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Pony Up

Written by Dennis Sun
This past week many of us got a good taste of winter, as a fast storm moved through the state, leaving colder temperatures and, in some places, quite a bit of snow.
    Most of us have had a great winter so far, and that has really helped with the feed bill and the winter hay supply. Remember, this year hay is something of which Wyoming doesn’t have a big supply. It would be interesting to know how many trucks loaded with hay have left the state – it has to be a record.
    One of the few good points about winter is that, with the short days, we seem to have more time to read. In doing so I came across a USDA fact sheet on Wyoming agriculture and other statistics. One of the facts that stood out is the federal government dollars that come back to the state. We all cuss the government and say we need less of it, but we do deserve some of the dollars.
    If one figures in both urban and rural people, Wyoming received almost $10,000 per person annually the last few years. Of that, agriculture and natural resources were only less than $150 per person. You would have thought that figure would have been higher, but income security was around $5,000 and community resources were about $2,200 per person, defense and space was just less than $1,000 and human resources were less than $200. These stats came from the year 2007, and some would say this is huge amount of money, and it is, but I bet the city of Chicago gets more than the whole state of Wyoming, and almost half of our state is federal lands.  
    If you looked at it by type of payments instead of the purpose, the biggest, at over $2,000 per person, is retirement/disability payments, followed by around $2,000 per person for guaranteed/insured loans. In 2007, federal grants came to around $1,200 per person, and federal salaries and wages came to around $1,260 per person. We think that sounds high, but when we look at all the federal employees in Wyoming, it may not be so bad. Remember, we have a large Indian reservation, a large Air Force base, some big national parks and lots of federal acreage.  
    We all know much of this funding will come to a halt in the near future, and it needs to, but, and it is a big “but,” if the federal government and the people of this country want Wyoming to take care of the wolf, sage grouse, grizzly bear and all of the other species that they say we need lots of, or will not take off the endangered lists, the people of this country will just have to pony up. And, if these species stop development or agriculture in the state, the loss should be compensated to the affected Wyoming people.
    Those around the nation who force more regulations on us in Wyoming can’t have it both ways. We’ll give you wolves, grizzlies and sage grouse at managed levels, but the whole country should help pay for it.
    Dennis