Tag Archives: politics

Americans Need To Engage…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

Two hundred and twenty seven years ago, our forefathers created a document designed to guide our country to greatness. I believe that these savvy men realized that our country’s journey would be riddled with challenges. As such, they recognized that a broad diversity of intelligence and talents in addition to a governance system based on a separation of powers would be necessary to create a sustainable future for our young country.americanwindmill.jpg

The heart of a democracy lies in the grassroots involvement of its citizens. These citizens engage their government leaders and consequently have an important impact on the direction of the country. There is a responsibility that goes along with the privilege of living in a democratic nation — this responsibility begins with voting but extends far beyond this influence. It is a two way obligation between elected leaders and those that they represent.

Leadership of the people, By the people, and For the people…

The framework of our government allows for three branches (Executive, Legislative, Judicial) and, provided these branches operate within their given authority, a separation of powers offers protection from individual abuses of power. On paper the system works, and it provided our country with an effective framework for many years.

My parents raised me to value many of the same things that I believe motivated our forefathers: personal responsibility, integrity and hard work. I carry these principles with me each day as I raise my children and my cattle on our farm. I look for those values in the politicians that lead our country, as well as the governmental framework that they operate within.

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While today I strive to be a proud American, I struggle to find pride in the bastardized form of democracy that is currently running our country. The unprecedented growth of our federal government and its arrogant overreach into the lives of grassroots America leaves me saddened and frustrated.

While my crystal ball is not perfectly clear, I worry that my children will live in a land:

  • Where the federal government is the largest employer in our country…
  • Where the eternal flame of entrepreneurship is extinguished by regulations and bureaucratic red tape…
  • Where activist groups and a handful of politicians who cater to them rule with little care for the wishes of the vast majority of citizens…
  • Where the democratic government laid out by the Constitution is nothing more than a façade under which the President of the United States and the Majority Senate Leader rule with total power as they defy the system carefully laid out by our forefathers…

It is time for Americans to engage — the behavior of some elected officials in Washington DC mocks the cornerstones on which our country was built.

Our system is broken and abuses of power are rampant. We all have the opportunity to engage:

  • Contact your Senators and Congressional Representatives.
  • Offer comments to President Obama and the regulatory agencies that he uses to implement his selfish platform.
  • Vote on November 4th.
  • Uphold your responsibility as a citizen of the United States of America.

    Something this beautiful is worth protecting...

    Something this beautiful is worth protecting…

It is time to once again have a government:

Of the People, By the People and For the People…

 

Political engagement letters by Feed Yard Foodie:

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/the-best-letter-that-i-never-had-to-mail/

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/the-epa-wotus-and-the-myth-of-environmental-protection/

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/did-you-know/

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Foodie Work!, General, Rural Communities

The EPA, WOTUS, and the Myth of Environmental Protection…

My favorite teenager arrived home last week after spending three weeks at Trinity University taking a course entitled “Myths and Legends”. As she walked out of the airport, she was quick to tell me that a myth “didn’t have to be based on the truth or science to be real, it simply had to be accepted as such by a subset of people.”

Her words have filtered through my thoughts many times over the past few days as I pondered the recent actions of the Environmental Protection Agency. On March 25th, the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers jointly proposed a regulation redefining what waters will come under Federal jurisdiction through a new definition of “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” under the federal Clean Water Act.

The agencies have chosen to use the powers of the Executive Branch of government to redefine an already existing law, despite the fact that Congress refused to authorize a legislative change and the proposed rule goes against the definition of WOTUS upheld in the Federal Court system. A basic understanding of United States history would pull into question this action as it is a clear violation of the Checks and Balances System upon which our government was formed.

The proposed rule is a clear overreach of power by the Executive Branch of the United States government, cleverly disguised as environmental protection.

Our farm is diversified:  in addition to the cattle feed yard, we also have grass pasture land and crop ground.  This new definition would expand EPA's jurisdiction to include our pasture and farm ground...

Our farm is diversified: in addition to the cattle feed yard, we also have grass pasture land and crop ground. This new broad definition would expand EPA’s jurisdiction to include pasture and farm ground like ours (pictured above) because during times of heavy rains/flooding parts of this land are under water…

The 88 page document that likely requires legal counsel to fully understand makes many significant changes to expand the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency. Examples of them are as follows:

  • The rule effectively allows for federal jurisdiction over any and all water as the word “navigable” will be eliminated from the Clean Water Act. This means that ditches, ephemeral streams, rain water puddles or low areas of pasture or farm ground, as well as storm water conveyances in urban/municipal areas are now able to be regulated by the EPA. As such, federal permits may be required for “normal” practices both on farms and in the cities.
  • The rule usurps the jurisdiction of ground water protection from state agencies because the EPA and Army Corps fail to distinguish “shallow subsurface flow” from “groundwater” thereby opening it up for federal regulation.

    As part of my Nebraska State Operating Permit from the NE Dept. Of Environmental Quality, I test the ground water under my feed yard twice a year to ensure that there is no contamination.  Ground water protection has historically been regulated by state agencies...

    As part of my Nebraska State Operating Permit from the NE Dept. Of Environmental Quality, I test the ground water under my feed yard twice a year to ensure that there is no contamination. Ground water protection has historically been regulated by state regulatory agencies…

Additionally, an “interpretive rule” that was published alongside the proposed definition by the same federal agencies devastates the collaborative relationship that farmers and ranchers have built with the Natural Resources Conversation Services (NRCS) by turning the NRCS into an arm of the EPA and converting the NRCS scientists from professional consultants/resources into EPA regulators.

Together, these rules make the EPA the land-use planning agency for the entire country.

As a CAFO, my cattle farm is already under the jurisdiction of the EPA as the farm has held an NPDES permit through the agency for more than 20 years.

As a CAFO, my cattle feed yard has held an EPA–NPDES permit for more than 20 years.  Therefore, the feed yard part of our farm was already regulated by both the EPA and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality prior to this rule change…

I have had one direct exposure to the Environmental Protection Agency in my 17 year tenure on the farm, and it was clearly the worst single episode of my professional career. With no notice, two EPA agents arrived to perform a “routine inspection” despite the fact that my state regulatory agency normally performed this task.  They entered my office flashing badges and instructing me that I would go to jail if I did not cooperate with them.  Quite frankly, they treated me like I was guilty of a crime despite the fact that I was both innocent and fully cooperative.

As we toured the feed yard, there was a complete lack of civility in their demeanor augmented by an apparent ignorance of how my farm operated.  One of the agents stated “I’ve never been this close to a cow before” and mistook the dirt mounds of my cattle pens for manure.  They were clearly well versed in the words that appeared on my NPDES permit, but failed to have the basic knowledge of a feed yard in order to understand how those words were practically implemented to protect the environment.

Years later, as I have analyzed this experience as well as the continual political power-play in Washington DC, I have come to realize that sometimes the goal isn’t necessarily effective environmental protection, but rather a myth based power play perpetuated by a vocal minority to increase federal government control over the American people.

familypictureblkwhite.jpgI worry that it isn’t about the environment. Rather, it is about continually expanding federal government control into the grassroots areas of our country.

Preserving our Natural Resources is such an important task — Each one of us yearns to enjoy in our beautiful legacy.  Let’s work together responsibly to protect the Earth.  It is too much of a treasure to be used in political games.  The EPA and the Army Corps need to Ditch this Rule as it belittles the cornerstones of our country to egregiously expand federal government powers under the myth of environmental protection.

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Filed under Environmental Stewardship, Farming, General

Did You Know?

  • Did you know that every animal is inspected by a USDA employee before it is cleared for harvest?
  • Did you know that FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) inspects all carcasses during the harvest process to ensure that your beef is safe?
  • Did you know that federal law states that meat can not be shipped or sold without the USDA inspection seal that is given once the above two things have happened?
  • Did you know that this week the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, threatened to furlough USDA and FSIS employees for at least two weeks beginning March 1st which would effectively shut down meat production in the United States?
  • I can tell you that knowing the answer to all of these questions has led me to several sleepless nights this week.  Yesterday afternoon, I decided to write the Secretary a letter which is listed below.  If you are compelled to contact the Secretary, you can send him an email at: Tom.Vilsack@usda.govDSC03744

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 I write to you today with a heavy heart.  I am saddened, I am ashamed, and I am angry.  I feel all of these emotions because of your threatening words regarding a forthcoming furlough of FSIS employees.  As you know, that furlough would shut down the 6290 packing plants and processing facilities across the United States because it is illegal to slaughter and ship meat without the USDA inspection seal.

 Not only would this furlough directly affect the thousands of employees of those packing and processing facilities, but it would also affect every farmer in the nation and the millions of consumers that purchase the products that we work so hard to grow.

 My husband and I own and operate a diversified farm in Dawson   County, Nebraska.  We raise both crops and cattle using a combination of traditional and organic farming practices.  Our livelihood revolves around food animal production, and we have spent the last two decades tirelessly working to build a viable farming business.  This business becomes non-viable if animals cannot be slaughtered for meat production purposes.  Even the 2 week shutdown that you threaten will cause great hardship to us.

 Whether your threatening words are signs of a new reality or simply an attempt to play politically motivated games with Congress, they negatively affect our family farming business.  Scare tactics that involve the production of food are simply irresponsible and I am gravely disappointed in your behavior.  I believe that it is your job as the Secretary of Agriculture to calmly lead our nation’s food growers and aid them in their vital task of feeding their fellow countrymen. 

 Forgive me, sir, but it certainly appears to me that you are being severely derelict in your duties.  As I watch from Nebraska, the livelihood of my farming business is being jeopardized in the name of politics.  You, President Obama, and the rest of the administration are threatening the food and fiber of our country with your actions.  I would like to take a minute to remind you that you are tampering with both my livelihood and our country’s food security.

 In the coming weeks, I sincerely hope that you will designate FSIS inspectors as “essential personnel” and exempt them from the furlough.  Additionally, I pray that you will discontinue engaging in scare tactics that negatively affect farmers like me who work so diligently to raise safe and healthy food.

 I invite you to take some time to visit my blog site so that you can learn more about two of the many farmers that rely on you for leadership and support.  You can access my blog site at http://www.feedyardfoodie.com/.

 

Sincerely,

 Anne Burkholder

Cozad, Nebraska

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Filed under Farming, General