Governor addresses producer concernsWritten by Saige Albert
Mead addressed a number of issues affecting Wyoming currently, including predators and natural gas prices.
“I have talked about the importance of agriculture and how important the wolf issue was to ag and to Wyoming,” said Mead during the conference. “We are on the right track now in regards to wolves.”
Mead noted that the Federal Government has held up their obligations for delisting wolves, with a rule set to be published on Oct. 1.
“I met with Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Secretary of the Interior said that delisting is long past due. As far as the Federal Government goes, we are full steam ahead,” he added.
Wild Earth Guardians has indicated they are preparing a lawsuit, and Mead indicated they will likely ask for an injunction.
“We are already preparing to fight that,” Mead commented. “We feel fairly comfortable that we may prevail.”
Additionally, Mead noted that other predators, largely grizzly bears, are still a problem and are next on the list.
“I didn’t want to tackle grizzly bears and wolves at the same time,” he noted. “I wrote to the Secretary of the Interior, and he agreed that grizzly bears need to be delisted as well.”
The effort will begin after the delisting rule regarding wolves.
“In the state, minerals are our number one revenue,” Mead said. “Natural gas is roughly 20 percent of our total revenue. Because natural gas prices have gone down, we looked at our budget in a serious way.”
He continued, explaining that prior to the budget session this year, the state budget was cut an additional $115 million to account for falling prices, and since that time, Mead said things aren’t looking better.
“The fact is, I think we are in for hard budget times,” he added. “As a result of that, the legislature asked each state agency to prepare four percent budget cuts. I asked the state agencies to double that to eight percent.”
While noting the cuts won’t be easy to take, Mead said, “We have fared well because we do not outspend our revenue.”
“We will continue to look at the budget,” he added. “If cuts need to be made, we are going to make them.”
Despite the tough times, Mead encouraged producers to remember the true impact that agriculture has on the state.
As a final thought, Mead added, “Year in and year out, agriculture continues to be the culture and heritage of Wyoming.”