Archive for the ‘Private Property’ Category

Legacy and Estate Planning Workshop for Families

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
3:30 to 9 p.m.
Arapahoe County Fairgrounds
25690 E. Quincy Ave., Aurora, CO

Hosted by CSU Extension-Arapahoe County

How do you pass on the legacy that was your life? 

How can you help your family carry on
after you are no longer with them?

Learn how to organize your legacy:
• Transferring personal possessions of emotional value
• Passing on family traditions, history and beliefs
• Communicating final instructions and last wishes
• Estate planning for financial assets, real estate and debt

Register here for this exciting and interactive workshop by Dec. 3.

Alert: Speak Out for Private Property

The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force will meet again on Wednesday, October 13 at the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center, 100 Wulfsohn Rd., in Glenwood Springs.  The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., with hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. reserved for public input.

This is a chance for Farm Bureau members to make their voice heard regarding rafting, private property rights and that these disputes should be settled at the local level.

The Task Force was created for the purpose of crafting a dispute-resolution process to resolve future conflicts between river users and private landowners on Colorado waterways.  If you are unable to make this task force meeting, written input/comments may be provided by email at

Colorado Farm Bureau Disappointed in River Access Taskforce Appointees

The Colorado Farm Bureau is extremely disappointed in the make-up of Governor Ritter’s River Access Dispute Resolution Taskforce. A cursory level of research shows that the political orientation of the task force appointees is clearly one-sided, with one of the Governor’s appointees a signatory of an online “9-11 Truth” petition and many more being directly involved in rafting, outfitting and recreational related enterprises.

“In addition to the Governor making some questionable appointments to this taskforce, I am most disappointed that he clearly and purposely chose to alienate the organization whose members stand to potentially lose the most from this process. The Colorado Farm Bureau represents a large majority of riverfront landowners in Colorado, but our nominees to the task force are absent from the list of voting appointees,” said Alan Foutz, President of Colorado Farm Bureau. “It is disappointing that one of the organizations that was most engaged in the debate surrounding HB- 1188 is excluded from this process.”

In addition to a lack of diversity in political philosophy and vocation, the Governors list is also lacking members who live and work on the land of Colorado’s Western Slope.

“Over half of the members of the taskforce reside in Front Range communities. It is apparent that the Governor is not serious about creating an equitable process that will yield fair and workable results for all parties involved. It shows his lack of seriousness about the issue,” continued Foutz.

The task force is scheduled to hold several meetings over the next year to develop a process by which disputes over river access can be mediated on a stretch by stretch basis. The taskforce will provide a final report with recommendations for the Governor and Legislature by Dec. 31

Complete Federal Land Grab Document Released

The BLM wants to declare federal lands the size of Colorado and Wyoming combined, as off limits to multiple use.

Congressman Rob Bishop, the gentleman from Utah who kindly provided Americans with the documents that showed the Obama administration was planning another federal land-grab, has come through again. (The Pulse covered the original leaked document extensively. Read the original story here.)

Bishop’s office has release the entire BLM document titled “Treasured Landscapes” of which only pages were released a few months ago. It lays out what some consider a sweeping and detailed plan for changing the way the federal government manages land over the next 25 years.

The document lays out a sea change in the way the federal government manages land. It proposed that rather than manage individual plots of land, regardless of size, the government should consider managing entire “landscapes, ecosystems, airsheds and watersheds.”

Continue reading

NY Times Examines Right to Trespass

Mark Schumacher (left) is the rafter behind HB 1188. Lee Spann, a rancher, fears the consequences of the measure to property rights and fishing interests.

Until recently, an uneasy truce existed between rafters and landowners. But that truce quickly disintegrated this year over a bill introduced in the legislature that would bolster rafters’ rights to float through private property.

(Image: New York Times)

News Roundup- HB 1188

This week, the Wall Street Journal took a look at HB 1188 and lawmakers held firm despite allegations of extortion attempts by rafting interests.

Critics question rafter’s motives after land, money talk
Denver Post, Jessica Fender
Landowners have questioned the motives of a river rafter at the heart of a legislative fight over access to Colorado waterways after he named in private negotiations his price – $750,000 and a fancy lot – to stay off a stretch of the Taylor River.

Lawmakers object to proposed rafting settlement
AP, Steven Paulson
Talks between a Taylor River landowner and a rafting company won’t affect legislation defining the rights of rafting firms to use private Colorado waterways, a state lawmaker said Wednesday.

In This Political Battle, a River Runs Through It
Wall Street Journal, Stephanie Simon
In a clash that some lawmakers have dubbed “Row v. Wade,” rafters and anglers are squaring off over rights to prized Colorado waterways. The debate has spilled into the state legislature and inspired at least 24 citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives.

(Image: Charlie Brewer)

Farm Bureau Talks HB 1188 on Rocky Mountain PBS

On Wednesday evening, Colorado Farm Bureau EVP Troy Bredenkamp and Terry Fankhauser of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Assn. appeared on the PBS show Studio 12, to talk about the Right to Trespass bill.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Groups File River Initiatives

As the debate on the Senate version of HB 1188 heats up in the media, John Leede and Charles Thrailkill, members of the Creekside Coalition, filed 20 ballot measures, limiting the use of rivers or targeting rafters with strict liability provisions.

Rafting interests filed 4 of their own initiatives. They say they filed their ballot proposals to ensure Colorado rivers stay open to the public.

While all 24 measures will never be certified, the numbers game is an effort to ensure some measures will make it onto the ballot.

Eric Anderson, spokesman for the Creekside Coalition said, “Until we’re assured that the commercial rafters’ one-sided proposals are not moving forward this year, we need to keep our options open to ensure that property rights in Colorado are protected.”

Ballot supporters need to collect 76,047 valid signatures, which is 5 percent of the total votes cast in the 2006 secretary of state’s race.

News Round-up: HB 1188

Rafting bill hits rough water

GJ Sentinel – The Daily Sentinel
The Colorado Senate did the prudent thing Friday and halted a rafting-rights bill that had been sailing through the …

Raft bill sinks in legislature
Grand Junction Sentinel – Charles Ashby
Not only would river rafting outfitters have earned the right to float through private land, but everyone else would have, too…

Senate may punt rafting issue to Water Congress
Pueblo Chieftain – Patrick Malone
Some lawmakers want to tackle the issue; others content not to act on it this session…

Rafting bill is thrown overboard
The Durango Herald – Joe Hanel
DENVER – Opponents of a “right to float” bill for rafters have sunk it by turning it into a study. Technically, the bill is still alive…

Good week for future of energy in Colorado
The Durango Herald – Bruce Whitehead
The amendment calls for requiring an evaluation to be done of the criminal and civil trespass issues associated with rafting in Colorado

Controversial river rights bill hung up in state Senate
Steamboat Pilot – Joel Reichenberger
The current legislation came about because of a disagreement regarding rafting on the Taylor River near Gunnison in central Colorado


HB 1188 Amended to a Study

Today, the controversial right-to-trespass bill, HB 1188, was amended to become a study by the Colorado Water Congress. Senator Al White ran the amendment, which recognizes the need to study and potentially clarify the existing law concerning civil and criminal trespass by boaters on rivers and streams flowing through private property in Colorado.

The CWC is directed to study the issue, taking into account the “legal, economic, environmental and law enforcement issues related to boating through private property.”

The amended version of the bill has one more vote to go through in the Senate then it will be sent back to the House.  At that time, the House must decide whether to accept the Senate version of the bill.  If they do, the bill will be sent to the Governor.  If the House does not accept the updated version, the bill may be sent to a conference committee for additional debate.

Thank you to all of you who contacted your Senators.  This action today is a positive one and will allow for a broader dialog about the issue of floating through private property.

(Image: cramsay23)

HB 1188 Passes with Amendments

The ‘Right to Trespass’ bill passed the full Senate today on an amendment that directs the Colorado water Congress to study the issue.

The amendment states that the State “recognizes the need to study and potentially clarify the existing law concerning civil and criminal trespass by boaters on rivers and streams flowing through private property in Colorado.”

The CWC is directed to study the issue, taking into account the “legal, economic, environmental and law enforcement issues related to boating through private property.”. The participants and procedures for the study will be determined by the CWC Board. The study shall be completed by Oct. 2010 and submitted to the General Assembly no later than November 30, 2010.

This post will be updated as we sort through the amendment and the potential is has in the House.

Farm Bureau Proposes Legislation at Caucuses Tonight

Colorado’s precinct caucuses are tonight and in light of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision to approve HB 1188, we are asking you to attend your local caucus to push your political party to pass a resolution supporting private property rights.

If you need to find the location of your caucus use the links below.

**Republican Party **Democratic Party

Property rights should be put into the official platform of both the Republican and Democratic Party in every county across Colorado.

Private property rights are under attack in Colorado. We are asking voters to propose the following resolution at the upcoming caucuses. The language of the resolution is simple and fair. We hope that political leaders and party officials on both sides of the aisle will take a strong stand for private property rights in Colorado.

The proposed resolution text is below. Please encourage those at your caucus to amend the language as they see fit.

We believe in the American capitalistic, private, competitive enterprise system in which property is privately owned, privately managed and operated for profit and individual satisfaction. Any erosion of that right weakens all other rights guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution.

We oppose any legislation that would allow public access to or through private property, including access through waterways, without permission of the property owner or authorized agent.

We oppose any state, federal, county or municipal regulations that encroach on the rights of private property owners.

Continue reading

HB 1188 Passes on to Full Senate

After more than 7 hours of public testimony and debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the controversial Right to Trespass bill, HB 1188, to the Senate Floor on a party line vote.  Amendment language was added to the bill that broadened the language to include all boaters, not just commercial outfitters.  The amendment also expanded the bill to affect more waterways – those that have been commercially ran at least once between the years 2000-2009.

Controversial language regarding portaging was removed from the bill but boaters will now be able to get away with incidental touch in order to continue to have forward progress on the river.  The right-to-float was also codified in the bill with the new amendment language.

The bill was passed 4-3 with Senators Renfroe, King and Lundberg voting in opposition.  Colorado Farm Bureau continues to OPPOSE HB 1188 as amended.

The room was packed with farmers and ranchers from all over Colorado who showed up to show their support for private property rights.  Testimony that was given by CFB members was extremely helpful in highlighting the problems with the proposal.

The bill will now move to the Senate floor for further debate.  Please watch the Pulse for more updates.

CFB would like to thank all the members who made the trip to Denver on such short notice. Without your help, the bill would have likely passed by a much greater margin.

Thank you to all who have sent in letters or made phone calls to your Senators.  Although the bill made it through tonight, your efforts have paid off and will continue to help us as we move the fight to the next level.

(Image: James the photographer)

ALERT: Senators, Vote NO on HB 1188

We have been notified that HB 1188 the ‘Right to Trespass’ bill’s hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee has been switched to this coming MONDAY, MARCH 15 at 1:30PM.   Please plan to be in Denver if possible to attend the committee hearing in person. We need all hands on deck for this measure if we have any hope of killing it.

We need as many “boots and hats” in the hearing room as possible to counteract the numerous rafting interests that will be present and to let Judiciary Committee members know how important this issue is to agriculture, landowners and property rights.

We also encourage you to use this ALERT to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge them to vote “NO” on HB 1188. If you have the time, please personalize your message to the senators so that they know that you really care and that you are watching their vote in this important issue.

We would also ask that you forward this alert to your entire list of friends, family and neighbors so that they can also contact their senators! You do not need to be a member of Farm Bureau to use this ALERT system, just someone who cares about private property rights.   Do not hesitate and let your voice be heard!

Senator Hudak, Vote NO on HB 1188

Senator Schwartz, Vote NO on HB 1188

Updated ‘Right to Trespass’ News Round-Up


Bill Threatens Ag, Tourism Balance

Coloradoan- Mar 3, 2010

The Threat of Commercial Rafters

The Aspen Times- Feb 24, 2010


Guest Commentary: Why favor rafters?

Denver Post – ‎Feb 28, 2010

Stow the oars on rafting bill

Grand Junction Sentinel – ‎Feb 26, 2010‎

Impractical rafting bill threatens Colorado’s property rights

Grand Junction Sentinel – ‎Feb 26, 2010‎

OUR VIEW: Rafting is not a basic human right

Colorado Springs Gazette – ‎Feb 22, 2010‎

Legislation assails private property rights in Colorado

Ag Journal – ‎Feb 11, 2010‎

Rafting or trespassing?

Pueblo Chieftain – Feb 28, 2010


Pueblo Chieftain – Feb 22, 2010

Farm Bureau Applauds Utah House for Turning Back Trespass Bill

The Pulse – March 1, 2010

ALERT: Vote NO on HB 1188!

The Pulse – Feb 17, 2010

House Votes to Erode Private Property Rights

The Pulse – February 16, 2010

Rep. Curry, House Judiciary Committee Sell Property Rights Down the River

The Pulse – February 9, 2010

More Opposition to HB 1188

Two more op-eds were published in Colorado newspapers opposing HB 1188. Opposition to the measure has been slowly growing across the state as more and more people realize that the bill goes far beyond simply clarifying the current system of floating on Colorado’s rivers.

Larimer County Farm Bureau President Bob Bee was published in the Ft. Collins Coloradoan yesterday, writing in opposition to the proposed ‘Right to Trespass’ bill that is currently up for consideration in the Senate Judiciary committee. Another op-ed was also published in the Aspen Times calling for the measure to be killed on the grounds that it completely ignores landowners.

Bill Threatens Ag, Tourism Balance

Coloradoan- Mar 3, 2010

The Threat of Commercial Rafters

The Aspen Times- Feb 24, 2010

(Image: Zevotron)

Farm Bureau Applauds Utah House for Turning Back Trespass Bill

Ranchers speak with legislators in the Utah capitol.

The Colorado Farm Bureau and other groups in opposition to House Bill 1188, the controversial “Right to Float” bill, are praising the Utah House of Representatives for killing a similar measure introduced into that body. Last Tuesday, the Utah House defeated a measure that would have given recreational water users the right to trespass on private property along streambeds, so long as they could have seen the high water mark, and remained below it

Colorado Farm Bureau President Alan Foutz said upon hearing the news, “Both parties in the Utah House understand the importance of private property rights and I hope Colorado’s state senators to do the right thing and kill HB 1188, the ‘right to trespass’ bill.”

“We have heard over and over again from HB 1118 proponents that Colorado is the only Western state with unsettled law on the ‘floating’ issue. I think this action proves otherwise.”

As in Colorado, agricultural and landowner interests in Utah opposed the taking of private property rights that the two similar bills represent and reject the notion that recreation and access is under assault. Groups opposed to the bill say that direct cooperation between landowners and recreational users has been successful in balancing the interests of all parties.

“Frankly, the on-going success of the floating industry in both Colorado and Utah is a testament to the effectiveness of the current system. That the recreational water users in both states have grown and thrived under the current system, argues for more local cooperation and less statewide intervention,” concluded Foutz.

Colorado’s HB 1188 has been passed by the House, and has yet to be assigned to a requisite committee for consideration in the Senate. The Colorado Farm Bureau, 26 member organizations of the Colorado Ag Council, 11 other state level organizations and several newspapers around the state oppose HB 1188.

(Image: Salt Lake Tribune)

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 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)

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.

ALERT: Vote NO on HB 1188!

HB 1188 is a fundamental attack on private property rights and if passed, will severely compromise a landowner’s ability to restrict access to his/her private property.  In short, this bill is a license to “trespass” and a clear “taking” of one’s property right by nearly every legal mind who has assessed this bill.

Specifically, HB 1188 states that commercial river outfitters will be able to enter private property without first getting the permission of the landowner, if they are portaging while river rafting.  This goes far beyond the “incidental touch” of a raft/boat or a rafter on the bed or banks of a stream.

Further, HB1188 allows for the condemnation of private property for the commercial benefit of another without any concern for the due process or the payment of just compensation to the landowner.  By creating a right to “navigate” on rivers and streams and granting permission to trespass upon private property, the State will be voiding a long recognized right of private ownership.

HB 1188 recently passed out of the  House (40-25) and will now go before the Senate. Please take a minute to let your senators know how you feel about this destructive legislation!! Even if you did an Alert before, please take the time do to another for the Senate’s consideration. Click below!!!

Help us do all that we can to make sure that HB 1188 does not see the light of day. Go to the CFB ALERT page and TAKE ACTION!

House Votes to Erode Private Property Rights

The Colorado House of Representatives today voted 40-25 to further remove the private property rights of landowners and give them to special interests. HB 1188, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Curry (I-Gunnison) would grant river outfitters and rafting guides the right to trespass on private property without the prior notification, consent or compensation of the landowner.

“The legislature has been extremely tough on what they refer to as ‘special interests’ since the session started. But in this case they don’t seem to have a problem handing over the rights of private citizens to special interests,” said Alan Foutz, Colorado Farm Bureau President. “I wish those of who voted for the bill would recognize that this is a clear taking of private property rights

The bill was written to resolve a dispute between one landowner and one outfitter in western Colorado, but will have implications for every landowner in the state.

“Why House members and Rep. Curry feel the need to punish landowners across Colorado for one isolated dispute is beyond me,” said Foutz. “I would like to thank those members who voted against the bill and stood up for private property rights in Colorado.”

The bill will now move on to an undetermined Senate committee for consideration in the coming weeks.

Predictions on Equine Welfare Realized

Four years ago, a report by the Animal Welfare Council entitled, “The Unintended Consequences of a Ban on Humane
Processing of Horses in the United States”
made predictions as to the welfare of horses under a ban on processing activites in the U.S. While animal activist groups blindly continue on their march toward ending horse processing once and for all, some groups can still see the forest for the trees.

The Animal Welfare Council has taken a look at the predictions made in their study four years ago and current data suggests that they were and continue to be correct about the declining state of equine welfare under a ban on processing.

Here are the Facts:
1. Experts said the closure of American plants would lead to an increase in abandoned and unwanted horses, putting a severe strain on the budgets of rescue facilities, sheriffs departments, and local governments.It did.  In a recent national study conducted by the Unwanted Horse Coalition, over 90% of those polled indicated the number of neglected and abused horses is increasing. It requires about $2,340 to maintain a horse for one year.  With no provisions for the care of unwanted horses, the financial burden has fallen to local taxpayers.

2. Experts said the closure of the USDA-regulated plants would lead to increased equine neglect, abuse, and malnourishment.  It did. There are many reports documenting the rise in neglect, abuse and abandonment including the report from the Colorado Department of Agriculture stating that the number of equine cruelty investigations in Colorado rose 60 percent from 2005 to 2009.

3. Experts predicted then that the closure of the plants in the United States would devastate the market for horses.  It did. Livestock market owners now put the value of all horses at 40 percent of their 2005 price.

Despite the realization of these predictions, animal rights groups continue to push for a complete ban on horse processing in the United States and also for a ban on the transportation of horses for the purposes of processing. This would close off the last avenue to put unwanted horses to a dignified use in processing plants in Canada and Mexico.

Animal rights groups owe it to the welfare and wellbeing of horses in the United States to suspend their foolish campaign to end horse processing. By continuing to allow the narrow-minded and dogmatic view of horse processing to animate their every move, they walk directly past the declining state of horse welfare due in large part to the regulation they sought to enact. Its time for equine advocates and animal rights groups to put on their ‘big boy pants’ and make the tough but necessary choice to allow horse processing to continue for the betterment of horse welfare across the country.

Rep. Curry, House Judiciary Committee Sell Property Rights Down the River

Rep. Kathleen Curry (D-Gunnison)

Rep. Kathleen Curry (D-Gunnison) and a group of legislators on the Colorado House Judiciary Committee have launched a multi-pronged attack on private property rights in Colorado. HB 1188 introduced by Rep. Curry and passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday constitutes a statutory right to trespass on private property and overturns decades of Colorado case-law and state statute.

Currently, HB 1188 would grant commercial river outfitters the right to enter private property without first getting the permission of the landowner, if they choose to portage on stream banks while river rafting. This goes far beyond the ‘incidental touch’ of a raft/boat or a rafter on the bed or banks of a stream. Further, proponents of HB 1188 made it clear in their testimony that they would be supportive of the proposed legislation being expanded to include all types of boaters and fishermen.

“We have not seen such a blatant attack on private property rights in this state for some time,” explained Dr. Alan Foutz, President of Colorado Farm Bureau, the states largest agriculture organization. “Representative Curry’s bill effectively takes private property rights out of the hands of private landowners and grants them to commercial entities.”

Continue reading

Check out the Contours on That One

By Dal Grooms

There’s been much talk recently about how state-of-the-art airport security equipment can reveal body contours. Many people shudder at the thought of someone looking at the very personal curves and slopes of their bodies. Farmers and ranchers, on the other hand, are more than happy to show off another kind of contours—the ones on their farmland.

Nature has given the United States many land formations but crop farmers often are most attracted to that 20 percent with rolling hills and rich soils. To protect that soil, farmers use a variety of conservation methods but the ones that really show off the land are terraces, buffers and contour planting.

These conservation practices accent the grace and beauty of America’s farmland like a string of pearls around a woman’s neck. Terraces in particular are like pearls that highlight the rich, productive hillsides.

One can clearly see conservation practices in place when driving through farm country all across our nation. There are bands of color that can be seen with strip cropping and frames around fields when borders are used. And be sure to take note of crop buffers planted to protect the branching veins of waterways.

But conservation practices aren’t just about accenting the hills and slopes of the land. They are about keeping the soil in place—an important factor in crop productivity.

The practices are working. The Agriculture Department’s most recent National Resources Inventory report shows that between 1982 and 2003, soil erosion nationwide dropped dramatically. When the amount of soil lost per acre is compared, it’s down 66 percent. That means less dust in the air and clearer water in streams. It also means wildlife will find more habitats for shelter and food.

USDA’s conservation programs during that time have included taking farmland out of production. It’s been exciting during the past seven years, however, to see more focus being put on conservation measures for working land. This approach results in a working resource that provides food, fiber and fuel. But it also yields a cleaner environment, enhanced wildlife habitat and a farmscape marked by beauty.

Under the skilled hand of a conservation-minded farmer, our farmland works in numerous ways.

So, the next time you’re driving through farm country, take a look. Appreciate the farmland resources Mother Nature gave us. Appreciate the farmer who dressed them with conservation practices. And know these are contours each of us would be glad to show off.

LA Times Looks into Cattle Theft

Roaring Springs Ranch manager Stacy Davies stands in a pasture in the Catlow Valley outside Frenchglen, Ore.

The LA Times takes a look into the rash of rustling taking place in Great basin country.

“Cattle theft — rustling — is not just something you read about in old Western magazines or watch in the Western movies you see,” said Ed Kilgore, sheriff of Nevada’s Humboldt County. “I really believe it’s going on with people riding horses like in the old days, gathering cattle and taking them to a place they can load them up on transport.”

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Top Five Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2009 Announced

Voters Give Top ‘Honor’ to lawsuit brought by illegal immigrants who sued rancher for turning them over to U.S. Border Patrol.

Nominees were drawn from the monthly Most Ridiculous Lawsuit poll winners, chosen by visitors to, a public awareness campaign Web site that aims to show how abusive lawsuits affect small businesses and average families in very real ways.

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Estate Tax Viewed as Big Ag Issue in 2010

The estate tax will be one of the big issues in Congress for farmers and ranchers in 2010, according to Mark Maslyn, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The exemption levels at the end of 2009 were $3.5 million per household. In 2010 that has gone away. The estate tax has expired,” Maslyn said in an AFBF Newsline interview. “However, leadership in Congress and the administration are opposed to keeping it dead, and it will come back to life in 2011, but it will do so in a way that encompasses far more people than it previously affected: a $1 million per household exemption. And that’s going to cover a lot more people, particularly in agriculture.”

Farm Bureau continues to advocate repeal of the estate tax, maintenance of stepped-up basis and action to provide certainty for estate tax planning. AFBF backs H.R. 3905, the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009, introduced by Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Artur Davis (D-Ala.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The bill phases in a $5 million exemption and 35 percent top rate over 10 years while preserving stepped-up basis.


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House Votes to Make Current Estate Tax Permanent

The House on Thursday voted to make the current estate tax exemption and rate permanent. The measure approved by the House locks in an exemption of $3.5 million per individual.

“What passed the House was better than doing nothing, because it would expire this coming January, but then come back to life in 2011 with exemption levels of only a million dollars per person and 55 percent tax rate,” said Mark Maslyn, the AFBF’s executive director of public policy. The 55 percent tax rate was in place before President George W. Bush was elected.

Farm Bureau is urging the Senate to approve a bill with a permanent fix for estate taxes, including a higher exemption level ($5 million) and a lower rate (35 percent). Farm Bureau has long advocated permanent repeal of estate taxes, but the prevailing budgetary conditions in Washington make that unlikely, according to Masyln.

The Senate is under pressure to take action on estate taxes, with a Dec. 31 deadline to address the issue looming

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