Current Edition

current edition

    Once again, Wyoming livestock producers are the victims of a politically based decision from a federal district judge who seems to have made a decision and then wrote a 40-page ruling to back it up. In doing so, he had total disregard for, and in a sense stomped on, the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
    It’s not that we all had that much faith in the ESA to begin with, but Wyoming, Montana and Idaho had given one last shot at making it work. It was a combined effort by government, both state and federal, livestock and wildlife organizations and a lot of the public. Left alone, that effort most likely would have worked. Now we’re looking at around two or more years before we know anything for sure. What was already a messy situation has become worse.
    One of the judge’s main reasons for relisting the wolves was the claim that wolf recovery standards haven’t yet been met. He specifically mentioned, “The federal government had not met its standards for wolf recovery, including interbreeding of wolves among the states to ensure healthy genetics.” So now we have to be worried about their personal moments and make sure the wolves are “roaming enough.”
    As I understand it, the wolves first brought into Yellowstone all came from the same area, so genetics were not a problem then. The ruling stated that in order to grant the preliminary injunction the judge had to find the plaintiffs (the bad guys) had shown delisting has and will continue to result in “irreparable injury” to the wolf population. The judge went on to say such harm had been proven because the wolf control problems in the three states were “more than likely to eliminate any chance for genetic exchange to occur” among wolf populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area, central Idaho and northwestern Montana. Now we all know that wolves don’t roam much, right? They have only been found north of Denver, Utah and now in northwestern Oregon after originating from Yellowstone. There has been only one study so far on the genetic exchange of wolves and that’s not much to go on, especially on an issue of this magnitude. That argument only adds to the political intent of the ruling. Remember, a blindfolded lady with both scales level defines justice. I don’t feel that justice is working with a level set of scales on this issue.
    What about the irreparable injury to the livestock producers and our wildlife? This is our America, too. Wyoming and the other two states involved worked with everyone to ensure as level of a playing field as possible. Everyone took a hit and everyone had something to gain. Under Wyoming’s plan, the wolf would have survived and it would have roamed and mixed up its genetics to its heart’s delight.
    Why do issues get so polarized that they’re never changed until they fall off the table as being so one-sided? The Endangered Species Act just hit the floor.

        For the last couple of weeks we’ve all been watching the brucellosis issue in the Daniel area. “I am glad it’s not me,” and, “I sure feel for the family whose ranch the disease was found on,” have often been spoken in the agricultural community in recent weeks.
     We all feel bad for the family who owned the infected cattle and now must deal with the decisions that follow. That family has some unfair decisions to make in the next 60 days, decisions that affect the entire state and don’t necessarily make a lot of sense. Those decisions shouldn’t have to be made by the family, or anyone for that matter.
    The rules we live by to manage a brucellosis outbreak were developed long ago to curb transmission from cow to cow. That’s fair enough and through the years the guidelines were sufficient to eradicate the disease from most of the U.S. Those of us who ranch in the states surrounding Yellowstone National Park, however, now live under different circumstances.
    The Greater Yellowstone Area, with its elk and bison, is a region with an occurrence of brucellosis we now must manage for. We all know it is there; how it got there is history and no longer important to today’s debate. We have two new issues to deal with – how to stop the disease from spreading from wildlife to cattle and how to develop and administer effective vaccines for wildlife and cattle.
    We also need exceptions to the current federal rules for managing brucellosis in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Changing the rules will take too many years, more time than we have to wait. It is really unfair to ask the Daniel family to depopulate their herd. That family is the only one in Wyoming right now that can say for sure that their herd is brucellosis free. They’ve tested more recently than any of us. If they keep the herd, they need to continue testing. If they are forced to depopulate, and then purchase new cattle, the same will be true. Nothing stemming from the decision they’re being forced to make will help curb the occurrence of brucellosis in Wyoming.
    I hope that our governor, through his Brucellosis Task Force, will ask the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to make an exception to the brucellosis rules. It’s an exception that should apply to the Daniel family now facing a difficult decision and others that may face similar such choices in the future.
    The Brucellosis Task Force has done an excellent job to date. We need their help again as we seek rules and regulations that apply to the scenario at hand. When brucellosis strikes again it shouldn’t ruin a ranch or force someone to sell out, but allow us to move one step closer to improved management and an end goal of ending transmission of the disease from wildlife to livestock. If a ranch is forced to sell out for development because of brucellosis, the loss of open spaces costs wildlife and the livestock industry alike.
       After attending the Wyoming Stock Growers 2008 Environmental Stewardship Tour north of Daniel last week, one has to really believe in the bright future of Wyoming agriculture. The Pape Ranches were the winners of this meaningful award and the Pape family proved to everyone who spent the day on the ranch what great stewards of the land they truly are.
    We have all heard, or realize, ranching north of Pinedale is not always easy. No one who’s sober has ever used the term “banana belt” to describe the Daniel area or the five-and-a-half months out of the year they spend feeding hay. The Pape family and others have proved it to be possible, economical and environmentally sound. I’m not going to say it is easy for them, but they do it and they do it right.
    After listening to Norm, David and Fred, as well as visiting with other members of the family, they are a typical ag-based Wyoming family. It’s too bad 100 such awards couldn’t be given to the numerous deserving families each year. This state certainly has many ag producers worthy of recognition.
    Changing subjects, findings in a recent independent poll compiled by Rasmussen Reports on voter ratings of Congress is troubling. This national survey asked voters if they approve of what Congress is doing.
    Earlier Rasmussen surveys found half of all voters believe America’s best days are in the past, but another survey found 64 percent of voters also believe the world would be a better place if more countries were similar to the United States. That tells me they still believe in the U.S., but don’t have much confidence in America.
    This month’s survey said only nine percent of the voters polled believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job. I figure the nine percent must have been talking about Wyoming’s congressional delegation.
    The survey report went on to say Congress has not received higher than a 15 percent approval rating since the beginning of 2008. So far this year the ratings have dropped each month. It was especially poor for voters not affiliated with either party. Just three percent of those voters gave Congress positive ratings. More Democratic voters approved of Congress than Republican voters and that makes sense with the Democratic majority. Only 13 percent of the Democratic voters and eight percent of the Republican voters gave Congress a positive rating. That is much lower than the President’s ratings.
    On another issue, please don’t forget the two Grazing Management Workshops with Roy Roath from Colorado State University. One will be held in the Medicine Bow area on Aug. 4; RSVP to Todd Heward at the Medicine Bow Conservation District at 307-378-2221. The other workshop will be held in the Bates Hole area on Aug. 5; please contact Deena McDaniels at the Natrona County Conservation District at 307-234-4022.
    The Bates Hole/Shirley Basin Sage-Grouse Local Working Group and the Natrona County Conservation District sponsor these workshops. They’re of no cost to you, and you get a free lunch.
    Maybe Congress would be more popular if they bought us lunch.                                                                                          Dennis
           A while back a news piece regarding higher taxes caught my attention. Like a lot of you, for me higher taxes rate right up there with dental appointments, colonoscopies, replacing water gaps and losing your favorite horse. Now you all know the bad parts of my spring season, but the good parts are far more numerous. Overall, it has been one of the best springs we can all remember.
    As I understand it, President Bush initiated tax relief legislation in 2001 and in 2003 Congress passed it. The end of May marked the five-year anniversary of the 2003 tax relief. Now, Congress needs to extend it or make it permanent. With it being an election year, the decision remains up in the air. As we in agriculture know, tax relief is a great tool for small businesses.
    If Congress does not pass the tax relief, or extend it, we will see one of the largest tax increases in history. Here are some of the figures from the White House press release:
•    116 million income tax payers will see their taxes go up by an average of $1,800.
•    Married couples will once again be forced to pay more taxes as a married couple than if each were filing single. Twelve million single women with dependents will face a tax increase averaging $1,091.
•    Eighteen million seniors will face a $2,181 average tax increase.
•    27 million small business owners will face an average $4,066 tax increase.
    Those are staggering numbers. Kind of takes your mind off of fixing the water gaps, doesn’t it?
    The White House press release goes on to say that a typical family will pay around $500 more per child in taxes and some families with children will face an average tax increase of $2,323. With all of the other high costs we are bearing these days it will make paying taxes that much harder. It went on to say a family of four earning $40,000 would see an increase of over $2,300 in taxes and a family of four earning $80,000 would see an increase of around $2,000.
    If these figures provided by the White House are true – and we all know that with politics there are multiple sides – the estate tax will also continue to prove harmful. The so-called “death tax” will come back in full force. In addition the tax rate on dividends will return to a maximum of 39.6 percent and the top rate tax on long-term capital gains will climb from 15 percent to 20 percent.
    They say that 75 percent of the taxpayers who are currently benefiting from the reduction in the top rate are small business owners and that means agriculture in Wyoming.
    As we get close to the 4th of July congressional recess, we need to plan on visiting with our members of Congress and ask them about the proposed tax increase. I know that they are on our side and need our help in preventing this tax increase.