Legislature Ponders Fix for Kansas Supreme Court Threat to AMAs

For those of you who are Kansas residents or operate elsewhere but feed cattle in Kansas, this information is critical for you.  A bill is ready for a conference vote very soon in the Kansas legislature that could bolster your ability to participate in branded beef programs and alliances.  We received the information below plus response options from the Kansas Livestock Association Wednesday morning, April 3:

Please contact your [Kansas] Senator and Representative and ask for a yes vote on the SB 124 Conference Report.

The Kansas Legislature likely will vote on the conference report for SB 124 in the next 24 hours. SB 124 reforms the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act to correct a 2012 Kansas Supreme Court decision. The decision jeopardizes the legality of alternative marketing arrangements and forward contracts used by beef industry participants.

Click on the link below to go to the KLA Capwiz site and submit your request.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you would prefer to call your legislator, you can find phone numbers at www.kslegislature.org or call the KLA office (785-273-5115) and we’ll help you.

Thanks for your help.

http://capwiz.com/beefusa/ks/home/

 

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Published in: on April 3, 2013 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  

U.S. Government Continues Its War on Beef Industry Trade

Like a bunch of lawyers rejiggering rules for Monopoly with total disregard for real world impacts on real businesses, at first glance it looks like the U.S. government’s response to the WTO ruling on mCOOL is just a costly farce.  Rather than fix or remove the legislation that was declared illegal under the WTO rules and which we warned was expensive, onerous, unnecessary, little wanted by consumers and truly a trade barrier damaging to American consumers, the government is playing with the rules on our side of the border.  The proposed rules would ram more segregation, more labeling, more expense and more confusion on American meat producers and consumers.

More details later but it appears at first glance like the government has taken a bad situation and figured out how to make it worse.

Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse: Gun Hysteria Gone Mad

With all the important stuff that has piled up from beef industry meetings and events through January and February on top of Washington’s stampede to mostly nowhere, we guess it takes absolute idiocy to break through the logjam.  We’ll deal with mCOOL and Endangered Species later today but first, the real news of the weekend.

Fans of Sports Illustrated are familiar with a feature they’ve run for years called “This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse,” featuring some really outlandish statement by an athlete or some stupid administrative move by a team or the NCAA.  Well, this week’s sign for society in general shows how hysterical non-gun owners — our school system in particular — have gotten.  This is why we have warned our readers, despite assurances from some in Congress that major gun control legislation will go nowhere, that this is an issue more about emotional instability than facts.  Here in Colorado, we are being stampeded by bill after bill of gun legislation, including things impossible to enforce, like background checks on private gun sales.

We must warn you before you read this.  This is not a joke.  Legislation has already been introduced to prevent a reocurrence in the Maryland legislature.

In a Maryland school, a second grader has been suspended for two days for possession of a firearm in class  —  a handgun nibbled out of the Pop Tart in his lunch!  It seems the kid had been trying to nibble it into the shape of a mountain but that wasn’t working, according to the Daily Caller.  When he realized it was looking a bit like a handgun, his father said he held it up and said, “Bang, bang,” (The Blaze, 03/10/13).

The whole incident was so horrific, other kids in the class have been offered trauma counseling.

Personally, it would appear some teachers and administrators need counseling or less traumatic jobs than teaching simple reality to second graders.  George Will brought up Michelle Obama and Michael Bloomberg in his discussion of this ridiculous incident.  We suppose we can expect moves from both to ban Pop Tarts on public school premises on Double Whammy grounds: nutrition they don’t like and dangerous weapons possession.  Will noted that a pastor in St. Louis is working on a program to buy back toy guns and swords from children there.  Mark Steyn, in for Rush on Monday, reported another kid’s cupcakes were sent home from school because they had little plastic soldiers on top of them.

Somehow, a society and government that sees no danger in declared debt and off-budget debt that threatens to drown the entire planet, has a tidal wave of people literally scared witless at the sight of a gun or gun-like object, even when it’s not pointing at anything.  Personally, we’ve no wish to be looking down the barrel of a real 12-gauge pointed at us.  But there is a lot of security and safety-like feelings associated with having firearms to prevent something like that happening…like having my own 12-gauge or 30-30 or other means of dissuasion or defense.

We cannot explain why some people get full out, eyeball-rolling hysterical at the mere shape of a gun.  But even if that emotional irrationality is the basis for trying to make sure only criminals have guns and the rest of us get killed, maimed, violated or merely robbed before law enforcement can arrive, rational segments of society have to fend off this wave of hysteria.  If what these unstable creatures want comes to pass, law enforcement will have to save money by cutting back on too-late patrols so they can beef up their after-the-fact homicide investigation divisions and hire lots more coroners.

Today’s modern American citizens have never had to live anywhere in a society where citizens don’t have guns but only criminals do.  They do not really understand the safety inherent through the deterrent effects of gun possession by citizens.  It’s just always been there and they don’t realize the calamity that would occur in society if it were removed.  But they are hell bent on us finding out.

Five thousand years of supposedly civilizing trends in society, some education and deductive reasoning skills — and we are reduced to hysteria over Pop Tarts.  A sign of the apocalypse?

Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Checkoff Lawsuit Hits Bump In Road

The overwhelming majority of the beef industry was not happy when the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) announced it was going to sue every organization connected with the national beef checkoff, in an attempt to shut it down.  Most were even more shocked to find out that the Humane Society for the United States (HSUS) had helped do the legal research and analysis for OCM to help them evaluate a potential suit.

OCM had prevailed upon a law firm to take up the case for them on a pro bono basis and they actually finalized the complaint and filed it in August.  When the suit was actually filed, Mike Callicrate was listed as the plaintiff.

For a time, the proceedings were put on hold while the parties waited for the USDA Inspector General’s report to, perhaps, shed some light on issues involved.

The help for the OCM/Callicrate effort had been proffered by the Kansas City office of the law firm.  However, subsequent to the filing, the law firm discovered it had a conflict with another case for another client.  Regardless of discussions with the client, Mike Callicrate, who objected to their withdrawal from the case, the firm requested the district court in Kansas allow them to withdraw as counsel.  Callicrate filed an objection with the court, asking it to refuse to allow counsel to withdraw.

The court has now granted counsel’s request and Callicrate is without legal representation.  His motion stated that the withdrawal of this legal firm would, “make it impossible for me to continue this case.”  Whether that will remain so or whether Callicrate will find legal help elsewhere is the next question.

Published in: on January 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Election Notes

Federal Agencies Holding Back Flood

Several times in recent months federal agencies, especially the EPA, have announced delays in proposed regulations.  It would be hard not to suspect there were political motivations in doing so.  Needing all the votes they could get, it behooved agencies not to further enrage groups like producers of energy, food and electricity or the workers who create those things.

But talk show host Mark Levin has really put a point on it.  Back in August, his Landmark Legal Foundation filed suit to try to force the EPA to reveal just how big a tidal wave of regulations it was holding back until after the election.  It also asked for expedited treatment of the request because of the short time frame until an election on which the information could have a bearing.

To no one’s shock, the EPA has not responded with information.  Part of Levin’s contention is that the EPA has habitually ignored Constitutional limitations and exceeded its authority.  Later filings noted that in a related case, EPA was held in contempt for violating a court order, erasing computer hard drives and backup tapes that could have contained related information.

At the recent North American Meat Association convention, Washington political observers indicated other federal agencies, including USDA and FDA, appeared to be pulling the same trick.  A whole raft of federal regulations is expected right after the election if the president is reelected.  But a veritable deluge would come if the president is defeated and it could be expected agency power could be reined in.

Barone Provides Perspective on Polls

Michael Barone, the election expert even Karl Rove willingly plays second fiddle to, provided some interesting commentary on the poll data we’re seeing in this election cycle.

Amid new polls by National Public Radio and CBS/N.Y. Times both indicating Mitt Romney has a 12-point lead over President Obama among independent voters, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Barone why this kind of data doesn’t seem to be reflected in swing state polls(11/01/12).

Barone explained that pollsters are struggling to adapt to new conditions.  They are operating under polling theory developed when Americans had a land line phone and answered it when it rang.  Now, government statistics show one-third of households are cell-phone only households, with a major effect on polling normally conducted primarily on the telephone.

Barone suspects pollsters are operating with a “loose screen” when qualifying voters.  That means when asking registered voters screening questions designed to find out whether they were likely voters — the subset which is a more accurate indicator group of election results — Barone thinks the questions are designed to make sure too many don’t get screened out.  The need for total survey numbers to validate polls is too urgent to turn many potential respondents away.  But the accuracy of the results may suffer from less stringent screening.

Barone also noted absentee requests and absentee votes by party have drastically shifted in Ohio, for example, as one of the indicators political observers are using to read shifting conditions.  He also said virtually all data has shown the enthusiasm among Republican voters is significantly higher than Democrats this year.  He added that there also is no evidence that if President Obama were to win, he would win by the margin he enjoyed in 2008.

Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm  Comments (1)  

Japan’s Process for Changing Beef Rules Is Grinding On

While both the USMEF and NCBA have said encouraging things this year regarding the possibility of Japan’s beef import regulations joining the international standard of cattle up to 30 months of age, published reports from Japan today indicated official progress.

The wheels of progress grind exceedingly slow, however.  Last December, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in Japan requested an assessment of imported beef safety and proposed raising the age limit from 20 to 30 months, according to The Japan Times (“Beef Import Rules May Be Eased Next Year,” Sept. 5, 2012.)  Since that time, a 13-member panel of experts — part of the Food Safety Commission — has been studying the issue.  They have “agreed to compile a report that would allow the regulations” to be amended.

The Food Safety Commission will “canvass public opinions” regarding the proposal for about a month before officially reporting recommendations to the Health, Labor and
Welfare Ministry.  No one has yet commented on the tenor of expected public comment.

It is uncertain exactly when the new rules would go into effect.  The Japan Times estimated early next year, while an AP story indicated late in 2012 is possible.  The rule adjustments would affect beef from the U.S., Canada, France and the Netherlands.

Published in: on September 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Catching Up on the Flow of Events

We’re checking into reports that a certain tick, nicknamed the Lone Star tick because of a white mark on its back, may be the cause of sudden meat allergies.  Naturally, ABC jumped on the story very early.  You won’t believe their spin on it.  But you will want to know about this, as this tick is prevalent in the southern part of the country and we can foresee some concern among ranchers who have wildlife hunting operations.  The last thing one wants is to go on a great hunting expedition, celebrate with a big steak at the hunting lodge and then go into severe allergic reaction a few hours later because of a tick bite.  Several hundred people have reported occurrences and this is the first scientific information regarding the cause.

R-CALF has been parading former GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler around the northern plains, having him tell his version of why the regressive, destructive and legal-friendly proposed GIPSA Rule stalled.  What is his story?  We’ll have some answers in our e-newsletter, the AFF Sentinel, in coming days.  Sen. Grassley of Iowa wanted to attach an amendment prohibiting packer ownership of livestock in the Senate Ag Committee version of the bill but he didn’t have but a few votes and it did not happen.  The Senate version was amended and passed this week.  The House is planning to take it up in mid-July.  More Farm Bill info on the way.

Of course, the coming week could be one of the most exciting in history, as it could mark the high tide of big government in America.  We’ve heard at least one pundit refer to it as the Gettysburg of the leftist movement, the high watermark and start of a receding tide of government interference in the marketplace and our personal lives.  Nothing has more symbolized overbearing government — in fact was the catalyst for many folks joining the Tea Party movement — than the Obamacare law.  That decision by the Supreme Court is widely expected this week.

In addition, just one part of the administration’s effort to slap down state governments’ attempt to serve their citizens is also due a reading from the Supreme Court.  Several states have been sued or received orders trying to stop efforts to properly determine the identity or the alive-or-dead status of voters.  This week will determine whether a state can require its law enforcement officers to uphold state law concurrent with federal law, in the case of Arizona’s government trying to serve its border citizens so abandoned and harassed by the federal government.

Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

New York Times: Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?

We’re not sure why they are doing it now — after all, when it comes to animal agriculture the New York Times has assuredly earned their anti-meat industry stripes — but they’ve decided to run an essay contest on, “…whether it is right to eat animals in the first place…,” 600 words, due by April 8, e-mailed to, get this, ethicist@nytimes.com.

Okay…who knew the New York Times had an ethicist?  Not that we question their need for one.  After all, about the only time we can recall paying much attention to the Times was when they had to fire that reporter whom they finally discovered was not reporting but for years was making up stories as he went along.  Then they avidly followed Michael Pollan’s attempts to smear every farmer and rancher who operated on more than a few dozen acres and utilized more technology than a pitchfork.  Ethics?  What ethics?  What did they run to tell the other side of Pollan’s antics?

In fact, we might begin our argument with the position that their assumptions are false to begin with.  Eating meat is not a question that has anything to do with ethics.  Proper care and husbandry of animals has to do with ethics.  What you eat for dinner does not — unless you really are a cannibal.  The very fact that those who believe in vegetarianism have to roam far afield to environmental, nutrition, legal and earth karma notions (mostly based on fallacies or emotional turmoil) to attempt to justify their positions, is illustrative of the difficulties in fighting nature’s way.

We’ll help you out as you begin pondering your essay.  The dictionary refers to ethics as dealing with, “moral principles,” “that branch of philosophy dealing with values,”  and dealing with right and wrong.  It is part of the vegetarian’s strategy to pose meat-eating as a moral issue when we believe it is not at all.  In fact, it is somewhat ironic that the strata of society which often casts aspersions at Christian religions, indeed, at most religions, regards most questions of morality short of murder as grey areas and cringes at words like right and wrong or good and evil, should trot out morality and ethics as having a bearing on eating meat.

We also wonder what the Times editors read.  They mention animal activists like Peter Singer and another vegetarian book immediately and claim vegetarians have “dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating” but then opine that, “those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say.”  We’ve had plenty to say, it just hasn’t been printed in the Times.  And, of course, it is revealing that the Times and their “ethicist” quickly cite HSUS’ Wayne Pacelle’s philosophy about people making an ethical decision whenever they eat . 

Anyway, just so you know what the Times is doing — even if you’re not sure what they have up their sleeves — here’s your chance to ponder and write.

Click here to see New York Times story.

Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Congress At Work

Like a bunch of college kids putting off what everyone knows they are supposed to do, Congress is just now beginning the serious parrying and thrusting over budget issues with Christmas break looming.  Some folks like the idea of a split Congress, not minding the standoffs that keep things from advancing.  Politicians like Harry Reid don’t like it when he can’t ram through the things he wants to pass.  He rails about “partisanship” and “politics” when it blocks his legislation.  Of course, Harry’s idea of a compromise is typical of the left: compromise is when you give up what you want so that I can have what I want.  That’s why compromise is a dirty word to many conservatives.

 As for me, this year was always likely to be a year in which the best we could hope for – we being those who prefer the free market, limited government and a lower, revised tax structure – was delaying actions, much like a rear guard fighting off an advancing enemy while the rest of the army escaped to regroup.  In this case, the rest of the “army” is our economy, our country and our Constitution.  Much like we talked about in 2009-2010, the Party of No is the best answer to many of the ideas hatched in Congress in recent years.  It is a badge of honor.

 So how is the Christmas fight shaping up?

 As you’re probably aware, the two-percentage point Social Security payroll tax holiday expires at the end of the year.  So also do unemployment benefits for some folks who are reaching the end of their 99-week helping hand.  Congress has never solved its “doc fix” issue, so each year it has to renew a temporary extension or all the doctors providing care under Medicare or their reimbursement drops 27 percent next year.  All of these items are really just temporary pain medications, waiting for the physician to fix the economy and our health care problems.  Most Democrats and most Republicans – although somewhat reluctantly – would go along with these Band-Aids. 

 Of course, the Democrats have proven experts at spending – along with way too many Republicans – but they want to cover their spending by raising taxes on the “rich,” which is shaping up to be anybody who makes anything more than a decent water-treading wage.  The Democrats never talk about paying for any of their spending.  They only bring up paying when it comes to tax cuts they believe we cannot and should not afford.

 The Republicans had found other places to cut spending in order to cover the costs of things like extended unemployment benefits, many of them ideas Obama and the Democrats had advanced in precious discussion.  But as has been the case, when it comes to actually cutting spending, the Democrats refuse.

 The Republicans at least have taken note of the outrageous way the Obama administration has handled the Keystone XL pipeline affair and tied it up in the package to force Obama and the left to fish or cut bait on the pipeline.  It is incredible to what lengths this administration will go to further its environmental religion, no matter what the cost to our country, its economy and jobs.  I’m only surprised Obama didn’t send someone to South Africa to help craft and sign us on to a continuation of the Kyoto treaty.  Copenhagen and the global warming scandals seem to have taught the Obama administration nothing except they have to try harder domestically.

 I know some folks in Nebraska have some concerns about the pipeline route and the Sand Hills.  I understand the importance of the Ogallala aquifer.  I also know it varies in distance from surface to aquifer from hundreds of feet to bubbling out of the ground.  Keystone has offered to alter the route to avoid the Sand Hills and that should be allowed without another year or two of environmental “studies.”  They already have a pipeline through Nebraska that avoids the Sand Hills.

 The Senate has already torpedoed versions of balanced budget bills crafted from each party.  Noises coming out of Washington on Thursday made it sound like they were close to some deal on the “payroll deductions” bill.  Don’t hold your breath.  They also haven’t forged a budget deal to fund the government beyond Friday night – yes, Dec. 16, 2011 and they have had months to work on that.  After all, the Senate – supposedly chock full of the nation’s greatest statesmen – has not passed a budget in over 900 days.  The 1,200-page omnibus spending bill is rumored to arrive on Congressmen’s desks Thursday night for a Friday vote.  Sound familiar?

 A half-dozen government agencies have had their budgets passed and would not have to shut down.  Agriculture, for example, would continue operating.

 If you believe the pipeline will create lots of new jobs and bring oil from our friends in Canada a lot cheaper than floating it from the Middle East, now would be the time to contact your senator.  The enviros have talked about some spills the pipeline company who would be building the Keystone XL has had on other pipelines.  What you have to research is that the oil from all the spills would fit in a couple 5-gallon buckets.  That’s how inane our nation’s energy policy has become.  Forego 5-10,000 construction jobs and tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs and a flow of oil to push energy our gas and diesel prices down on the green altar of “sacrifice” and higher costs and a weakened economy.

 At best, Obama’s call to delay the pipeline at least another year is like the Free Trade Agreements in which he willing gave up hundreds of millions of dollars to agriculture and manufacturing, tax revenue to the government and jobs to thousands of Americans on Big Labor’s altar for three years, only to cave in to election pressures later.  The money and the jobs can never be gotten back.  So it is with this pipeline.  So it is with the mCOOL law that everyone knows will have to be repealed or hundreds of millions in penalties paid, after the WTO ruled against the U.S.  But the money to the livestock meat production chain is gone forever.  That’s the best spin.  I can’t even tell you what the worst-case scenario of what Obama is trying to do.  It is horrible to contemplate.

 Don’t forget the final debate before primary voting begins is tonight, Thursday at 9:00 EST on the Fox News Channel.

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dangerous or Fantastic New Trend or Overload?

In a move described differently depending on whose ox is being gored, the EPA announced late last week that it will delay the release of new proposed restrictions on greenhouse gases affecting electicity-generating power plants, restrictions that would drive up the cost of electricity.

Coming on the heels of the “ozone rule” delay noted in our last post, the delay has enviromental zealots seeing a “dangerous trend” and decrying pressure from “antienvironmentalists,” (“EPA Again Delays Greenhouse-Gas Rule,” Wall Street Journal, 09/15/11).

Did you get that?  If you think it is neither wise nor necessary to keep cranking down restrictions regarding clean air and water until they make production, power and breathing neither practical or affordable, you are an “antienvironmentalist.”  Conservatives — cattlemen among them — are often heard reminding people that no one is against clean air and clean water.  But the envirozealots don’t buy it.  Oppose their extreme views and you are an “antienvironmentalist.

We see the delay as evidence that pressure from business and industry, from electrical power generators and purveyors of common sense (voters) is at last having some impact on the White House and government agencies.  Activists claim that “political” pressure is partially responsible and that is a trend that they consider dangerous.  Of course, “political” means having to do with voters and elections  and the activists certainly don’t want that.  Elitist envirozealots — believers in the manmade global warming/climate change religion — want EPA actions limited to their far reaching imaginations, their lawsuits and deals made by courts with them, certainly not with average Joe voters.  Voters might object to paying ruinous prices for electricity or fuel or food caused by overzealous regulations. 

Even the New York Times called the delay a “tacit admission that the regulations pose political, economic and technical challenges that cannot be addressed on the aggressive timetable that the agency set for itself early in the Obama administration,” (“EPA Plans Delay of Rule on Emissions,” 09/13/11).  One wonders exactly what the Times means in its camouflaged language — “economic challenges” — posed by the rules.  Does that mean the rules will cost consumers a bundle and we should ask them first?  Or does it mean — as other rules and legislation have been handled by the Obama administration — that they need to slip these things in before consumers/voters realize what’s going on?

The activists and even some attorneys for the “other side” claim another part of the problem is that EPA has just bit off more than it can chew.  This delay was announced by EPA’s Lisa Jackson, not imposed by the President.  So some say EPA is working on so many regulations it can’t even meet its own deadlines.  Given that various sources point to EPA having nearly 16,000 to 18,000 employees beavering away, that should scare the average producer or taxpayer to death.

One attorney noted that the greenhouse gas rule would only force expensive modifications to existing coal fired power plants.  The upcoming “mercury rule” would likely have a bigger impact, expected to force the shutdown of older coal-fired plants totally, according to Jeffery Holmstead, an attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani and former EPA official (“EPA Delays Its Greenhouse-Gas Rules,” Washington Post, 09/15/11.)  Yes, Washington can contemplate even worse things yet to come.

Whether this is a trend that can be continued or just a couple of lucky breaks remains to be seen.  But it does offer agriculture and business some hope that political pressure can have some impact on the political left and the activists who would prefer no industry and no affordable food to get that last little microparticle of pollution out of everything on, above or below earth.

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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