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Ten Thoughts on Cliven Bundy, the BLM and Me!

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In contemplating responses to last night’s blog, it seems there are a few points I need to make more clear. I’ve also come up with a few morsels for you to chew on:

  1. I am a Flag Waving, God Fearing, Star Spangled Banner Loving, Red Blooded American who reads her Imprimis from Hillsdale College, monthly. (Google it.) I believe in our Constitutional Rights. I believe in the Rights the Constitutional Amendments have given us. I will defend my Rights and this Nation to the death if that’s what’s asked of me.  I will obey the laws that have been laid in front of me. If I feel laws or politicians are infringing on my rights, I will take action to change what I can. (See numerous posts about CWA, NRA, Property Rights, Water Rights, and Second Amendment Rights.)
  2. In order to have a place at the table in negotiations, you must be in good standing with all parties at the negotiating table.
  3. Several statements have been made that the Government has been manipulating grazing contracts for years, that the Government can’t be trusted and that the Government is breaking the rules, perjuring themselves and violating their own contracts. If all these statements are true, you probably should not depend on the Government as your business partner, your livelihood and your sole source of income.  Ranchers in California have had a second source of income for years. This may be the future of Ranching across the rest of the US.
  4. If you tell the Government to expect a fight, expect the Government to come armed.
  5. If you tell Protesters to have Funeral Arrangements in order, expect the Protesters to come armed.
  6. If you act like an uncivilized redneck, you will be treated as such.
  7. You can beat the Government in Court and at negotiations.  My family has successfully negotiated with the State of California when a gigantic pipeline bifurcated our ranch. I will not disclose details but I will tell you that we got everything we asked for.  And we are not the only family to successfully negotiate.  Settrinis won.  Chiltons won.  The list goes on.  Don’t give up.
  8. STOP selling your property to Land Conservancies, Land Trusts and any entity with the word “Government” in the description.  You are giving away your rights to that property – no matter what they tell you (See point 3).
  9. Bundy v BLM is EXACTLY why ALL elections matter.  (Thank you Marie!!)
  10. If you didn’t vote in our last election or don’t make a habit out of voting, your opinion means nothing to me.

As mentioned, I didn’t start this blog to make friends. I certainly have no grand delusions that everyone will agree with me, all the time.  I sincerely hope these ten points were, at least, a little thought provoking.

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Vegas isn’t the only excitement in Clark County

I’ve spent my life on the edge of popular opinion. Although we are much a product of our environment, a lot of my opinions lie in opposition to that of my parents or employers. Within the Ag Community, I get more than a few startled looks and angry responses when I suggest that agriculture would be a far healthier industry if we stopped accepting subsides from the government (Go ahead. 🙂 I’ve heard it all. You’re not changing my mind.). It’s taken me a solid week to sort out my thoughts in Bundy v BLM.

When Bundy v BLM recently hit the national airwaves, I believed, like many others that Cliven Bundy was getting screwed. I still believe he got screwed – 20 years ago. Many of the details in this case are hazy. Many can be left for personal interpretation. And if you listen to the stories about Mineral Rights and proposed Solar Farms, it’s enough to make the hair on the back of any Rural American’s neck stand on end as it wreaks of Agenda 21.

Here we are, a week into national headlines and the Bundy Supporters have declared victory because the BLM has retreated and Bundy’s cattle have been returned, save for the unconfirmed number of head killed when contract cowboys attempted to gather. But victory for how long?

No doubt this story has been steeped in Constitutional Rights Violations. Government Agencies are seemingly performing the work of Agenda 21. And this is the last cattleman standing in Clark County, Nevada. I want to be on Cliven Bundy’s side.

I want to believe that this is another case of government overreach and I believe it is. I want to believe that Bundy did everything he legally could in order to keep grazing the land his family had been on since the 1870’s, but I don’t believe he did. I want to believe that our judicial system is always on the right side of justice and that the right party always wins, but I know that’s not true.

My discomfort lies on several facets of this story: 1. We have glorified a man who refused to recognize the federal government. He is not acting any more civilized than a tattooed gang member engaged in a turf war. 2. 20+ years of rulings in Federal Court have been against the Bundys and for the most part, there has been not a peep from all these ‘protesters’. 3. If the government was not involved this case and it was classic, Tenant v Landlord, the politics of the protesters would be exactly the opposite. 4. If the Bundys hadn’t made threats, including bodily harm, against the Government in 2012 when they last tried to evict the cattle, I highly doubt that the government would have shown up with the 200 armed forces they came with.

My questions are: What will the Bundys and their protesters do now? File a motion in Federal Court stoping the eviction? Probably not. Will the government now stand down and allow Bundy to continue grazing rent free? Nope. Not gonna happen. Will other cattlemen take to this form of vigilante justice and will the West be Wild again? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

I guess I’m still not taking sides in this case. In my heart, it’s wrong all the way around. Another case of complicated facts, poor response and knee jerk reaction. I wish more people were like the Chiltons and others who have taken the high road to beat the Government at their own game. Hopefully the Bundys will take this opportunity to band together with other ranchers who are having their grazing rights diminished in the name of endangered species. Maybe they can file a class action suit demanding that the BLM be dissolved and the rights be turned over to respective states as Bundy says is his ultimate goal.

For now, I’ll continue to uncomfortably follow this story and hope that no one or no more cattle are hurt in the process. Nothing good is coming from this debacle and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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Frankenberries

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I have a fantastic mix of friends. All walks of life, all religions, all education levels, from cities across the US and definitely working in a vast array of professions.  A dear friend from the Great Northwest posted a picture on Facebook, of what she described as Frankenfood, expressing her concerns that they may be GMO and longing for the “the deliciously imperfect, knobby, gnarly, fun shaped strawberries I grew up with that smelled so, so good?”  My friend, Laurel, went on to say that she had purchased the berries from a “high brow organic co-op” and I gleaned from her comments that she had far higher expectations for her produce from such an esteemed establishment.

This post and our ensuing exchange made me think long and hard about food labeling in general.  For the last few years, we as an Ag Community have been working to educate the consumers of our products loudly stating that one of the major problems facing Ag is the uneducated consumer.   As a member of CWA, we spend time educating children and adults as part of our three armed approach to outreach.  It now seems contradictory to me when I hear an outcry from producers that don’t want to be forced (albeit by regulation) to label our products.

A US Appellate Court just handed down a ruling stating that packaged meat should include source information including the country of origin.  What if consumers knew that the relatively cheap package of preformed, frozen hamburger patties weren’t American Beef but that they could find American Beef in the fresh meat section instead?  What if consumers knew that there are only eight Genetically Modified Organisms currently in agriculture production?  Would our transparency build a trust with our consumers?  Would preference win over price?  Would the Ag community get paid a higher premium for American made products? Could transparency be a win-win??

The rising popularity of Farmers Markets is one indication that the consumer we label as uneducated really does care about where their food comes from. 

If we printed on Laurel’s package of Frankenberries, NON GMO, CALIFORNIA GROWN, PICKED ON APRIL 4TH, 2014, I believe she would have felt more comfortable rather than resorting to Facebook with concerns about what she was consuming.

My friend Laurel is smart.  She’s originally a California girl but moved to the Seattle area where she is now a renowned wedding photographer.  She’s educated. She has a valid opinion about what she consumes as part of her diet and I believe she should!  As members of the Ag community, we have the privilege of daily chatter involving different farming methods, regulations governing those methods, products and production practices for those different methods.  Do we have the right to deny the same information to the consumers we claim are uneducated?

Sometimes the first step toward common ground is the hardest. Sometimes that step is the most fruitful.

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