Thursday, January 31, 2013

Agenda 21 central in Plumas planning debate

Rural residents' consternation over the United Nations' Agenda 21 has become an issue in Plumas County as officials there are updating their general plan.

My good friend and former colleague Debra Moore reports in the Feather River Bulletin:
About 60 people packed the small conference room at the planning department with most standing, and some spilling into the hallway.

Their spokeswoman, Carol Viscarra, gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the group’s concerns and highlighting why the new general plan is Agenda 21 in disguise. [...]

Explaining that she was not a political activist, but rather an emergency room nurse and third-generation rancher, Viscarra was nervous. But “I believe it’s my civic duty” to come forward, she said.

After several months of page-by-page review, she said it’s her conclusion that the general plan “seems to mirror almost verbatim Agenda 21.”
Debra explains later:
[Viscarra] attributes the inclusion of Agenda 21 language in the general plan to the consultants that help jurisdictions write planning documents and organizations that provide grants.

She said the words “Agenda 21” never appear in such documents, but words such as “sustainability,” “open space,” “mixed-use housing” and “sustainable development,” which she describes as the “most egregious,” are all indicators of its influence.

“They will never, ever call it Agenda 21,” she said.
Debra probably isn't what you'd call an Agenda 21 "true believer" in the tea-party realm. But she did tell me the side-by-side comparisons between language in the Agenda 21 document and that of the draft general plan made an impression. I've seen the PowerPoint myself and spoken with Viscarra briefly, and the comparisons are striking.

This debate is playing out in rural communities throughout the West as more rural residents take more of an active role in their local governance. Watch for more on the Agenda 21 front at CapitalPress.com in the coming weeks.

LaMalfa says no to new gun ban proposals

As emotional calls for gun bans continue to swirl around Washington, D.C., the north state's congressman has signaled he will not support restrictions on firearms ownership proposed by President Obama:

From his recent statement:
“Restricting access to firearms and the rights of law abiding citizens will not change the tragedies of the past or prevent them in the future.”

“I was sent to Washington not to strip rights away from the American people, but to defend our basic freedoms and ensure that our government follows the Constitution. I am very concerned that the President’s use of executive orders is not only legally questionable, but contrary to the principles of representative government which our nation was founded upon.”

“Furthermore, this type of ban always fails to achieve any real result,” concluded LaMalfa. “A simple look at Oakland and Chicago, which have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, proves that these laws don’t work. More laws and gun bans will not stop those with a wicked heart, criminal designs or serious mental illness.”
Flashy agenda-driven newspaper headlines aside, it's wise to temper any expectations of a gun-free society by remembering these things: 1) Americans are purchasing guns and joining the NRA at a record rate; 2) most understand the founders' reason for including the Second Amendment in the Constitution was to protect them against tyranny; 3) LaMalfa is part of a House majority that isn't likely to act on the proposed legislation; and 4) most gun owners have said they would not comply with bans that might be imposed by Congress or the president.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lake still nearly full despite sunny days




I took these photos today at Shasta Lake for a centerpiece story we're doing on the water year. Pictured are friends Doug Simon of Shasta Lake and Don Macdonald of Alameda, who are talking while enjoying the view and the sunny weather. We all remarked at how similar today's weather was to that of the Bay Area, with the cool breeze coming off the water.

Though we've recorded less of an inch of rain in the Redding area for the month, Shasta Lake is still at 76 percent of capacity and 111 percent of average for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Businesses praise Nielsen for voting record

State Sen. Jim Nielsen has received a perfect score from the National Federation of Independent Business on key pieces of legislation the organization monitored.

From the senator:
“Small businesses are the economic engine of our state,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen. “Together, they account for nearly half of the private sector jobs. And 64% of the new private sector jobs are generated by these independent businesses.”

NFIB/California executive director John Kabateck thanked Nielsen for his support.

“On behalf of the more than three million small businesses in California, we offer our sincere gratitude to Sen. Nielsen for his support of policies that reduce burdensome regulations and taxes, curtail frivolous lawsuits and create certainty for California’s small business job creators.”

The NFIB/California Voting Record is developed by selecting 13 key bills proposed by the legislature that affect small businesses based on NFIB member policy priorities, and on which every member of the Legislature had an opportunity to cast a vote. The votes on those bills are then recorded and a percentage is determined.

“Lawmakers must do everything we can to enable courageous entrepreneurs to create jobs and hire more Californians,” Nielsen concluded.
In other news from Nielsen's office:
The State Capitol is looking for dynamic college graduates who are interested in public service experience. Applications are now available in Senator Jim Nielsen’s offices in Oroville and Rocklin.

These positions pay a monthly stipend of $1,972 plus health, vision, and dental benefits. In addition, each individual earns six units of graduate credit from California State University, Sacramento.

“Our state faces tremendous challenges ahead,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen who represents the Fourth Senate District. “This fellowship allows individuals to gain hands-on experience in public policy at the highest levels.”

The Capital Fellows Programs assign qualified individuals to the offices of Senators, Assembly members, judges and senior state officials. These fellowships are jointly operated by each participating branch of government and the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University.

Anyone who will be at least 20 years of age and a graduate of a four-year college or university by September is eligible to apply. There is no preferred major. Individuals with advanced degrees and those in mid-career are also encouraged to apply.

Brochures are available in Nielsen’s Capitol office, his Rocklin office at 5800 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite 720 and his Oroville Office at 1550 Myers Street, Suite C or by calling (916) 435-0744. Applications and brochures are also online at http://www.csus.edu/calst/capital_fellows_programs_overview.html .

All applications must be received by 5:00 a.m. on Monday, February 11, 2013.
The Intermountain News' Craig Harrington and the Record Searchlight's Bruce Ross recently interviewed Nielsen and north state Assemblyman Brian Dahle, a longtime Capital Press subscriber. The IM News has the conversations here.

Athletes join exodus from California

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods aren't the only pro athletes who have talked about moving out of California because of its confiscatory tax rates.

As Tony Lee of Breitbart reports:
Torii Hunter, who used to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, said he moved from California to Texas "because it doesn't have state income tax."

Venus and Serena Williams learned to play tennis in Compton, California. They now live in Florida. Female golfer Michelle Wie and her parents briefly lived in Palo Alto, California while she was attending Stanford. When she graduated, she moved to Florida.

But the higher taxes also hurt players who are not in the limelight.

Consider American Sam Querry. The 25-year-old tennis player, who is the second-highest-ranked American male tennis player in the world, does not have Mickelson's riches. But he moved from Thousand Oaks, CA to Las Vegas, Nevada, following his parents who left California because of its high income taxes. Pro golfer Nick Watney, according to the Journal, also left California to Nevada.
The whole story is here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lightning strike zaps Capital Press website

A lightning strike somewhere in the Pacific Northwest has affected the server for CapitalPress.com, so access to the site may be slow or non-existent and some items may not appear.

Our tech support team is working on the problem.

Redding Rodeo to host 'Champions Challenge'




In the photos, Redding Rodeo chairman Bennett Gooch is seen doing interviews after a media luncheon at the rodeo grounds, including to the Record Searchlight's David Benda (pictured at top).

Rodeo officials gave the details of their plan to add a fourth day to this year's event. The regular rodeo will be held Wednesday through Friday evenings, May 15-17. Then Saturday, May 18, will feature a "Champions Challenge" involving the world's top 10 cowboys or barrel racers in each event.

Redding will be the first of four stops on this sort of miniature all-star tour; the others are a rodeo in Florida and two in Texas. The events will be televised on Great American Country; Redding's is to be broadcast on July 7 and July 13.

As I noted earlier, this comes on the 25th anniversary of bull-riding champion Lane Frost's "Challenge of the Champions" with legendary bucking bull Red Rock, which he rode to 8 seconds for the first time in Redding. Organizers of this "challenge" said the two aren't directly related; Gooch and some other rodeo chairmen were just looking for ways to boost interest in their venues and their sport.

More information will come as the event gets closer, organizers told us today. In the meantime, look for my story at CapitalPress.com soon. Also, watch for David's coverage and that of Channel 7's Jennifer Scarborough, who was also there.

Farm Bureau encouraged by immigration bill

The California Farm Bureau Federation is encouraged that prospects for a new U.S. Senate bill on immigration appear promising.

From the Farm Bureau:
With farmers across California reporting chronic problems in hiring enough people to tend and harvest crops, the leader of the state's largest farm organization welcomed today's release of a bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Senate.

"We're encouraged that our elected officials acknowledge the immigration issues that face the nation and in particular farmers and their employees, and that immigration reform will be a priority this year," California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said. "Farmers struggle to hire enough domestic employees, so they rely on foreign employees willing to harvest America's food. Many of the people who tend to the food we eat are not properly documented. Reform of immigration laws should secure our borders and allow immigrants who are contributing to our communities to work in farming."

Wenger said he is pleased that the plan announced today includes a pledge to secure the border while crafting a workable immigration program for agriculture. He noted that in an online survey conducted by Farm Bureau last year, California farmers and ranchers described continuing problems in finding enough people to take on-farm jobs.

"Nearly two-thirds of the farmers who responded to our survey described significant problems hiring enough employees," Wenger said. "We learned that not having a workable immigration program for agricultural employees affects farmers throughout the state and across an array of crops, especially fruits and vegetables. California's future as the nation's leading source of nutritious fruits and vegetables relies on a steady workforce—and immigration reform is the only solution."

As a new harvest season begins, Wenger said, it's important for Congress to work on a solution sooner rather than later. He added that the California Farm Bureau, as part of the newly formed Agriculture Workforce Coalition and as a partner in the American Farm Bureau Federation, is focused on enacting reform this year.

"It's important that any agricultural immigration program provide the flexibility needed for the large variety of fruits, vegetables, crops and livestock grown by American farmers," Wenger said. "What we've seen today from the bipartisan group of senators reflects movement in the right direction for reform, and Congress must keep moving forward."

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
In the photo, Wenger is seen speaking at a Tehama County Farm Bureau dinner in November.

Nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt, who's more of a journalist than 90 percent of the so-called reporters in the national news media today, interviewed Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake about the bipartisan immigration proposals on his show Monday. The transcript is here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Groups laud Japan's easing of beef trade

The nation's largest cattlemen's group says it's "great news" that Japan is easing its restrictions on U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months of age.

From a news release:
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has learned that as of Feb. 1, Japan will begin accepting beef and beef products from cattle under 30 months of age. The new terms and conditions expand market access from cattle under 20 months to cattle under 30 months. It is estimated that this change in protocol will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional exports of U.S. beef.

“This is great news for cattlemen and women and is a significant milestone in our trading relationship with Japan,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. “Japan is a great market for U.S. beef and we look forward to continuing to meet Japanese consumer demands. This move is an important step forward in paving the way toward greater export opportunities to one of our largest export markets.”

Through November 2012, Japan was the second largest export market for U.S. beef totaling $849 million and nearly 130,000 metric tons. Alexander added that this announcement is a shot in the arm to a market and producers facing continued drought, high input costs and increasing federal regulation.
UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Here's what the U.S. Meat Export Federation has to say:
A new agreement that will expand access for U.S. beef to Japan is being hailed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) as a positive step for the American beef industry as well as the Japanese trade and consumers.

The change, which takes effect Feb. 1, will allow the United States to export beef from animals under 30 months of age to Japan with the exception of ground beef, which will be phased in after a surveillance period to ensure that the new export protocol is proceeding smoothly. In the aftermath of the discovery of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the U.S. in December 2003, only beef from animals 20 months of age or younger has been eligible for export to Japan.

“This is an extremely positive development that successfully addresses one of the longest standing issues between our two governments,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The U.S. beef industry – from farmers and ranchers to exporters – will benefit from increased exports to this premium market. At the same time, the trade and consumers in Japan will see a wider variety of beef products and improved availability of U.S. beef in the retail and food service channels.

“We are grateful to the governments of Japan and the United States for their efforts to make this agreement a reality,” added Seng.

The U.S. beef industry is working closely with USDA to ensure the smooth implementation of the new agreement. Among the provisions of the agreement are that beef products produced before Feb. 1 must be accompanied by appropriate documentation and produced under the current export verification (EV) program. These products may not be comingled with products produced Feb. 1 or after, which must be produced under the new EV program and accompanied by the new export documentation.

Japan is currently the No. 2 market for U.S. beef exports in terms of value and No. 3 in volume (143,900 metric tons or 317.2 million pounds) valued at $969.8 million through the first 11 months of 2012 – expected to top $1 billion in value for the year for the first time since 2003.

USMEF forecasts that U.S. beef exports to Japan in 2013 as a result of expanded access to the market will increase roughly 45 percent in volume and value, reaching 225,000 metric tons (496 million pounds) and $1.5 billion.

Bull sale nets $1.2 million in total sales

Saturday's bull sale in Red Bluff netted $1.22 million in total sales, marking the third straight year the event's sales had toppled the $1 million mark.

In all, 378 bulls were showcased in the auction arena in the Don Smith Pavilion at the Tehama District Fair grounds, averaging a price of $3,237 per bull.

Check CapitalPress.com later for more details.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feds taking comments on Klamath sucker plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments on an energy company's conservation plan for two endangered sucker fish species in the Klamath Basin.

As part of its habitat conservation plan, PacifiCorp would discontinue routine operations at two hydroelectric facilities at its Link River Dam in southern Oregon and fund restoration projects and other activities to benefit the imperiled Lost River and shortnose suckers.

The Link River Dam is separate from the four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River slated for removal under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it had unveiled a draft environmental assessment of PacifiCorp's plan, triggering a 60-day public comment period that is set to close March 28.

Watch for my complete story, including information about how to comment, at CapitalPress.com.

Bull Sale Days 4 and 5: Stop by our booth

Among the scores of businesses with booths at the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale's trade show is the Capital Press, where our audience-development specialist and all-around star promoter Hannah Brause is greeting existing customers and making new ones.

I owe a great deal to the Capital Press booth at the bull sale. I happened upon the booth while holding down the (now-defunct) Red Bluff bureau for the Record Searchlight and learned how the paper operates and how its reporters are disbursed throughout the West. I ended up applying later that year, in 2008, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So stop by our booth for a chance to win cool merchandise, including some antique-looking model trucks with the Capital Press logo that I was coveting. And if you don't have a subscription to the paper yet, isn't it high time you signed up? Even if you're not in agriculture, you do eat, right?

Today is Day 4 of the bull sale, when the program kicks it up a notch. Among the highlights are the final workout of ranching dogs outside at noon, the sale of the dogs this afternoon and tonight's sale or horses and mules. It all culminates in tomorrow's sale of all bulls and tomorrow night's bull-riding contest, all at the Tehama District Fair grounds. Here is the full schedule.

Again, watch for our ongoing coverage here and at CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slow going for livestock-related businesses




Today I talked with lots of vendors at the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale's giant trade show, focusing mainly on those businesses that deal with the livestock industry.

In the photos, from the top: Stew and Barbara Lowry of Spangler Construction in Corning talk to customers: Grant Gibbs of Gibbs Manufacturing talks about the equipment he makes for ranchers to drag their livestock arenas; and Clay Ensley and Jake Masterson of Idaho-based Hickman Saddlery laugh at my photography.

Most livestock-related enterprises report that business is still slow from the perpetually sluggish economy. Gibbs told me his sales volume is about half what it was a couple of years ago.

For my complete article, check CapitalPress.com soon.

North state legislators update

There's lots going on today with our north state representatives in the Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives. First of all, Rep. Doug LaMalfa has been named to five subcommittees dealing with agriculture and natural resources. From his office:
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) today announced that he has been appointed to five subcommittees with a strong impact on the North State, particularly in the areas of water supply, forest management and agriculture.

“I am pleased and excited to be appointed to these five subcommittees, which I believe are an excellent fit and very important to California’s First Congressional District,” said LaMalfa. “Water supply, forest management and agriculture are primary economic factors in the district and I am eager to utilize my experience and background as a member of these subcommittees.”

House Committee on Natural Resource

· Water and Power (Jurisdiction: America’s water resources, federal irrigation projects, generation of electric power from federal water projects and interstate water issues)

· Public Lands (Jurisdiction: National Park System, U.S. Forests, public lands and national monuments)

· Indian Affairs (Jurisdiction: Native Americans, including the 566 federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Corporations, and nearly 1.9 million American Indians).

House Committee on Agriculture

· General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (Jurisdiction: Program and markets related to cotton, cottonseed, wheat, feed grains, soybeans, oilseeds, rice, dry beans, peas, lentils, the Commodity Credit Corporation, risk management, including crop insurance, commodity exchanges, and specialty crops).

· Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture (Jurisdiction: Fruits and vegetables, honey and bees, marketing and promotion orders, plan pesticides, quarantine, adulteration of seeds and insect pests, and organic agriculture, research, education and extension, biotechnology, and foreign agriculture assistance, and trade promotion programs).
Also, state Sen. Jim Nielsen issued the following response to Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State speech:
“I commend the Governor for voicing the Republican principle of fiscal responsibility.

“Although the Governor argued for fiscal restraint, he was silent on critical budget reforms like a hard spending cap and a real reserve. The budget is not fixed; it is funded with temporary tax increases.

“The budget does little to pay down our debt; and the ‘surplus’ is a sham.

“Water is a valuable resource that must be preserved. But the proposal to build two tunnels around the San Joaquin Delta is not the way to go; it is a pipe dream.

“The costly High Speed Rail and the peripheral canals are unnecessary, and we simply cannot afford them.

“I am encouraged that the Governor expressed a desire to rethink CEQA and the hurdles this law places on job creation and retention across the state.

“The Governor must make substantive and enduring reforms to CEQA, not cosmetic changes.

“What’s missing in the Governor’s address is public safety. Realignment is a social experiment that is not working and is putting our lives in danger with the release of habitual convicted felons.”
Watch here for the very latest on our local congressman and legislators.

Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale, Day 3

In the photo, Becky Sintek of Lazy J Red Angus in Primeville, Ore., pats one of the bulls they brought to this week's Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale.

Today is Day 3 of the sale at the Tehama District Fair grounds. Today's activities include the online sale of feeder and replacement heifer lots in the Don Smith Pavilion. For the complete schedule, click here.

I'll be there checking out the heifer sale and talking to vendors at the trade show, where the Capital Press has a booth. See you there.

Corn prices deplete Super Bowl chicken wings

Escalating corn prices that are often blamed on ethanol production have apparently led to fewer chicken wings available for Super Bowl parties.

From the National Chicken Council:
Chicken wings have become a staple food of Super Bowl parties in the U.S., and demand for them on menus is now at an all-time high leading up to the second biggest eating day of the year – Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl weekend is unquestionably the biggest time of the year for wings. According to the National Chicken Council’s 2013 Wing Report, more than 1.23 billion wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in 2013, as fans watch the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens battle for the Lombardi Trophy.

To put that into perspective, if 1.23 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore… 27 times.

Super Bowl wing consumption is down about one percent, or 12.3 million wings, compared to last year’s numbers, but not because demand for them is declining. Quite the opposite, explains Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council.

“Chicken companies produced about one percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Roenigk said. “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”

Where have all the decent people gone?

Commentator Hugh Hewitt has an excellent take on the social ramifications when people like Phil Mickelson decide to leave an area.

Hewitt blogs:
When the Phil Mickelsons of a region begin to leave, there will be a problem, and not just because of the loss of tax revenues, though that will be a huge hit in places like California, but because of the flight of virtuous people who despair not of getting recognition but of simply not being treated as robber-barons by politicians and press alike.

If you could chart the amount of social capital fleeing places like California for other homes like Texas and Florida, the true cost of ill-conceived high-tax policies could be calculated.

Ask the executive directors of not-for-profits who people their boards and especially their fund-raising subcommittees. Los Angeles and New York City may never see their social capital elite vanish, but the consequences of indifference to givers is real and continuing in every state that punishes wealth creation and entrepreneurial success.

If a community mistreats its most generous citizens, those citizens leave in search of other places that will provide them a welcome and appreciation. The abuse heaped on Phil Michelson will not in the least change the actions of those being burdened by California’s policies, it will just make them quieter as they go about withdrawing from the state and all the activities they are involved in.

It is social capital suicide, and the folks condemning Phil Michelson are ignoring not just the reality of economic behavior, they are ignoring the consequences on communities impacted by far more than the loss of tax revenue. When a state legislator dismisses the problem by stating that Mickelson is "the exception rather than the rule," as California State Assemblyman Roger Dickinson did --he's a Democrat-- that state employee is not only ignoring the treasury of the state, they are ignoring the communities they allegedly represent.
I've been in organizations that are far worse off today because they let their most virtuous people walk away, or in some cases pushed them away. It can happen to states, too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

LaMalfa votes for House debt ceiling bill

The north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa today voted in favor of a bill that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling while setting up a springtime debate over taxes, spending and the deficit.

As the AP reported via CapitalPress.com:
The measure would suspend the $16.4 trillion cap on federal borrowing and reset it on May 19 to reflect the additional borrowing required between the date the bill becomes law and then. The amount of borrowing required depends on the tax receipts received during filing season, but over a comparable period last year the government ran deficits in the range of $150 billion.

The measure also contains a provision that slaps at the Senate, which hasn't debated a budget since 2009, by withholding the pay for either House or Senate members if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a budget plan. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced Wednesday that the chamber would indeed debate a budget this year but maintained the GOP's "no budget, no pay" move had nothing to do with the decision.
Today's measure passed 285 to 144, with 86 Democrats bucking their party's leadership and voting yes.

Day 2 at Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale

One of the largest livestock events in the West, the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale is in its second day.

In the photo, Merle Eakin (center) of Lazy J Red Angus in Primeville, Ore., talks with Bernie Hartman (left), owner of C.B. Ranch in Gerber. Both have bulls in Saturday's sale.

Here are today's highlights:
12:00PM Trade Show and Art Show open. Close at 7:00PM.

1:00PM Working Stock Dogs - All dogs work OUTSIDE.

3:30-5:30PM Cow Horse Clinic: Bobby Ingersoll, NRCHA Hall of Fame Member, World Champion , Pauline Davis Pavilion

6:00PM Buyer & Consignor Dinner - $15/person. Fairgrounds Cafeteria. Cocktails

6:00PM. Dinner at 7:00PM Youth Activity Fund Raffle: 7:30PM and Auction of Red Bluff's Buckin' Best Bull Riders.
Watch for our extensive coverage here and at CapitalPress.com in the coming days.

Comment period reopens on contentious beetle

A federal agency is reopening public comments on a proposal to rescind Endangered Species Act protections for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
On October 2, 2012, the Service published a 12-month petition finding and proposed rule to remove the VELB from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and opened a 60-day comment period that ended on December 3, 2012. This notice announces a 30-day reopening of the comment period to allow all interested parties an additional opportunity to comment on the proposed rule and to submit information on the status of the species. The Service expects that a peer review report of the proposed rule will be submitted near the beginning of the comment period and available for the public.

“We encourage the public, government agencies, tribes, private industry and non-profit organizations to provide us with information on the status of the VELB,” said Jan Knight, Acting Field Supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “We want our decisions to be informed by the best available information.”

The Service will accept comments until February 22, 2013. Comments can be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, (Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2011-0063) or by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0063
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

The Service requests comments concerning any location-specific information about the VELB or its habitat. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule. All submitted comments, including the peer review report, will be posted online at http://www.regulations.gov.

Taxpayer exodus from California escalating

More and more California job creators are leaving because of tax increases, a major news outlet is reporting.

Fox News talked to numerous high earners affected by Proposition 30, many of whom declined to give their names because of a fear of being "harassed" by the Franchise Tax Board.

From the report:
"We feel like the politically convenient target," he said. "Governor Brown used the tyranny of the majority to steal from the minority. It's that simple. The majority isn't going to vote to increase their taxes -- stick it to the guy next door. That is the mentality in California and while we love the state and will miss the beaches, we've had it. We're out."

A venture capitalist wrote: "I am thinking about Seattle. In our business, my income comes in big pops when we sell a company. So when those events happen I will always be taxed at the highest rate."

A Napa County winemaker added: "Truly frightening. I was a little shocked when we looked at our first paycheck of 2013. I have nothing taken out above the minimum required taxes and found my net pay was 46 percent of the gross. Any wonder we, as I'm sure many others, are considering fleeing CA for an income tax free state, in our case Jackson Hole, WY. " [...]

While most of the evidence of an exodus so far is anecdotal, some tax analysts expect the evidence to show up in declining tax revenues from the wealthy by 2014, as they figure out how to legally relocate without actually leaving the Golden State nine months a year.
It's not just the rich who are leaving. We have relatives who may move to Oregon because of gun and hunting regulations. And then there's the financially struggling Sacramento Kings, who are leaving for Seattle because Sacramento city leaders are content with just being a stale government town.

California will be an interesting place five years from now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Red Bluff Bull Sale begins with sifting, grading






The five days of activities that make up the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale began this morning with an awesome kickoff breakfast, followed by the sifting and grading of range-ready bulls.

In the photos, from the top: Merle Eakin of Lazy J Red Angus in Primeville, Ore., brings a bull in to be fed; A couple of ranchers prepare their bulls for judging; Cottonwood veterinarian Bill Hooton looks at a bull from the Lazy J during the sifting stage; the Lazy J's Becky Sintek moves the bull around the arena as Hooton watches; and Hooton checks out a bull from the C.B. Ranch in Gerber.

Look for my article on the process at CapitalPress.com soon.

Channels 12 and 24 were there interviewing bull sale manager Adam Owens, so watch for their report tonight, too.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nielsen praises veterans home administrator

The north state's Sen. Jim Nielsen has praised Gov. Jerry Brown's choice for administrator of the new veterans home in Redding.

From the senator:
State Senator Jim Nielsen issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s appointment of Ronald Brown of Oroville as administrator at the Veterans Home of California in Redding:

“The appointment of an administrator is promising news to veterans and our community.

“The Governor’s full funding for the opening of Veterans’ Homes in Redding and Fresno in his budget, followed by the appointment of Mr. Ronald Brown, is a much appreciated and joyous assurance that many California veterans will have a wonderful new place to call home.

“Our men and women in uniform have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation; they are deserving of our support.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

Poll: Most grasp reason for Second Amendment

A vast majority of Americans appear to understand that the reason the Second Amendment exists has little to do with hunting.

As Townhall.com's Katie Pavlich reports:
Paging CNN host Piers Morgan. A new Rasmussen Report shows an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the Second Amendment and gun rights are necessary to protect against tyranny.

Two-out-of-three Americans recognize that their constitutional right to own a gun was intended to ensure their freedom.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of American Adults think the purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure that people are able to protect themselves from tyranny. Only 17% disagree, while another 18% are not sure.

In case you missed it last week, Morgan mocked Breitbart's Ben Shapiro for making this point.
The new polling data comes as gun-rights rallies are planned throughout the north state on Saturday, including one at the corner of Cypress Avenue and Hilltop Drive in Redding.

Bill to add transparency in federal judgments

Cattlemen's and public-lands advocacy groups are applauding a bill in Congress that seeks to add transparency in federal judgments paid out to plaintiffs in environmental and other lawsuits.

As the Capital Press' Mateusz Perkowski has reported, neither the USDA nor the Interior Department has fully tracked plaintiffs who sought and received such compensation between 2000 and 2010, according to the Government Accountability Office.

From the Public Lands Council:
The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) voiced their support of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act, introduced today in the House of Representatives. The bill, introduced by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), seeks to provide increased oversight and transparency of the Treasury Department Judgment Fund.

The fund, established in 1956, is used to pay court judgments and settlements in cases brought against the federal government, if those costs are not otherwise covered by appropriated agency budgets. Currently, the Treasury has no reporting requirements or accountability to Congress or taxpayers, despite payouts having totaled more than $5 billion over the past three years. The transfer of funds is not currently subject to the approval of members of Congress or the public, and is not part of public record.

The legislation would require the Treasury to issue a public report describing funds allocated, a brief description of facts surrounding the agency request and an identification of the recipient of those funds. The legislation targets abuse of the fund by groups that consistently challenge the federal government in court and receive reimbursement.

“The livestock industry fully supports Rep. Gardner’s introduction of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act, a good-governance transparency bill which will serve as a major step forward in the effort to track currently unaccounted-for tax dollars being used to put our producers out of business,” said PLC Executive Director and NCBA Federal Lands Director Dustin Van Liew.

Van Liew asserted the bill would have a significant impact on the pervasive anti-agriculture lawsuits facing the government and livestock producers.

“Predatory litigators have made a cottage industry of bringing process-based lawsuits against the federal government in cases that affect livestock producers, which allows them to advance their anti-livestock agenda at taxpayers’ expense,” he said. “Our members, in order to defend their businesses, often end up paying out-of-pocket for personal attorneys at the same time that their tax dollars are being funneled to their opponents.”

PLC has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Public land ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation’s natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world.
For our continuing coverage of this issue, check CapitalPress.com.

Butte sheriff won't enforce Obama gun edicts

Butte County Sheriff Jerry Smith says he won't enforce any federal gun restrictions that encroach on the Second Amendment.

He told KRCR-TV that "responsible gun ownership should be an individual decision but [it's a decision that] people who are not impaired should be able to make."

Channel 7's story is here.

His comments come as north state residents are preparing to take part in a gun-rights rally as part of national Gun Appreciation Day on Saturday in Yreka.

Nielsen receives Senate committee posts

State Sen. Jim Nielsen has been named to the chamber's Health, Insurance and Veterans committees, his office has announced.

From Nielsen:
California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) recommended and the Rules Committee unanimously confirmed Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) to serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization and as a member of the Senate Committees on Health, Insurance and Veterans Affairs.

A strong advocate for the needs of California veterans, Nielsen will be a forceful voice for the men and women in uniform and for the completion of the veterans’ homes in Redding and Fresno.

“Our veterans serve our country with integrity and pride; we must give them the support they have earned through their service,” said Nielsen.

On the Senate Committee on Health, Nielsen will fight to protect the quality of California's healthcare system as the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare” continues. Nielsen, along with fellow committee members, will review and examine the ramifications of this vast increase in federal government control over our healthcare.

“California's spending problems have not been erased by recent tax increases and the Legislature must be vigilant in guarding its finances when dealing with the ramifications of Obamacare,” said Nielsen.

These high level committee assignments follow Nielsen’s appointment as Caucus Whip in the Republican Leadership on Tuesday. Senator Nielsen was sworn-in as State Senator to represent California’s 4th Senate District on January 10, 2013 after a special run-off election to complete the senate term of newly elected U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa.

Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@sen.ca.gov.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gun rights rally set for Saturday in Yreka

North state defenders of Second Amendment rights will take part in the nationwide Gun Appreciation Day on Saturday with a 10 a.m. rally in Yreka.

From Pie N Politics:
Gun Owners
Appreciation Day Rally


A peaceful demonstration of our Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms will be held on
Saturday
Jan. 19th
10-1 pm
On the corner of Oberlin and South Main, Yreka

Bring signs and flags and join fellow citizens as we bring awareness to the community about the 2nd Amendment

the Second
Protects
the First

Contact Louise for questions
842-5443

Olive committee seeking grower nominations

The California Olive Committee, which handles marketing and research for the state's olive industry, is seeking nominations of new members to serve two-year terms beginning in June.

From the COC:
The California Olive Committee (COC) is seeking grower nominations for new committee terms, running June 1, 2013 through May 31, 2015. Appointees will have the opportunity to take an active role in shaping COC programs and the future of the California ripe olive industry.

Producers in both growing districts are encouraged to submit their nominations in person at two upcoming meetings in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys:

[...]

District 1 (North): Counties including Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Colusa and Shasta

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2013
1-3 p.m.
Corning Veteran’s Hall
1620 Solano St.
Corning, CA 96021
Seeking: Five (5) Members and five (5) Alternates

Growers unable to attend the meetings in their respective districts may also submit nominations to the COC via phone, fax and email. Nominations must be received no later than 7 days after the date of the nomination meeting in their district and can be submitted to the following:

COC office phone: (559) 456-9096
COC office fax: (559) 456-9099
COC email (Denise Junqueiro): denise@calolive.org

As a grower-funded federal marketing order under the United States Department of Agriculture, the COC strongly encourages women, minorities and people with disabilities to seek committee appointments in efforts to enhance the diversity of committee membership.

Each grower may nominate as many Members and Alternates as they wish, including themselves. The only prerequisite for Members and Alternates is that they must be producers within the specified district of nomination. Growers who produce in more than one district can be selected as a nominee in only one district.

Once all nominations are received, ballots will be mailed by March 15, 2013 to all growers.

The COC encourages all interested growers to participate in the nominations process and seeks a wide range of experience and perspectives. As an industry with a $493.6 million impact on the California economy, ripe olive growers across the state have the opportunity to help shape this vital agricultural industry for generations to come.

About the California Olive Committee

The California Olive Committee (COC) is a grower-funded program established by a Federal Marketing Order in 1965 to administer marketing, research, inspection and compliance programs on behalf of the ripe olive industry. The COC is comprised of two olive canners and thousands of family farmers, who raise olives on about 27,000 acres of orchards that crisscross the warm inland valleys of California.

About the California Ripe Olive Industry

California produces more than 95 percent of the olives grown in the U.S. today. Typically farms are not mechanically run, industrial farms, but multi-generational orchards powered by hardworking California farmers and their families. California groves come in all sizes – ranging from small 5-acre lots to 1,000-acre multi-crop farms – and are individually serviced by some of the finest stewards of the land with strict growing and handling standards. There are two main varieties of trees that produce California ripe olives: Manzanillo and Sevillano. These different varieties produce different sizes of olives, giving consumers a choice ranging from small to super colossal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Redding Rodeo to add a fourth day

This year's Redding Rodeo in May is set to include a fourth day of competition, one of the organizers told me today.

The extra day will feature a "challenge of champions" sanctioned by the PRCA.

Interesting, considering that this will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1988 "Challenge of the Champions" involving legendary bull rider Lane Frost and bucking bull Red Rock, of which the Redding Rodeo was one of seven stops. For my recent feature article on Red Rock's owner, John Growney of Red Bluff, click here.

The Redding Rodeo Association will fill in the details later this month. Watch here for updates.

Activists to mark Gun Appreciation Day

Conservative and libertarian activists in the north state and nationwide are responding to the Left's calls for restricting and even seizing firearms by planning a Gun Appreciation Day for Saturday, Jan. 19.

From the organizers via the Siskiyou County-based Pie N Politics:
We’re marching towards Gun Appreciation Day full steam ahead, and already the liberal gun control crowd is using every trick in the book to try and stop us. They even sent one of their key attack dogs on TV to insinuate that our efforts to protect our Second Amendment rights are racist.

Yes, they somehow found a way to pull out the race card against the Bill of Rights. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad.

We have put together a plan for a full media blast to counter their ridiculous claims and build support for Gun Appreciation Day. But we don’t have much time – especially considering frisky Uncle Joe Biden is charging full speed ahead with his gun-grabbing task force.
The group is seeking donations for a media blitz.

My hunch is that the movement will get a lot of support, considering that Americans are responding to what many see as the Left's unprecedented assault on our Constitution by joining the NRA in record numbers.

In reality, the prospect of more gun restrictions is polling terribly. And if the Obama administration thinks folks will just hand over all the new weapons they've purchased as a result of this push, I suspect they're in for a rude awakening.

Western GOP leader: Get serious on spending

Freshman Rep. Doug LaMalfa isn't the only one calling for fiscal restraint. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, said the party will push the Obama administration in the coming months for fiscal responsibility.

In a message to her constituents in eastern Washington, she wrote:
In the last few weeks, Congress has been focused on keeping taxes from increasing and putting the U.S. government on a sustainable path toward growth and prosperity.

Over long days and late nights, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, we worked on plans to avert the “fiscal cliff” – automatic tax increases (more than $3,000 for the average family in Eastern Washington) and spending cuts – that economists predicted would push the country back into recession and higher unemployment.

The good news is that we didn’t go over the cliff – we passed tax cuts for 98% of taxpayers – the largest permanent tax cut in American history. I voted for this legislation that made the Bush-era tax cuts permanent, including lower rates for inheritance, investment and income for anyone earning under $400,000 per year.

An Imperfect Compromise

While we’ve kept tax rates low for as many hardworking Americans as possible, I was also frustrated that we did not make significant progress to curb spending. The agreement Congress passed was not a long-term solution, and it did not accomplish everything that Eastern Washington needs. But we did make some significant progress.

The plan I supported makes income tax rates permanent for 98% of taxpayers. It permanently holds down the death tax at 40%, with a $5 million exemption per person, which protects thousands of Eastern Washington’s family farms and businesses. It also provides a one-year extension of the Farm Bill, which prevents a doubling of milk prices and brings more certainty to Eastern Washington’s farmers at a time they need it most. It extends tax relief for underwater homeowners and allows residents to deduct their sales tax, and will ensure Medicare patients can keep seeing their doctors. It makes important provisions permanent for Eastern Washington families like the marriage penalty relief and the child deduction tax credit.

It is no secret that the President opposes any spending cuts and has favored tax increases.

Now that tax relief has been extended, it’s time for the President to work with Congress to get our nation’s fiscal house in order by addressing the underlying problem, which is spending. The national debt is currently $16 trillion and climbing – which makes each American’s share of the debt over $50,000. This is unacceptable and unsustainable. We must cut spending and grow the economy to avoid passing on an even bigger debt burden to our children and grandchildren.

Spending Cuts Needed

The most urgent action we must take is to tackle the debt that threatens our nation's future. This compromise is a first step, and we must take a bigger second step that puts an end to out-of-control federal spending. And we will.

The compromise legislation we adopted has a built-in deadline for spending cuts. In two months, $1 trillion in automatic across-the-board cuts called “sequestration,” begin. Few Members of Congress want to see these 2013 cuts done in a haphazard manner – cutting $55 billion from defense and $55 billion from other spending immediately.

There will also be votes in the next few months to continue funding the government and to increase the debt ceiling, which should provide other opportunities to press the Administration for a responsible spending plan.

As we look forward to the 113th Congress, my number-one priority is to protect and stand up for you, the great people of Eastern Washington. I am humbled that you’ve elected me to serve you, and I am honored every day to represent you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shasta County's JS Ranch agrees to easement

The JS Ranch in Shasta County is one of four properties totaling 13,000 acres entering conservation easements through the California Rangeland Trust, the organization has announced.

From the CRT:
California Rangeland Trust (Rangeland Trust) is pleased to announce the addition of four new conservation easements to its conservation portfolio. The four conserved properties, the Payne Ranch, JS Ranch, Old San Simeon Village, and Oakvale Ranch are located in Colusa, Shasta, Monterey and Mariposa Counties respectively.

The conservation easements were transferred from or completed in partnership with the American Land Conservancy (The Conservancy) to the Rangeland Trust and are shining examples of how California's land trust community works together to preserve open spaces cherished by all Californians.

"We are honored to once again work in partnership with the American Land Conservancy to protect America's natural heritage by helping ranchers conserve their land for the benefit of future generations and all Californians," said Nita Vail CEO of the Rangeland Trust.

Speaking on behalf of The Conservancy, President Kerry O'Toole said, "California Rangeland Trust has been a valued partner of ALC for over a decade and together these organizations have preserved many critical properties across the state, including the Hearst Ranch."

The 5,940-acre JS Ranch is a privately owned ranch that is home to portions of the Old Cow Creek and Clover Creek which both feed into the Sacramento River. The ranch maintains many conservation values including mule deer winter range, , riparian corridors, aquatic habitat for anadromous fish, blue oak woodlands, chaparral, vernal pools and populations of sensitive species including the federally listed Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead.

In Colusa County, the 3,140 acre Payne Ranch, located on the eastern slope of the Coast Range, is not only known for its forested uplands, oak woodlands and oak savanna, but its wildlife habitat too. Encompassing a transition zone between the Coast Mountains and the Sacramento Valley, several species make the Payne Ranch their home including migratory birds, black-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, bobcat, badger, wild turkey, dove, quail, wild pigs, and elk.

Old San Simeon Village, located along California's Highway 1, is owned by the Hearst Corporation and was placed under conservation easement with the American Land Conservancy in February of 2005 as part of the larger Hearst Ranch Conservation project.

In Mariposa County, the 3,940 acre Oakvale Ranch, located in the heart of the Sierra-Nevada foothills, is known for it's variety of native grasses, wildlife habitat and water sheds. The working cattle ranch has been rotationally grazed for several years which maintains the property's agricultural productivity.

The Rangeland Trust is proud to partner with The Conservancy to forever preserve these splendid landscapes and working ranches.

The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was created to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California's ranches. To date, the Trust has protected over 275,000 acres of productive grazing lands across the state through the use of conservation easements. For more information, please visit www.rangelandtrust.org

UCCE Tehama to offer prune, walnut workshops

Orchardists will have a couple of chances to gather more tips from the University of California Cooperative Extension on prune and walnut production in the coming weeks.

Tehama County's 2013 Walnut Day will be held Feb. 1 at the Elks Lodge, 355 Gilmore Road, Red Bluff. The 8 a.m. workshop includes talks on walnut blight, husk fly management and irrigation. The $15 tuition includes lunch.

A week later, a Prune Day at the Elks Lodge Feb. 8 will include talks on nitrogen nutrition and disease management. The 8 a.m. Workshop costs $15 and includes a buffet lunch.

Pre-registration is requested. Visit http://cetehama.ucanr.edu/ or call (530) 527-3101.

The workshops will provide virtual bookends to a busy week in the north state, which will also host the Colusa Farm Show Feb. 5-7 and the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference and forest products expo Feb. 7-9 in Anderson.

Nielsen named the GOP caucus whip

State Sen. Jim Nielsen has been given a post in his chamber's Republican leadership, his office announced today.

From Nielsen:
Citing his experience and vast knowledge of the state budget, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) was appointed to serve as Caucus Whip by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).

“California continues to face many challenges,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen. “It is imperative that Senate Republicans speak with a united voice and advocate for policies that will help improve the economy so more Californians can get back to work.”

In his appointment of Nielsen, Huff said, “I am honored to have Senator Nielsen on our leadership team. He will play a key role in advancing our common-sense agenda to carefully oversee the operations of state government.”

Huff added, “This is the only way to assure we provide access to a quality education for our students, strengthen our economy, and increase job opportunities for all Californians.”

The Senate Republican Caucus Whip assists fellow Republicans and advance policies that will help Californians.

Nielsen was elected to the Senate with 66% of the vote in last week’s special run-off election to complete the term of former State Senator Doug LaMalfa, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Bluff ready for another Bull Sale




North state ranchers are gearing up for next week's 72nd Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale at the Tehama District Fair grounds, which offers the best collection of bulls, geldings, stock dogs and replacement females in the West.

In the photos, from the top: Crews prepare to put the temporary building that houses the trade show office in place; Kevin Zumalt (left) and Wyatt Welch, both of Red Bluff, hang a screen to shield the animals in case it rains; and Stan McCready of Eagle Point, Ore, ties panels together in a show arena. The photos were taken today.

Here is the complete schedule of events.

For my advance article on the bull sale, check CapitalPress.com around midday tomorrow.

Crop protection efforts prevent freeze damage

Despite frigid nights and early mornings in the Central Valley over the weekend, measures that farmers took to protect their citrus crops paid off, a growers' group reports.

From the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual:
Temperatures failed to reach predicted lows across citrus producing areas, stabilizing in much of the San Joaquin Valley in the upper 20s allowing for frost protection mechanisms to be successful at preventing any damage to this season’s citrus crop. Ventura, Riverside, and Imperial leveled out in the 30s, again, manageable temperatures with frost protection.

Duration of cold temperatures is the critical factor. The duration of time at temperatures in the mid to upper 20s was longer than previous cold nights, but with protection by wind machines and water, minimal damage is anticipated. Although some cold pockets dropped down to approximately 25 degrees in the early morning hours, the duration of time at the lowest of temperatures was not significant enough to be a cause of worry.

Growers have been running water over the past few days in order to keep ground temperatures up. Once again, wind machines were turned on between midnight and 2 a.m. for navels as temperatures began falling to the 28 degree threshold in order to keep warm air from escaping the grove. Fruit on the exterior perimeter of groves, farthest from the wind machines, are expected to incur some damage. But, with moderate temperatures season-to-date, the navel and lemon crops have had time to mature and build up internal tolerance to cold temperatures.

The mandarin crop, however, will likely see some damage resulting from the cold temperatures this weekend. With a threshold of 32 degrees, wind machines have been used for longer durations on mandarins in order to keep damage at a minimum.

Three days into what is forecast to be a 4-day frost event, growers in the San Joaquin Valley have spent $11.4 million in frost protection mechanisms, not including previous cold nights this season. At this point of the season last year, the industry had spent approximately $100 million in frost protection. Needless to say, this season has been far more moderate than last, and the crop is expected to make is through the cold nights with little damage. The citrus harvest is approximately 25% complete.

Growers are anticipating and preparing for another cold night tonight and will be running water and wind machines starting in the early evening.
UPDATE 2:30 P.M.: Some citrus damage has been reported, according to the AP via CapitalPress.com.

Friday, January 11, 2013

LaMalfa, others laud Farm Bureau at meeting




Newly elected U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa was among more than 100 who attended the Tehama County Farm Bureau's annual meeting and dinner last night at the veterans' hall in Los Molinos.

In the photos, from the top: University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor Allan Fulton (left) talks with his daughter and others before giving a presentation on the nearly 100-year working relationship between the UCCE and Tehama Farm Bureau; Jamie Johansson of the California Farm Bureau Federation speaks; and LaMalfa and others listen to a speaker.

LaMalfa presented proclamations to various award winners, including Q97 morning hosts Billy and Patrick, who received this year's media award. I spoke with LaMalfa at length after the meeting about his priorities for the coming year, including his thoughts on the debt ceiling and planned legislation. Why? Because some print journalist in the Redding area ought to, considering he's the first new congressman the north state has had in more than a quarter-century. I think that deserves more than just slapping a canned quote from a press release onto a wire story, don't you?

For my coverage of last night's meeting, keep an eye on CapitalPress.com.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nielsen sworn in as state senator

Newly elected state Sen. Jim Nielsen was sworn in today during a ceremony at the Capitol in Sacramento.

From Nielsen's office:
Surrounded by family and friends, former Assemblyman Jim Nielsen was sworn into office today to represent the 4th Senate District. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the Senate Chambers at the State Capitol, with the oath of office administered by longtime friend Associate Justice George Nicholson, 3rd District Court of Appeals.

“It is a great honor and privilege to serve again,” said State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber). "Serving the citizens of the North State has been and continues to be my priority. I will carry on my work to push for a state government that serves the people rather than itself and a business friendly economy.”

“Too many willing and able Californians are still unemployed.”

Nielsen, who authored Marsy’s Law and was co-author of California’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, vowed to continue his fight to change the recently passed prison realignment law – Assembly Bill 109 – which has put many dangerous criminals back on the streets.

“I will continue my efforts to stop the crime wave created by AB 109,” Nielsen added.

Nielsen will represent the citizens of the Fourth Senate District which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba Counties.

The Republican rancher and former vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee received 66.7% of the vote in Tuesday’s special run-off election to complete the term of former State Senator Doug LaMalfa, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Following the administration of the oath of office, Nielsen thanked his constituents for their vote of confidence and assured them that he will work hard to protect their hard-earned tax dollars.

“I am humbled by the confidence voters have placed in me, and as always, I will strive to be their voice in the state capitol,” Nielsen concluded.

Redding vets' home included in Brown's budget


The proposed 2013-14 state budget that Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled today includes money to activate the Redding veterans home.

Tucked inside the budget narrative is this tidbit:
Continuing Activation of Redding and Fresno — The Budget includes $27 million for the continuing activation of the veterans homes in Redding and Fresno, both of which will begin admitting residents in the fall of 2013. This proposal will be refined in the spring to reflect the detailed operational requirements for the homes.
UPDATE 2:30 P.M.: State Sen. Jim Nielsen issued the following statement:
“I am appreciative of Governor Brown’s proposal to fund veterans’ homes in Redding and Fresno for the upcoming fiscal year.

“Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation. We must continue to support them.

“I will work with administration officials and my colleagues in the Legislature to ensure that the proposed funding stays intact.”

Runner responds to Brown's budget plan

The north state's representative on the state Board of Equalization gave mixed reviews today to Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal.

From Republican George Runner:
George Runner today issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s January budget proposal:

“I commend the Governor for championing fiscal discipline, which is a foreign concept to most Democrats in the Legislature. The Governor has his work cut out for him.

“However, I’m disappointed that we’ve heard virtually nothing from the Governor about spurring job creation and economic growth.

“California’s budget challenges will not be solved by higher taxes, which only serve to chase investment and jobs out of our state and make revenues more volatile.

“If the Governor and Legislature want to ensure California’s solvency, they need to help the private sector succeed in our state. That means fewer taxes and regulations, not more.

“California’s unemployment rate is still too high. We need more jobs.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NCBA applauds final animal tracing rule

The nation's largest cattlemen's organization is voicing its support for the federal government's new animal tracing rule.

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
With the publication of the final Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule in the Federal Register today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) compliments the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on creating a final rule that includes many of the comments submitted by NCBA on behalf of cattle producers across the country.

“We are encouraged that many of the priorities of cattlemen and women have been included in this final rule,” said NCBA Chief Veterinarian Dr. Kathy Simmons. “USDA APHIS listened to the voices of livestock producers when drafting this rule and the final product is one that will help reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduce the time needed to respond and decrease the cost to producers.”

The final ADT rule establishes general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate. The final rule follows a process in which NCBA and other livestock and agriculture stakeholders participated in a comment phase. Now that it has been published, the rule becomes effective Mar. 11, 2013.

Under the rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. The final rule accepts the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes. Backtags will be accepted as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter.

Most important to cattle producers, according to Simmons, is the announcement by USDA APHIS that a separate rulemaking process will take place for beef cattle under 18 months of age. Currently, the final rule allows beef cattle under 18 months of age, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events, to be exempted from the official identification requirement.

“Cattlemen and women are dedicated to raising healthy cattle, and the implementation of the ADT rule further reinforces the commitment by the livestock industry and government to ensuring that the United States continues to supply our country and the world with safe, high quality beef,” said Simmons. “NCBA encourages USDA APHIS to continue working with industry leaders on this and all animal health issues.”
The Capital Press' coverage of the rule is here and here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A little blog housekeeping

Because of spammers and trolls (mostly the former), I have reluctantly taken the unfortunate step of requiring that comments to this blog be approved prior to publication, at least for the foreseeable future. For those of you who comment on my posts on Facebook, that function will obviously not be affected.

I've always maintained a fairly open-door policy in terms of comments on my blogs, and I will receive an immediate e-mail notification that a comment is pending and will do my best to respond to it quickly. Your comments are welcome. But please keep in mind there are certain things I can't or won't publish, including unsubstantiated personal attacks against people of whom I write. Call me a ruthless SOB all you wish, but that courtesy does not extend to private-citizen sources who don't have the platform to defend themselves.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and thank you very much for coming to my site.

All eyes in Klamath Basin are on Congress

The irrigation districts, tribes and other parties that voted to extend the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement are hoping Congress will at least debate the issue this year, their representatives said.

Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said he hopes hearings will be held so that people with differing views can air them in public.

“Congress hasn't debated the issue,” he said. “We want to see that happen. We want parties who are proponents and opponents to be on record and talk about their concern … We don't know what's going to happen, if they're going to pass legislation or do anything, but I know nothing is going to happen if it just dies.”

Addington and others are placing some of their hopes with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who will chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden has already been talking with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about Klamath issues and reaching out to committee chairs in the House, spokesman Keith Chu said.

“He's gratified that all of the stakeholders were willing to recommit to those principles while understanding the political challenges we continue to face,” Chu said.

However, Chu was noncommittal when asked whether Wyden planned to hold hearings or shepherd new legislation through the Senate.

For my complete overview of how the Klamath signatories view their projects chances of moving forward in the coming year, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Calif. winter fruits, veggies survive cold snap

The development and harvest of winter fruits and vegetables in California have continued unabated despite a recent cold snap, according to a USDA crop weather report.

Fall broccoli was harvested last week in Stanislaus and Fresno counties while carrots were picked in Kern County, and winter cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables continued to grow well because of adequate rain, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported.

In Fresno County, the harvesting of carrots, cabbage, winter squash and head lettuce continued, and fruits such as navel oranges, grapefruit, lemons and Clementine tangerines were picked and packed.

The work proceeded as overnight temperatures dropped into the mid-20s in some areas of the Central Valley last week. Citrus growers ran wind machines and water to protect their crops, which mostly made it through unscathed, according to California Citrus Mutual.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chico rancher honored for activism

Wally Roney, owner of Roney Land and Cattle Co. in Chico, was honored Saturday night as Man of the Year by the Tehama County Cattlemen's Association during the annual winter dinner in Red Bluff.

Here is the bio read by Dick O'Sullivan of the TCCA and provided to the Capital Press (please excuse the all caps):
OUR MAN OF THE YEAR IS A 5TH GENERATION CATTLE RANCHER. OVER THE YEARS HE HAS MADE
SIGNIFICAT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CATTLE INDUSTRY IN TEHAMA COUNTY. HIS FOCUS HAS BEEN
PRIMARILY ON PROPERTY RIGHTS AND 20 YEARS AGO HE CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED THE ATTACK ON
THESE RIGHTS BY THE GOVERNMENT. IN 1994, WHEN BRUCE BABBIT CAME FORWARD WITH HIS
VERSION OF RANGLAND REFORM, OUR MAN OF THE YEAR SAID, “ONCE THE GOVERNMENT IS
SUCCESSFUL REFORMING THE PUBLIC LANDS, THEY WILL BE AFTER PRIVATE PROPERTY.” HE, ALONG
WITH OTHER RANCHERS, FOUGHT THIS REFORM THROUGH THE CALIFORNIA CATTLEMEN’S
ASSOCIATION, THE PUBLIC LANDS COUNCIL, THE FARM BUREAU AND HE PERSONALLY WENT TO
WASHINGTION DC TO MEET WITH THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF AGRUCULTURE AND PRESENT OUR
CASE.

WHEN THE GREAT CONSERVATION MOVEMENT STARTED UP AND THE GOVERNMENT BEGAN
FOCUSING ON PRIVATE LAND, OUR MAN STOOD FIRM IN HIS OPPOSITION TO THE GOVERNMENT’S
NEGATIVE POLICIES. TOGETHER, WITH HELP FROM OUR FRIEND RICH ROSS, HE OPPOSED THE
UNSOLICITED INTRODUCTION OF A SAFE HARBOR PROGRAM FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES IN TEHAMA,
SHASTA, GLENN & BUTTE COUNTIES AND HE WORKED ON A RESOLUTION, THAT WAS PASSED BY THE
CALIFORNIA CATTELMEN’S ASSOCIATION, TO PREVENT THIS TYPE OF THING FROM HAPPENING
IN THE FUTURE. HE WORKED HARD ON THE OPEN RANGE COMMITTEE FOR OVER TWO YEARS. HE
VOLUNTEERED HIS TIME, ALONG WITH ARLO STROING, TO REPRESENT THE TEHAMA CATTLEMEN’S
ASSOCIATION AND WORK ON THE COUNTY GENERAL PLAN FOR AN ADDITIONAL TWO YEARS. HE IS A
MAN WHO TRULY UNDERSTANDS THAT OUR FREEDOMS BEGIN AND END WITH PROPERTY RIGHTS.

WHEN HE FOCUSES ON AN ISSUE, OUR MAN OF THE YEAR CAN TRULY BE DISCRIBED AS “RELENTLESS”.

IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO PRESENT THE 2012 TEHAMA COUNTY CATTLEMEN’S MAN OF THE
YEAR AWARD TO……WALLY RONEY!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cattlemen gather for scholarship dinner




Hundreds of north state cattle producers and their supporters gathered tonight for the 61st annual winter dinner and scholarship auction hosted by the Tehama County Cattlemen's and CattleWomen's associations at the fairgrounds in Red Bluff.

In the photos, from the top: New California Cattlemen's Association president Tim Koopmann (left) talks to another attendee; a customer tastes wine from Sonoma-based Cline Cellars; and Wally Roney (right) of Chico is given the Cattleman of the Year award.

I spoke with Koopmann at length about his background and priorities for the coming year. The rancher from Sunol said the estate tax and overregulation are among his biggest concerns.

Each year, the evening includes a silent and live auction of various donated items, raising about $18,000 for a scholarship fund.

For my story on Koopmann and the year ahead, check CapitalPress.com early next week.