatch.org

“America’s farmers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, research scientists, fashion designers, and restaurateurs have seen for decades how the animal rights movement can behave like a mobbed-up racket,” said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. “But it’s still shocking to see the evidence laid out on paper. In a treble-damage lawsuit like this, a jury could actually do the humane thing and finally put HSUS out of business completely.”

(Image: HumaneWatch.org)

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Full-Page Ad Highlights HSUS Failure to Fund Pet Shelters

A full-page ad from the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) appears in today’s New York Times, highlighting the failure of the Humane Society of the United States to devote a significant amount of money to supporting America’s underfunded pet shelters.

The ad explains that HSUS shares only one dollar out of every 200 dollars it collects with local, hands-on pet shelters. The ad encourages readers to find out more by visiting HumaneWatch.org, CCF’s new watchdog Web site.

“HSUS’s cable TV fundraising ads are full of images of dogs and cats in dire need of help,” said David Martosko, CCF’s director of research.  “HSUS donors should hold the organization to a much higher standard. Instead of spending millions on executive pensions, a bloated legal staff, and PETA-style propaganda campaigns, HSUS’s leaders should put their money where their mouth is.”

Supreme Court Denies Request to take up Pesticides Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied AFBF’s request for review of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA.  In its ruling, the Sixth Circuit held that many pesticide applications to or over “waters of the United States” will require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Clean Water Act, a view that overturns over 30 years of law.

In its petition for certiorari, AFBF informed the court not only of the serious legal flaws in the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, but also the devastating impact of this unprecedented imposition of highly restrictive NPDES permit requirements on beneficial pesticide use.

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AFBF Urges Passage of Resolution of Disapproval of EPA ‘Endangerment Finding’

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman called on Congress to adopt a resolution of disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “endangerment finding” and the proposed regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

In a strongly worded letter sent today to all members of Congress, Stallman said the choice is clear. “The real opportunity to stop EPA’s onerous regulations is to adopt a resolution of disapproval. Farm Bureaus across the country are well aware that the true measure of a [congressional] member’s support for agriculture will be his or her introduction of a resolution of disapproval and adding his or her name to a discharge petition bringing that resolution to the floor for a vote,” Stallman wrote.

The resolution of disapproval has been introduced in the Senate and is expected to be voted on in a few weeks.  The measure would only require a 51-vote majority to pass.

“The effort to halt EPA’s misguided regulation cannot succeed without bipartisan support and leadership from Democrats and Republicans alike,” according to Stallman. “Farm Bureau urges members [of Congress] on both sides of the aisle to avoid partisan fights and to work constructively, in a bipartisan fashion, to halt impending EPA regulation that holds the prospect of critically injuring the U.S. economy.”

USDA Rural Development

The USDA has released its 2009 Rural Development Report.

A few key stats:

  • $400 million invested statewide
  • 1411 new rural homeowners
  • 4 rural communities assisted with water projects
  • 650 jobs saved or created through our business programs
  • 35 essential community facilities funded

USDA Rural development also provides many programs to support and bolster the rural community. A brief report outlining the programs offered by Rural Development can be found here.

CSU’s Tony Frank: Back to Ag Roots

CSU’s President, Tony Frank spoke at the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture last thursday. The new president wants to take the school back to its Ag roots and increase investment in Ag programs. The Fence Post has the story…

CSU President Tony Frank

Colorado State University has drifted away from recognizing the importance of agriculture in the past, but President Tony Frank intends to change that in the future.

Frank, who took over the presidency of the state’s land grant institution less than a year ago, told the Governor’s Forum on Agriculture Thursday that he intends to oversee several changes at the university to chart a new emphasis on agriculture.

“CSU has not made an investment in ag as it has in other areas and that’s unfortunate,” Frank said. But since becoming the 14th president at CSU, he has traveled the state and listening to what people think and want CSU should be doing.

Frank and Craig Beyrouty, who joined CSU as the dean of the college of agricultural sciences in July of last year, talked about changes they intend to make and the future direction of CSU will take.“We cannot be a great land grant university without a great college of ag sciences. We will focus on those areas of agriculture that are important to Colorado and the nation,” Frank said.


Positive Trends in U.S. Pork and Beef Exports for 2009

The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently released numbers for 2009 pork and beef exports in the United States Despite a tough year worldwide, both industries experienced positive growth, creating great anticipation for 2010. 

The pork industry was down in exports compared to 2008 standards but the growth between 2007 and 2009 is noteworthy.  In the two years, pork exports are up 43 percent in volume and 37 percent in value with the volume leader of U.S. exports being Mexico. 

The industry’s most notable decline came from Hong Kong and Russia, as both expanded their own domestic production.  A second important factor in the 2009 decline was the mid year disruption of pork demand due to H1N1 influenza.  U.S. exports for pork and pork variety meat in 2009 equaled 22.5 percent of production values, just short of the 2008 24.8 percent production rate. 

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Legislative Briefs…Week in Review

Update on HB 1188 – Farm Bureau and a growing opposition coalition continue to make this our priority as the bill has passed the House and moves into the Senate. It has yet to be official what Senate Committee this bill will be heard in. Stay tuned….  CFB asks that you continue to contact the State Senators asking for a NO vote on HB 1188.

Supplemental Bills – The House debated and passed the 2009-10 Supplemental Bills to balance out this current fiscal years budget as adjustments and additional cuts had to be made to state departments. The Ag Lobby worked to guarantee that the Department of Ag did not take any additional cuts to their General Fund budget. The bills now move into the Senate and will be heard over in that chamber next week. 

HB 1327 is one of the said supplemental bills. This measure would have completely drained CWCB Construction Fund, along with about a dozen other funds such as the Local Government Permanent Fund and the Processors and End Users of Waste Tires Cash Fund. In the House Appropriations hearing Rep. Curry raised objections to this raid and then Rep. Sonnenberg was successful in getting an amendment to the bill that entirely removed Section 9 of the bill, therefore saving the $20+ Million in the CWCB Construction Fund. Much thanks goes to Rep. Sonnenberg and Curry for leading that charge along with the other Appropriations Committee members that voted in favor of the amendment. The bill successful passed through the House with Section 9 still omitted from the current bill.

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AFBF Files Lawsuit Against EPA

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently filed a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s December finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. The agency’s action constitutes the first step toward economy-wide regulation of greenhouse gases and is an effort to achieve through regulation what has failed to pass Congress and failed as well at the Copenhagen talks, AFBF President Bob Stallman noted in a statement.

“EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from farms and ranches through the Clean Air Act could lead to costly and burdensome mandates on America’s food, fiber and renewable fuel producers. It is imperative that the U.S. Court of Appeals conduct a thorough review of the EPA’s endangerment finding,” Stallman said.

Yellowtail Backs Off HSUS Donation

It appears that after a large grassroots backlash, Yellowtail Winery will no longer be donating to HSUS in support of animals. The Pulse reported earlier this month about a firestorm that was ignited on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook regarding a proposed $100,000 donation by Yellowtail to HSUS. Within hours, ag advocates were messaging the winery on its Facebook page, twitter and in the news media. Many wondered why Yellowtail would want to donate to an organization that spends less than 2% of its $200,000,000 on direct animal care.

After assuring those concerned customers that “We are listening,” Yellowtail went ahead and donated the money anyway, saying that the money would be targeted to HSUS’s animal rescue team.

The response by the ag community was swift. Troy Hadrick, a South Dakota rancher and former AFBF YF&R officer posted a video on his blog, showing him pouring out a bottle of Yellowtail in a corral. An anti-Yellowtail faccebook page was launched and the term “Yellowfail” was quickly entered into the vernacular.

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Ag Hall of Fame Wrap-up

The Colorado FFA Foundation induced four new members in the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame last night at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet.

The new inductees are John Matsushima, Andrew Mair, Donald Norgren, and Jim Reed.All four men were instrumental in advancing Colorado agriculture and their induction into the CO Ag Hall of Fame was well deserved.

You can listen to the highlights of the evening and comments from the inductees below. (Courtesy: Brian Allmer Radio Network)

CFB President Alan Foutz offered his support of the Colorado FFA in a short interview with Brian Allmer. Listen below.

Join the Conversation Over HB 1188

There is an interesting conversation going on over at the post, ALERT: Vote NO on HB 118

HB 1188’s recent passage in the House (40-25) has got rafters and community members voicing their opinions, and we want you to join in on the conversation!

Read about the bill and it’s potential impact on private landowners and commercial rafting companies here.

To offer your opinion or respond to a previous comment, simply scroll to the bottom of the post and click “Reply”.  Be sure to select the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” to stay connected to the conversation.

Texas, Virginia File Suits Attacking Endangerment Finding

The state of Texas on Tuesday joined with the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers in filing petitions in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants.

In separate action, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday filed paperwork attacking the legal underpinnings of EPA’s “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gas emissions threaten public health.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials said the EPA finding is based on flawed science and would harm the state’s economy.

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Companies Leave Group That Backs Cap-and-Trade

Officials at energy companies BP and ConocoPhillips and equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced Tuesday they would not renew their membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a business group formed to advocate enactment of climate and energy legislation that includes a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The loss of three major companies has dealt a blow to the now 28-member group and further dims prospects for the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House last summer and is awaiting action in the Senate, according to the Washington Post.

Conoco and BP cited concerns about the effect that proposed climate legislation might have on the oil refining business. James J. Mulva, Conoco chief executive, said in a statement that the current bill “left domestic refineries unfairly penalized versus international competition.”

HumaneWatch.org Scrutinizes HSUS

HumaneWatch.org, launched Tuesday by the Center for Consumer Freedom, will analyze the activities of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HumaneWatch will include a blog written by CCF’s director of research, a document library and a database capable of tracking the dozens of nonprofit (and for-profit) organizations that make up HSUS’s sprawling financial empire.

HSUS has become the animal rights industry’s most powerful player, but it has avoided serious public scrutiny for years. HSUS raises nearly $100 million annually from Americans who largely believe their donations filter down to local pet shelters and improve the lives of dogs and cats. But in 2008, less than one-half of 1percent of HSUS’s budget consisted of grants to actual hands-on “humane societies” that deal with the thankless task of sheltering unwanted pets.

“Someone has to ask the hard questions about the Humane Society of the United States, and HumaneWatch will be a relentless source of useful information,” said David Martosko, CCF director of research. “Nearly 1 million Americans donate money to HSUS every year. And most are completely unaware that they’re bankrolling PETA-style propaganda, far-reaching anti-meat campaigns, a huge staff of lawyers and bloated pension plans for HSUS executives.”

Sen. Inhofe Earns Farm Bureau ‘Golden Plow’ Award

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 17, 2010—The American Farm Bureau Federation has honored Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) with its “Golden Plow” award, the highest recognition the organization bestows on members of Congress. Inhofe was presented the award for his support of America’s farmers and ranchers by AFBF President Bob Stallman and Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling. The award was presented Monday in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s nomination of Inhofe for the award cited numerous examples of his work on critical Farm Bureau issues, including his opposition to cap-and-trade climate change legislation. Inhofe even called attention to Farm Bureau’s “Don’t Cap Our Future” grassroots campaign against climate change legislation during a speech on the Senate floor.

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