Friday, October 28, 2011

Romney 'a recidivist reviser of his principles'

Is George Will still writing columns? Anyway, he's about to blast Mitt Romney in his Sunday message, reports Katrina Trinko at NRO's The Corner.

A snippet:

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from ‘data’ … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

'Is Rick Perry wasting our time?'

The blog RedState has been probably the most virulently anti-Mitt Romney and pro-Rick Perry of all the conservative media, yet even its chief contributor, Erick Erickson, is exasperated over the Perry campaign's missteps.

He writes:

Is Rick Perry wasting our time? He came out with a great energy plan. He came out with an amazing economic plan. But I get the sense the campaign is in denial. Word is leaking that he may start skipping debates.

I don’t blame anyone for skipping some of the debates. There are far too many and they do little more than provoke fights without substantive conversations on the issues. I’m cool with any of the candidates skipping debates. But the Heritage/AEI debate on Foreign Policy must be non-negotiable for all the candidates. They need to be there and answer these questions. Foreign policy is the one area in the constitution the President largely has unrestricted power. We need to know what they would do.

I don’t think the Perry campaign really understands just how uninspired Rick Perry has left his own base of supporters, let alone the existing undecideds. To his credit though, he gave an entire speech this week and did not mention Texas. He’s learning. I don’t think he is wasting our time. But he needs to shore up his base of support quickly — probably more quickly than his campaign realizes.

In the meantime, the Romney camp is still targeting the Perry camp, largely because they don’t see the Cain camp as viable. The Cain camp continues building steam. Ron Paul is encountering his own version of Romney’s problem, and sneaking up from the rear is a guy most of us had written off.

He is of course referring to Newt Gingrich, whose polling is on the rise.

It all goes to show how much of an impact personality really does have on these political races. By all accounts, Perry's views are much more in line with the average Republican's than are those of Romney, who has this nasty habit of needlessly antagonizing the base.

But many voters will be darned if they nominate another stammering Texan. And say what you want about George W. Bush, but at least he was somewhat likeable. Perry seems to have this penchant for behaving like a jerk.

Farm-City bus tour educates

In the photo, Melissa Macfarlane, manager of the Driscoll's nursery north of Red Bluff, explains the basics of propagating strawberry plants to more than two dozen area residents who are taking a day-long bus tour today of local farms, sponsored by the Tehama County Farm Bureau.

The annual tour is part of Farm-City Week, which aims to teach city dwellers about the agriculture in their area. After the stop at Driscoll's, the tour visited a walnut and plum orchard near Cottonwood and then proceeded to the Shasta Livestock Auction Yard in Cottonwood.

For my story, check back at CapitalPress.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Could Cain, Gingrich pair up?

At least one tea party activist thinks so, according to Chad Groening of the American Family News Network.

As the Iowa caucuses draw closer, a Mitt Romney versus non-Romney dynamic has formed within the GOP race. The former Massachusetts governor has maintained a steady spot in the polls with support of the party establishment, but he has not been able to attract the tea party conservatives, who still believe he is too liberal.

Meanwhile, the tea party movement has yet to settle on a standard-bearer. For a while, it was Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, and more recently, Herman Cain has been the favorite.

Kellen Giuda, founder of the New York City Tea Party and spokesman for TheTeaParty.net, says tea partiers are really starting to talk about a Newt Gingrich/Herman Cain, or a Herman Cain/Newt Gingrich ticket.

"Herman Cain's energy is contagious at this point. He's riding high right now," Giuda notes. "But I think people are really starting to look at Newt Gingrich in terms of he is the most knowledgeable, hands down. He's done everything we need to do before. He's created 11 million jobs. He's balanced the federal budget four times. So people are starting to wake up to that and his new contract."

The benefits of such a pairing would be fairly obvious. For nominee Cain, Gingrich would provide a great deal of policy and Washington gravitas. And a Cain partnership would perhaps make nominee Gingrich look a little less like a Washington insider.

I just think its funny -- and a rather sad state of affairs for the GOP -- that at this stage of the game, the party's strongest supporters feel the need to combine the attributes of different candidates to come up with one they like.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weather is both local and global

Record Searchlight weather guru Scott Mobley provides an excellent explanation of this in his story today, which confirms what National Weather Service experts have been telling me -- namely that we're likely in for a wetter-than-normal winter and a dry spring.

Scott writes:

Climate scientists look at the interaction between La Niña and other long-term, large-scale, less well-known circulation patterns in the atmosphere and the oceans to come up with their winter forecast.

The buildup and disappearance of immense domes of bitterly cold air over the Canadian and Alaskan tundra is perhaps the most powerful of these other influences. Strong upper-level troughs linked to intensely cold air over Hudson Bay often pumps up a ridge over the West Coast that keeps Pacific storms from hitting Northern California and even the Pacific Northwest.

A persistent Hudson Bay low can cancel out La Niña effect favoring above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures across the north state, forecasters said.

Climate scientists also look at recent weather trends to predict whether the coming season will be warmer or cooler than normal in one place or another.

Places like Texas, where soils are already parched, will be even less likely to have rains thanks to feedback between soils and atmosphere. Far northern Alaska is steadily warming thanks to positive feedback with disappearing sea ice, forecasters said.

Scott is a self-taught meteorologist, having learned how to read and interpret charts and reams of technical data to come up with forecasts on his own. Scott sees the north state's next shot at rain as coming around Nov. 4, though the chances don't look strong. For its part, AccuWeather isn't betting on it.

Lawmaker still wants dust legislation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency insists it has no plans to regulate farm dust, but one representative from Washington state still wants to pass a bill to make sure the EPA doesn't change its mind.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), a member of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, advocated for H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, at a subcommittee hearing on the bill today. This bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing stricter farm dust regulations, removing a costly, unnecessary burden on America’s farmers and ranchers.

“At a time when America is suffering from the longest streak of high unemployment since the Great Depression, I cannot understand why this Administration, through the EPA, continues to support environmental regulations that have no scientifically-proven health benefits yet are guaranteed to destroy jobs,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “The EPA’s PM10 standard is one of many examples of the federal government’s bureaucratic overreach and expanding that standard would be devastating to our farms and ranches. In Eastern Washington, whether you’re working the fields, herding cattle, or driving down a dirt road – dust will be kicked up – and that farm dust is a byproduct of American labor, not an air pollutant. That’s why I support the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, which would prevent the EPA from imposing unachievable standards on our rural communities.”

On March 16, 2011, Rep. McMorris Rodgers wrote a letter to EPA Director Lisa Jackson encouraging her not to expand course particle (PM10) regulations on farmers and ranchers.

The Congresswoman spoke about the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act and other House Republican bills to create jobs at today’s Leadership stakeout.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The death of a perfectly good theater

Sorry to see that Prime Cinemas in Anderson is closing. My wife and I have gone down there many times to see a movie. The place is smaller and the theaters more intimate than the big Redding multiplex, and they didn't have the god-awful NBC commercials blasting before the previews began.

I suspect the recent expansion of Movies 10 in Redding had something to do with Prime 11 losing business, but more to the point is what's happening at Movies 8, which has been showing discounted movies since the Movies 10 revamp was complete. We've been going to Movies 8 on many weekends and the crowds for the longest time were small, but lately they've boomed as people around town became aware of the discounts.

However, people yearning for Prime 11's homespun atmosphere apparently can still go to Prime Cinemas in Red Bluff, which has the same owner.

CFBF lauds trade deal signings

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

After nearly five years of advocacy, California farmers and ranchers can expect a long-standing boost in export opportunities after President Obama signed free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama [Friday]. The agreements reduce or eliminate tariffs for many agricultural products, and the California Farm Bureau Federation said that will lead to additional jobs as more California-grown products move to export customers.

"We welcome the president's signature on these long-awaited agreements," California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. "At the same time as they open markets for farmers and ranchers, the trade agreements will create jobs in both rural and urban California. Reducing export barriers will also allow more people in South Korea, Panama and Colombia to benefit from the bounty of California."

The agreements are expected to boost export sales of California farm products by $239 million per year and offer $2.5 billion in additional farm exports for the nation as a whole.

"Removing trade barriers has been a priority for Farm Bureau and our members for years," Wenger said. "Farmers and ranchers have repeatedly reached out to their representatives in support of these free-trade agreements. That hard work by our members and other farm groups has succeeded, and now many more California residents can benefit. Jobs will be created throughout the economy, from the growing and harvesting to the processing and shipping of our state's crops and farm goods."

The agreements will reduce barriers in the three nations for a wide variety of California-grown farm products, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, beef and wine. Wenger noted that growers of some other California crops have expressed concerns about the agreements—including cut-flower growers who have been affected for years by flower imports from Colombia.

"Farm Bureau supports a plan by California flower growers to earn federal funding for a transportation and logistics center that would reduce their shipping costs and help California-grown flowers stay competitive with Colombian imports," Wenger said.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of approximately 76,500 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where to put Occupy Redding

I see in our local paper that Redding's Occupy Wall Street protesters are looking for a place to set up a 24-hour encampment, which gives me a thought.

Last I checked, the Record Searchlight had a vacant field just beyond its north parking lot. They could mow it all out and let the protesters move in. Or they could donate one of their two employee parking lots. Heck, they don't have a need for quite as many parking spaces as they used to, so they probably have the room.

With the protesters on site, the paper could cover them and its reporters wouldn't even have to hop in their cars. They could set up an OccupyCam and live-stream all the public defecations, bong-load parties and anti-Semitic rants on Redding.com. Or come to think of it, if somebody got out of line, the paper could just boot him off the property and replace him with a sign that reads, "This protester was removed from the site," or something like that.

Better yet, the paper could also offer its property to the Tea Parties' Defend Rural America people and, when both groups show up to claim their land, cover the brawl.

Just an idea. (Kidding, of course.)

Klamath the subject of latest podcast

This week's goings-on with regard to the Klamath River dam removal project are among topics discussed in the latest podcast on our flagship blog, Blogriculture. Listen to it here.

From Corning to Yreka




Yesterday I went virtually from one end of the north state to the other, all in an effort to bring you our region's most comprehensive ag coverage. I started in Corning with an interview with Allan Fulton, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor who's working on ways to help farmers make the most out of their irrigation. Then I went to Yreka, where public testimony was being gathered on the proposed removal of four dams from the Klamath River.

In the photos, Fulton discusses the effect of a drip irrigation line on the development of a young Chandler walnut tree; ranchers Jennifer Menke of the Scott Valley and Morellen Baird of Yreka show their opposition to dam removal before the meeting at the fairgrounds; and Erica Terence of the environmental group Klamath Riverkeeper uses a bullhorn to chant, "Un-dam the Klamath! Let the water flow!"

About 250 people crammed into an exhibit hall for the Klamath hearing, one of six being held in various cities to take testimony on the project's EIS and EIR. In many ways, emotions over the project run higher in Siskiyou County than in the Klamath Basin even though the dams in question provide no irrigation water and very little flood control in Siskiyou, at least according to one Department of Fish and Game official. I'll examine why in an article in next week's issue of Capital Press.

You can also look for my Western Innovator piece on Fulton in next week's paper and, of course, at CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bosenko, others to back Siskiyou rally

From event organizer Liz Bowen via Erin Ryan of the Redding Tea Party:

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey will lead a broad panel of county sheriff’s during the Defend Rural America event on Oct. 22 at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds in Yreka, CA. Sheriff Lopey said many sheriffs have found they are facing the same problems of increased unemployment, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence. That trend must be reversed, according to the Sheriff Lopey.

“Regulatory oversight imposed on Siskiyou County residents, including our greatest industry of agriculture, threatens our economy, way of life, social issues and traditions,” explains Lopey. “Other sheriffs in Northern California and Oregon are having similar issues and we have a like-minded approach.”

Admittance to Defend Rural America is free and those who seek solutions to these threats against America’s national treasure of rural agricultural and open-space areas are encouraged to attend. Four groups are organizing Defend Rural America. They are: Siskiyou County Water Users Association, Scott Valley Protect Our Water, Yreka Tea Party and Redding Tea Party.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Commercial building at the fairgrounds with the premier showing of Kirk MacKenzie’s documentary DVD on Siskiyou County and its people. Seating is available for 1,000.

The film will show how the Klamath Basin is an integral part of Siskiyou’s issues, because of the proposal by both federal and state agencies to remove four hydro-electric dams from the Klamath River. A number of groups throughout the region are raising awareness of the potential destruction to fish, wildlife and humans – if the huge dams are demolished. More information can be found at www.defendruralamerica.com

Then the panel of Constitution sheriffs will take the stage expressing their concerns. The audience will then be involved in a Question and Answer period.

Sheriffs who will stand with Lopey are: Grant County, Oregon Sheriff Glenn E. Palmer; Del Norte, CA. Sheriff Dean Wilson; Trinity, CA. Sheriff Bruce Haney; Lassen Dean Growden; Shasta County, CA Sheriff Tom Bosenko and Tehama, CA. Sheriff Dave Hencratt.

Also joining the sheriff panel will be noted property rights attorney Karen Budd-Falon from Wyoming. Karen represents private property owners, ranching and farming organizations, and assists local governments in asserting their rights in federal agency decisions. She has exposed radical environmental groups’ abuse of the legal system.

Constitutional rights are the theme running through Defend Rural America event, which will open its gates at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22nd. Vendors are setting up tables to share information until the Honor Guard brings in the American flag at 6:30 p.m. Donations to pay for the venue will be appreciated.

For more information contact Louise Gliatto at 530-842-5443; Liz Bowen at 530-467-3515 or Erin Ryan at 530-515-7135.
Siskiyou residents will get a chance to sound off at tonight's public hearing on the Klamath River dam removal project, beginning with a 4:30 p.m. question-and-answer session at the fairgrounds in Yreka. I would suspect tonight's will be the most virulent anti-dam removal crowd of the six scheduled public hearings, based on sentiments such as those you'll find here and here.

My story on the first of the six dam-removal hearings is here. Look for my ongoing coverage of these issues in the coming days at CapitalPress.com.

Cantaloupe group: California fruit is safe

From Steve Patricio, chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s release of its Environmental Assessment confirms that the outbreak of listeria associated with Colorado-grown cantaloupes is the result of one grower-shipper not following well-established food safety practices that have been in place throughout the melon industry for many years. In a media briefing, FDA officials stated that “…these factors are not indicative of practices found throughout the cantaloupe industry.”

This FDA report shows that recommended methods and procedures to ensure safety during the washing and packing of cantaloupes in a packinghouse environment were not followed. These food safety procedures are based on 25 years of well-established research. This situation underscores that it is tremendously important that all food producers –no matter where they are or how large or small their farm or packing operation – must be aware of and adhere to proven food safety practices to protect public health and prevent another tragedy from occurring.

The California cantaloupe industry wants to assure consumers that food safety has been and continues to be our first priority. While fresh cantaloupe is produced in many areas of the world, the majority comes from California with over 30 million boxes of cantaloupe grown in the San Joaquin Valley and desert growing regions. Consumers may be reassured to know that California-grown cantaloupes have never been associated with an outbreak of foodborne illness. More importantly, we are continuing work to ensure that this record stands.

Our food safety commitment began 20 years ago with science based research which helped establish standards for safely growing and packing California cantaloupe. Over those years, we engaged scientists and experts in food safety to examine our fields and packing facilities as well as conduct extensive testing and sampling of the growing environment, packing facilities and of the product itself to determine the level of contamination risk.

What we learned is that the dry, arid conditions where cantaloupes are grown in California are not friendly to the growth of pathogens. But we didn’t stop there. We took action to make our production methods even safer.

Our research, along with other research conducted by other scientists, shows that wet or humid growing conditions as well as the use of water in the packing process require additional risk management practices. As a result, the California cantaloupe industry implemented different growing methods designed to keep water away from product growing in the field. We also developed alternative methods for packing and cooling our product to reduce and eliminate the use of water. In several cases, what were once believed to be state-of-the art systems for packing and cooling cantaloupes were removed and replaced because of the research findings.

With this recent Colorado outbreak, the California cantaloupe industry is committed to working even harder to improve the safety of our product throughout all growing regions both domestically and internationally. In light of the FDA findings, it is clear that more outreach can be done to further educate and remind farmers and food safety consultants about the importance of diligently following proper food safety practices. California producers are also committed to funding even more research wherever it is needed to improve safety as well as share our California industry-funded research results with anyone who is interested.

Our farmers, packers and shippers want to extend our sympathies to all the victims of this outbreak and their families. These families will be in our thoughts constantly as we take steps to ensure this never happens again. For its part, the California cantaloupe industry is committed to continuing to put safety as its top priority. We plan to work with the world-wide cantaloupe industry to improve the safety of all cantaloupes. The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and the California Melon Research Board have already committed an additional $200,000 in research funding to the Center for Produce Safety over the next four years specifically earmarked to find new and better ways to improve the safety of melons. The California cantaloupe industry has also begun an immediate review of our internal practices so we can further assure our customers that our cantaloupes are safe.

As we reported this week, the sales of California cantaloupes have plummeted even though

The farm goes to San Francisco

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

Cows, sheep and turkeys will visit elementary schools in San Francisco on Thursday. During Farm Day programs at 25 schools, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom will teach 10-thousand schoolchildren about the bounty California farms and ranches provide. Students will have hands-on time with livestock, and will also learn about healthy nutrition and how to plant gardens.

Of course we all know there are plenty of turkeys in San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Now Redding's Big Baby wants an apology

Reports the Washington Times:

The California man who lives part of his life as an “adult baby” and collects Social Security disability payments says the federal agency has cleared him of wrongdoing and will continue sending checks.

Stanley Thornton Jr. now wants an apology from Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who called for the benefit review because the investigation disrupted the final months of life for his roommate Sandra Dias, who playacted as his mother, spoon-feeding him and helping him into his baby clothes until her death in July.

“We recently reviewed the evidence in your Social Security disability claim and find that your disability is continuing,” the agency said in an August letter that Mr. Thornton posted on the website he maintains to document his adult baby lifestyle. [...]

John Hart, a spokesman for Mr. Coburn, said Tuesday that the senator, who is also a medical doctor, is still puzzled by how “a grown man who is able to design and build adult-sized baby furniture is eligible for disability benefits.”

“Yet, the problem is not with Mr. Thornton, per se, but with the politicians and bureaucrats who have coddled him,” Mr. Hart said. “Disability fraud effectively steals from those who are truly disabled, while weakening the economy for everyone."

Klamath dam removal: two views

video
video
In the videos, Tom Mallams, a hay farmer from Beatty, Ore., talks about the problems he sees with the science behind the environmental documents for the Klamath River dam removal and basin restoration project, and Becky Hyde, a cattle rancher also from Beatty, tells why she supports the project.

I interviewed both during demonstrations before last night's public hearing on the dam removals in Klamath Falls. My story on the meeting is here.

Competing rallies at Klamath hearing


In the photos, Chuck Woodward, Belinda Scales, Becky Hyde and Steve Kandra check out new T-shirts urging support for the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement; and Tom Mallams holds a sign and balloon encouraging authorities to stop the dam removal project.

The demonstrations were held yesterday within a few feet from eath other near the entrance to a meeting hall at the Klamath County Fairgrounds in Klamath Falls, Ore., where a public hearing was held on the dam removals' EIR and EIS.

More than 200 people attended the meeting, the first of six scheduled public hearings this week and next in various cities. A meeting for Yreka is scheduled for Thursday at the fairgrounds, with a question-and-answer session beginning at 4:30 p.m.

About 70 people spoke last night, a majority (but certainly not all) of whom oppose the project. The meeting went well beyond its allotted two hours for public testimony. For my complete coverage, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scam targets carbon monoxide law

From state Sen. Doug LaMalfa:

Several alert constituents have contacted Senator LaMalfa’s offices to question the validity of a letter they have received from the so-called “California Housing and Safety Association.” It solicits payment of $76 and indicates that upon receipt of payment, a state-certified carbon monoxide detector required by law will be mailed to the homeowner. Having researched the organization, Senator LaMalfa’s staff found that NO SUCH ASSOCIATION EXISTS, and HOMEOWNERS SHOULD NOT SEND ANY MONEY.

“My staff went to the address cited in the letter and found only a post office box,” said Senator LaMalfa. “Luckily, the alert owner of the mail box facility had closed the box and is returning any mail received to the senders due to his suspicions. I am grateful to the owners of Downtown Mail and Shipping in Sacramento for their diligent work in protecting citizens from this scam.”

Phone calls made to the fake association are answered by a voice mail system and then promptly disconnected.

“I encourage everyone to be skeptical of unsolicited offers and letters appearing to demand money or personal information,” continued LaMalfa. “My office is here to assist constituents if they have questions or problems with government agencies or possible scams.”

Unfortunately, the content of the letter is partially accurate. The letter cites the passage of SB 183, a bill passed last year that requires that every “dwelling intended for human occupancy that has a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace or an attached garage” have a carbon monoxide detector installed by July 1, 2011. SB 183 was signed into law last year by Governor Schwarzenegger, and the deadline for most homeowners to have a detector installed was, in fact, July 1. The language of the bill indicates that violations for failure to comply are punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each offense.

“I was not serving in the Legislature last year and would have been strongly opposed to this bill,” commented LaMalfa.

Homeowners who would like to purchase a carbon monoxide detector may purchase one at a local retailer for about $20, depending on model.

FTAs to generate $375m annually in West

Groups that market everything from beef to walnuts are hailing the newly approved trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which could generate an estimated $375 million in additional agricultural income each year in the Pacific Northwest and California.

Congress' passage of the deals Oct. 12 paved the way for U.S. agricultural exports to increase by $2.5 billion a year at full implementation, the American Farm Bureau Association asserts.

That includes $239 million a year for exports from California alone, plus $41.8 million annually for Oregon, $52.8 million for Washington and $41.8 million for Idaho, the Farm Bureau predicts.

Increased marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers in the West as a result of the agreements could add as many as 3,375 jobs to the states' economies, including 2,150 jobs in California, according to the AFBF's state-by-state analysis of the deals.

"Overall, there are benefits for all U.S. commodities in these three agreements, particularly from the fact that these agreements weren't about their agricultural products coming into the United States but were about removing barriers for our products going into their markets," said Chris Garza, the AFBF's senior director of congressional relations.

For my full story, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Siskiyou water lawsuit on hold

A judge is considering whether to allow the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau's water lawsuit against a state agency to proceed.

Siskiyou County Superior Court Judge William Davis has until early December to rule on the Department of Fish and Game's demurrer, which is a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff has no basis to sue.

"We're sort of sitting in a holding pattern waiting for that," said Darrin Mercier, the Farm Bureau's attorney and a local rancher.

The suit contends Fish and Game is violating Scott Valley and Shasta Valley landowners' water and property rights by requiring special permits for irrigation. The California Farm Bureau Federation withdrew a similar case earlier this year after failing to get it decoupled from environmental groups' suit against the department.

The DFG's demurrer comes after Siskiyou County Superior Court Commissioner JoAnn Bicego ruled in July that a tribe and environmental groups couldn't intervene on the agency's behalf.

If the demurrer is granted, the Farm Bureau will likely have 30 days to amend its complaint to address the court's concerns, an organization newsletter explained.

Occupying some perspective

Kurt Schlichter, a lawyer, an Army veteran and writer based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., does so in a must-read column in the Washington Examiner.

Right now, idealistic young Americans are gathered together to fight injustice and build a better world.

Sure, they're a little dirty, and maybe some of their language is a bit rough, but they've left behind family and friends, as well as the creature comforts the rest of us take for granted, to make a stand for what they believe in.

It's just too bad that today the mainstream media is focusing on the spoiled, incoherent clowns of Occupy Wall Street and ignoring our young fighting men and women.

Schlichter goes on to offer a comparison of the two groups that could fairly be described as devastating to the neo-socialists. A snippet:

On a windy mountaintop in Kunar province, a tired 22-year-old infantryman on patrol rests and shares a swig of warm water with his buddy. In Manhattan, a 22-year-old from Scarsdale shares a bong-load of killer weed with a guy sporting dreadlocks and a Che T-shirt he got at Hot Topic.

Nearby, a young lady whose TA canceled that afternoon's NYU oppression studies seminar so everyone could head to the protest feverishly types away at a screed about the militaristic inhumanity of American capitalism on her new iPad.

In Afghanistan, a young American soldier with a locked and loaded M4 assures a band of nervous Pashtun mothers that her platoon will make sure the Taliban don't come and butcher their daughters for the sin of attending school.

Across Zuccotti Park, a self-described human rights activist with a sociology degree from Yale screams "Fascist!" at the weary NYPD cop who told him to move along and stop blocking the street.

At the same time, a world away, a first-generation Mexican-American medic from Fresno who a year ago was graduating high school ignores the impact of AK-47 bullets all around him as he desperately tries to stop the bleeding from the sucking gunshot wound in his platoon sergeant's chest.


I might add that while all of this is going on, somewhere in the American heartland, a 22-year-old is up at dawn to help his dad gather the season's last cutting of hay. And a grad student at UC-Davis is helping scientists in the entomology department figure out the cause of colony collapse disorder.

My favorite line of all:

Tragically, graduates of Ivy League universities brandishing master's degrees in minority women's studies are not getting jobs that pay enough to service their $150,000 student loans. Who could have seen that coming?


But hey, they're providing a service. They're reminding the rest of the nation how desperate a need there is to drastically reform our education system. And that's just for starters.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kids at center of Orchard Festival



Children's activities were a highlight of Saturday's 14th annual Dairyville Orchard Festival at the Lassen View School near Los Molinos, which also featured some 75 vendor booths featuring walnuts, almonds, olives, prunes, honey and other products of the north state.

In the photos, from the top, Matt Madison, 12, of Red Bluff tries his hand at roping; Desiree George of Fountain, Colo, accompanies her 17-month-old daughter, Gracin, on a pony ride, as Kayla Vanek of the Gerber-based Pony Express guides the horse; and Taylor Deveraux, 8, and Zoey Novo, 5, both of Red Bluff, use painted fruit in a stamp-art project at the Lil' Farmer Corner.

For my complete story, check CapitalPress.com early next week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Walnut harvest resumes after rains



In the photos, Fred Spanfelner, owner of Golden Valley Farms in Dairyville, stands in front of a row of idle trucks that would normally be moving; the last of the day's walnuts are loaded onto a truck for shipping; and walnuts lay on muddy ground in a nearby orchard. The photos were taken Thursday.

As I mentioned earlier this week, last week's rains quickened hull split for mid- and late varieties of walnuts, but Monday's rather significant rainfall knocked most of the nuts to the ground. Crews in some orchards were just starting to get going yesterday to collect all the nuts, then they'll shake the trees again and collect what's left.

For my story on the harvest, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Orchard Festival to celebrate local ag

Julie Zeeb reports in the Red Bluff Daily News:

The 14th annual Dairyville Orchard Festival is just days away with the event set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Lassen View School, 10818 Highway 99E.

"It's an amazing day that showcases our local bounty," said Chairwoman Marcie Skelton.

There will be about 60 craft booths and food vendors along with the community service organizations.

Antelope Creek, Maisie Jane nuts, Burlison Fruit Stands, Lucero Olive Oil and Tehama Angus Ranch are among the local vendors who will be in attendance, she said.

"We try to have a variety of high quality, noncommercially made items," Skelton said.

For more, click here. The event website is here.

For my coverage of Saturday's event, check CapitalPress.com next week.

Herger, ag groups laud trade deals

The George W. Bush-era trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that were finally passed by Congress yesterday couldn't have come soon enough for Rep. Wally Herger and a pair of California farm groups.

From Rep. Herger:
Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA), former Ranking Member of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Trade, delivered the following speech on the House floor in support of passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The agreements will substantially reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers that hold back U.S. products entering these markets, boosting U.S. exports by a projected $13 billion and creating an estimated 250,000 jobs. The free-trade agreement with Korea will expand sales of California-grown fruits, vegetables and other crops. Likewise, the agreement with Colombia will open up new markets to California farmers and ranchers, including those producing livestock, fiber, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits and grains. California dairy farmers, leaders of the national dairy industry, stand to benefit significantly from the agreement with Panama. [...]

“Madam Speaker, the trade agreements before us represent a major opportunity for American small businesses and workers. By leveling the playing field for U.S. goods and services entering Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, these agreements will provide a significant boost to our economy and create an estimated 250,000 new jobs. They are commonsense, win-win agreements for the American people.

“Here's why. Removing tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports means that our U.S. products become more competitive in foreign markets, which in turn generates more sales and more business for our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers. Passing these agreements will mean more jobs, more economic growth, and more opportunities both on and off the farm for the men and women in my northern California congressional district and the rest of our Nation. Perhaps best of all, these trade agreements will provide real, permanent economic stimulus at no cost to the American taxpayers. They represent fundamentally sound economics--getting government-imposed barriers out of the way and letting American business and workers do what they do best.

“As the former ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, I have joined many others in urging support for these agreements. While I believe this week should have come a lot sooner, these are real job bills, and I urge my colleagues to support all three.”
From the California Cattlemen's Association:
After several years of stressing to lawmakers the importance of new trade agreements with some of the world’s largest beef importers, California beef producers are optimistic today as the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) President Kevin Kester, a lifelong rancher from Parkfield, Calif., has been closely following this issue for years and recently returned from a trip to the nation’s capitol where he met with California’s Congressional delegation to encourage them to support the free trade agreements.

Kester called [Wednesday's] vote an important win for California livestock producers.

“Not only is getting these trade agreements passed a win for our nation’s food producers, it is also a win for our nation’s economy,” Kester said. “The agreements ensure access to some of the world’s largest beef-consuming areas, including South Korea, which is vital in helping keep our product moving and in keeping American ranchers in business. I am optimistic that we are reaching the end of this hard-fought battle."

The much-anticipated trade deals will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where it is expected the agreements will soon be passed.

For several years, CCA and its national affiliate, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, have been leaders in advocating for the passage of these crucial trade agreements. Kester said passage of the agreements by the U.S. Senate is one more necessary step to getting the agreements to the president’s desk and signed in order to keep commerce moving.

According to the International Trade Commission, the three agreements, once fully implemented, will create 250,000 jobs. The agreements would level the playing field for U.S. beef by reducing and eliminating import tariffs imposed by Colombia (80 percent), Panama (30 percent) and South Korea (40 percent). Once Congress approves the free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, the U.S. will ultimately have free trade for U.S. beef with approximately two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere.

From the California Walnut Commission:
The California walnut industry welcomed the news of the passage of the United States and South Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which is expected to bring immediate duty reduction to walnuts exported to the Korean market.

The import duty on shelled walnuts will fall from 30% to zero over six years and the in-shell duty to zero over 15 years. Once ratified, an immediate reduction will drop the duties 5%, effectively phasing out the shelled duty in 5 years and the in-shell duty in 14 years. “The agreement as structured will greatly benefit agriculture and specifically California agriculture. We have been engaged in this process since the beginning and appreciate the hard work it has taken to get here,” states John J. (Jack) Gilbert, Chairman of the California Walnut Commission’s (CWC) Issues Management Committee. Jack Mariani, Vice Chairman of the CWC’s Issues Management Committee adds that “Our industry has made significant investments in the South Korean market and we eagerly anticipate the new opportunities for growth the agreement provides.”

Korea is a leading export market for the California walnut industry, accounting for more than 46 million in-shell equivalent pounds annually, valued at over $70 million, contributing to walnuts rank as the 5th leading export from the state. “This agreement will mean that California walnuts are a better value to the end users. Our industry will benefit. The trade as well as consumers have demonstrated their acceptance of our product as a healthful and flavorful addition to their daily diet,” states CWC Executive Director Dennis A. Balint.

In 2010, the Korean market accounted for 4.5% of the industry’s total shipments, with 19.7 million shelled pounds and 853,000 in-shell pounds shipped. Over the last five years the Korean market has grown 39% despite high import duties. This strength in demand and consumption is expected to continue. The duty reduction allows new opportunities for market segment growth for California’s 4,600+ walnut growers and 78 walnut processors.

For more reaction to the agreements, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sierra Pacific reopens sawmill

Dignitaries gathered in Sonora today to celebrate the reopening of a sawmill that had been closed for two years.

The California Farm Bureau Federation reports:

It's a rare occasion in a state where more than 80 sawmills have closed in the last 20 years, due to tightening logging regulations and weakness in the lumber market. Sierra Pacific Industries reopened the Sonora mill this summer, after retooling it to be able to process a wider variety of log sizes.

Defend Rural America rally set

Event co-organizer Liz Bowen writes in a news release (via Erin Ryan of the Redding Tea Party):

After visiting Siskiyou County last summer, noted author Kirk MacKenzie of the book titled “Money|” was shocked at the situation facing rural citizens. He learned their livelihoods, property and families are under attack and time is of the essence.

MacKenzie is from San Francisco. He wanted to share the extent of the threats with his urban friends and groups. In a show of solidarity, he and Debbie Bacigalupi began organizing a bus tour. It has grown and is now an event expecting 1,000 attendees from throughout the West.

On Saturday evening, Oct. 22nd at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds in Yreka, CA, MacKenzie will present a DVD film documentary on Siskiyou County and its people.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to pay for the venue. Registration begins at 3 p.m. when the gates open for networking among early attendees. Groups can purchase a space for just $20 to share their information and connect with like-minded folks. The bus from San Francisco will arrive at 4 p.m. And the event begins with the premier of the documentary at 6:30 p.m.

During five days of “vacation” MacKenzie took 83 clips of video as he interviewed farmers, ranchers, businessmen and leaders who are working to protect their Constitutional rights and property.

“There is a crisis going on here and the rest of the country doesn’t even know about it,” said MacKenzie. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say ‘no more’ to over-government interference.”

After learning about the fraudulent science being used by groups and government agencies to remove four hydro-electric dams in the Klamath River, MacKenzie was mobilized. Siskiyou County Water Users had proposed Measure G on the ballot last November, which won by 79 percent of the voters – not to remove the dams.

But, still the people of Siskiyou County are ignored by state and federal agencies, along with Tribes and Non-Profit Organizations, who claim they have “a stake” in what occurs in Siskiyou. The county has virtually been dismissed by the “stake holder” group, which developed the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement behind closed doors – secretly!

Now, U.S. Dept. of Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is consistently voicing his opinion that the dams should be removed. It is up to Salazar to sign the document that will eventually destroy the four huge dams. MacKenzie hopes he can be swayed from this decision.

The second part of the event will be just as powerful as Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey leads a groups of Constitutional County Sheriff’s in a panel discussion, including Question and Answer period.

For more information contact Louise Gliatto at 530-842-5443; Liz Bowen at 530-467-3515 or Erin Ryan at 530-515-7135. Also check out the website: www.DefendRuralAmerica.com

What the occupiers really want

[This photo was featured on the Drudge Report.]

As long as media at the local and national levels insist on lavishing the Occupy Wall Street protests with glowing coverage, I think we should be clear about what these demonstrators actually want.

Here is one list of demands taken from their website:

Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.

Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

Demand four: Free college education.

Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.

Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

In other words, welcome to the new Soviet Union.

Think about it. If these people ever got half of what they're advocating, they'd occupy America all right -- with a totalitarian government that would leave nary a remnant of anything that resembles individual freedom.

That a group of Americans -- largely made up of college-age folks, at least in the protests in New York -- would openly advocate for this kind of government (even to the point of calling for violence) just shows how far downhill our education system has gone. That one of our two main political parties would embrace this movement shows the shape our country is in politically.

And that we have a media that just does cursory stories about protests without examining the context behind them (and I'm not singling anybody out) only shows where our media is these days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Venue change for Yreka KIamath meeting

From Matthew Baun at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Yreka:

The venue for the Draft EIS/EIR hearing in Yreka on Thursday, Oct. 20 has been changed from the Yreka Community Theatre to the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds, Winema Hall. The fairgrounds are located at 1712 Fairlane Road, Yreka. The change of venue will allow for more space and seating. The meeting will be held at the same date and time -- Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. An open house/presentation on the Draft EIS/EIR will begin at 4:30 PM, followed by formal public comment at 6:00 PM.

October rainfall by the numbers


In the photo, taken yesterday, cattle graze in the rain on the farm at Shasta College.

Here's where selected California cities stand so far this month in terms of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service:

Eureka: 4.19 inches
Redding: 3.05 inches
Red Bluff: 1.77 inches
Marysville-Yuba City: 1.46 inches
Sacramento: 1.33 inches
Modesto: 1 inch
Salinas: 1.44 inches

I've been told this afternoon that while last week's storm did little to walnut orchards except quicken hull split, which is a good thing, yesterday's rather unexpected rain knocked a lot of walnuts to the muddy orchard floors. What a mess.

For my story on the rain's effect on various California crops, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Is your dog like a pig?

A British TV chef, in advocating for a "high-welfare organic puppy farm," apparently sees little difference between the two.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Poll: Feinstein's approval rating plummets

From Caitlin Huey-Burns at RealClearPolitics:

A survey by the California-based Field Poll shows 44 percent of voters don't want to send Feinstein, who was first elected in 1992, back to Washington for a fourth full term, while 41 percent support her re-election. Until now, the poll has never showed the senator's re-election support to be under water.

Over the past 20 years, the Field survey has found Feinstein’s job approval ratings to be consistently positive by comfortable margins. Now, that margin is much narrower: 41 percent approve of the job she is doing in the Senate while 39 percent disapprove. This is Feinstein’s lowest grade in her Washington career, according to the survey. She receives majority approval (60 percent) from her political base, but 21 percent of Democrats disapprove of her job performance. Among non-partisan voters, 40 percent approve while 32 percent disapprove.

As I've written before, a lot could happen between now and Election Day in 2012, and a funny thing could happen on the way to Feinstein's once-considered-inevitable fourth full term.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Look for our new podcast

... about this week's rain in California soon on the Capital Press' flagship blog, Blogriculture.

Here's a transcript of podcast host Will Koenig's interview of me.

Q. What happened in California this week?
California got its first significant rainstorm of the season this week. It dumped more than an inch in many areas between Monday and yesterday. Everything's drying out now but it's cool, and it just reinforces the fact that summer is over. In fact, as I wrote in my story this week, summer seemed to leave us just as quickly as it arrived in June, when it rained early that month and then suddenly got hot.

Q. How have crops and harvests been affected?
Well, I'm working on a story for the next issue of Capital Press that will try to ferret that out. We know that raisins were hammred, as nearly half of the raisin crop was soaked as it dried in the fields. Wine grapes apparently didn't suffer as badly; in fact the rain only served to wash off the dust.
The fortunate thing is the rain had been expected for a few days, so ranchers with permanent pastures were able to scramble to get their last cutting of hay before the rain came, and nut growers could work longer shifts to get their late varieties off the trees.

Q. What's in store weather-wise for the next couple of weeks?
At this time of year, predicting the weather can be especially tough. The Climate Prediction Center envisions a higher-than-normal chance of rain and high-elevation snow in the next month and beyond, but the long-range forecasts I've checked say it'll be mostly sunny at least in the next two weeks.
The thing is, we're in our second year of La Nina, which isa weather pattern that pushes storms toward the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. In a second straight La Niña year, winter tends to peak from December into February and then conditions become drier.

Q. How are farmers reacting to the weather?
Most of them take these sorts of things in stride, and it could be worse. We could be in the Midwest, where they're trying to harvest crops amid hot and dry conditions that have sparked fires across thousands of acres of pasture and cropland.

For ongoing weather coverage, check CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CCA chief: Tie ethanol to corn supply

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) President Kevin Kester, a stocker and cow-calf producer from Parkfield, Calif., spoke at a Washington, D.C., press conference today as several members of Congress, led by U.S. Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Costa (D-CA), introduced the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Flexibility Act of 2011, which will tie the amount of corn ethanol production required under the RFS to U.S. corn supplies.

Livestock producers have long been concerned that current U.S. renewable fuels policies are artificially manipulating corn prices and putting a strain on corn supplies. Today, groups like CCA are pleased that lawmakers have heeded those concerns.

According to Reps. Goodlatte and Costa, “the federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry has quite frankly created a domino effect that is hurting consumers. It is expected that this year about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop will used for ethanol production. Our legislation will alter the RFS to give relief to our livestock and food producers and consumers of these products. This is a commonsense solution to make sure that we have enough corn supplies to meet all of our demands.”

During the press conference, Kester said, “Cattlemen are not opposed to ethanol and we’re not looking for cheap corn. We simply want the federal government to get out of the marketplace and allow the market to work. USDA has projected this year’s corn crop will be more than 400 million bushels smaller than last year. Supplies are already tight due to drought, floods and rising demand, driven partially by the mandate. A smaller corn crop will put even further strain on corn stocks. It’s time to add a layer of commonsense to our nation’s renewable fuels policy. We commend Congressmen Goodlatte and Costa for their leadership on this issue and we urge all members of Congress to support this bill.”

During a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, Steve Meyer, Ph.D., president of Paragon Economics, a livestock and grain marketing and economic advisory company in Adel, Iowa, said on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), that since 2004, the last year before the RFS was implemented, corn used for ethanol production increased from nearly 1.4 billion bushels to an estimated 5 billion bushels in 2010-2011, a 382 percent increase. However, he noted corn production has only increased by 5.4 percent over that same time period. Meyer said in his opinion, these differing growth rates and subsequent unprecedented low carryover stocks were primarily caused by ethanol subsidies and guaranteed market.

Specifically, this legislation will set up a process to require the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to review twice yearly the USDA report on the current crop year’s ratio of U.S. corn stocks-to-use in making a determination on the RFS. In years with tight stocks-to-use ratios, a reduction to the RFS could be made.

Monday, October 3, 2011