Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FAA High School Red Bluff in Fundraiser at Bull & Gelding Sale.

Shelby (right) , a sophomore at Red Bluff High makes a big sale of raffle tickets to Jon Smith, who is visiting the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale for the first time with his fiance, Jennifer Gardner.

Army Mechanic support local FFA buying arms length of raffle tickets.
Jon is a mechanic with the U.S. army who just returned from Iraq and will soon be stationed in Afghanistan. His fiance Jennifer (left) and he have set a date to be married in September.

Jon bought a double arm's length of raffle tickets...39 purchases supporting local FFA in their effort to travel to the State FFA Conference in Fresno.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some things are changing in Washington

If the transfer of presidential power seems chaotic to me, I can only imagine what's going on backstage in Washington, D.C.

From watching President Barack Obama's first week in office on television, the transition would seem to be smooth and largely ceremonial.

Not so if you're actually trying to do some reporting that relates to the federal government.
I'm sure the process repeats itself every time there's a new president, but this is the first time I've had to deal with the federal bureaucracy during such a change.

Last week, I was working on an article about the proposed dam removal along the Klamath River, in which the Interior Dept. is involved.

The problem was, all the old hands who were familiar with the Klamath saga were gone, and the new folks were probably still figuring out where to hang their coats and how to get to the bathroom.

As for the lower-level bureaucrats who deal with the issues on a day-to-day basis, regardless of the administration, the situation wasn't much better.

They were still waiting to see what approach their new bosses would take to the problem.
Another problem came up today, when I was trying to figure out the implications of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that pertains to emissions from livestock manure.
Apart from the complexity of the regulation itself, it was unclear whether or not the rule had actually taken effect. That's because Obama suspended all pending regulations, and those that hadn't yet taken effect when he entered office.

The problem is, the rule I was writing about took effect the same day Obama was sworn in. Everybody I talked to had a differing opinion about whether or not the rule was suspended. Even the Environmental Protection Agency didn't know.

I'm sure that all this confusion will be sorted out once the dust has a chance to settle. I'm just curious to see how long that will take.

Hopefully, once it does, the new administration will be able to bring some efficiency to the public affairs process. To be honest, though, the signs so far haven't been very optimistic.

Yesterday, I called a federal agency to get some historical statistics. I got a hold of the person who handled the statistics, but she wasn't able to talk to me without permission from the agency's public affairs department. When I called the public affairs people, they weren't available to talk. By the time I got a call back three hours later, I'd found the statistics on my own.

This is a charade I've played many times during the Bush administration, and I have a feeling it's a truly non-partisan phenomenon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

BLM tries practically giving away wild horses and can't

The Bureau of Land Management put 362 wild horses up for auction over the weekend in Utah, but only 8 of them found new homes. Total revenues from the auction: $725. That's less than $91 a horse. (Read the full story from The Salt Lake Tribune here.)

So, where was the Humane Society of the United States? Why wasn't that organization there to offer salvation to the majestic mustangs with bloodlines extending back to the Spanish conquistadors?

The HSUS spends a great deal of time, energy and money telling agriculture-based businesses how they should operate and has attracted a fair amount of press in recent years with their undercover investigations. One of their current campaigns is to ask the public to urge Congress to pass the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which would restrict transportation of unwanted horses to other countries for possible slaughter to be used as food.

All horse slaughter facilities have already been closed down in this country.

If the Humane Society of the US really wants to care for horses, maybe they should invest in them. According to the organization's 2006 tax exempt filing with the IRS, it had $225 million in assets, including $127.8 million in investments in publicly traded securities and $43.6 million in savings.

The organization could have adopted the whole string of 362 horses with more than enough left over to feed them with just it's cash savings.

Heck, even Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of Humane Society of the US, might have some discretionary income out of his $207,000 salary (not counting nearly $27,000 in additional benefits) to adopt a few of the horses himself — assuming he hasn't had a raise or pay cut since 2006.

On the road this week

Volunteers Chad Heitman, left, and Blaine Ragan affix fencing for corrals to be used for the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale. Photo by Tim Hearden/Capital PressLook for representatives from the Capital Press at two big events this week.

Starting Tuesday, Jan. 27, you can find some staff members from the Capital Press in Redding, Calif., and Portland, Ore.

In Redding, we will be attending the annual Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale, which runs through Jan. 31. See reporter Tim Hearden's preview story online.

In Portland, we will have a booth at the Northwest Agriculture Show. You can find stories from our Northwest Ag Show special section on the Capital Press website too.

If you see a Capital Press booth or banner, stop in and say hello.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's official: Vilsack and Salazar head USDA, Interior as of today

In case you missed in all the hubbub of Inauguration Day, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack today as secretary of Agriculture and Ken Salazar as secretary of Interior. Click here for the story.

A quick way to find the Capital Press on Facebook

I finally figured out how to make a shortcut URL for the Capital Press page on Facebook. For some reason every time I tried to do it on my computer at work I was getting an error. Either the application was fixed, or the fact that I tried it again on my home computer with a different browser and operating system did the trick.

So if you want to check out the Capital Press page on Facebook, you can go to and see it for yourself. Feel free to bookmark it and come back and visit often. You can even become a fan if you like.

If you've been there before, I also changed the rss feed on the page to the feed from, rather than from this blog. So there will be more frequent updates of headlines on that page.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video shows some of the impacts of flooding on a Washington farm

This is the latest Capital Press video. We've got an updated version of our Brightcove video player. You can also find it on YouTube.

This one is from reporter Cookson Beecher about the effects of recent flooding on a farm in Arlington, Wash., and the efforts to recover from the damage, which forced the evacuation of livestock. Click here for more of Cookson's flood coverage.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ag secretary nominee questioned by Senate Ag Committee

Have you heard that members of Congress now have their own YouTube channels? It's true. You can watch part of President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack's testimony from earlier today on the YouTube channel by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Of course the portion in the video relates to Leahy's questions to Vilsack about organic agriculture.

See the video here (Leahy, or his staff, or Congress) disabled embedding, so I can't put it here.

C-SPAN has the whole hearing if you want to watch it (although the did not broadcast it live). Be forewarned, it's two and a half hours.

You can also watch the archived webcast from the Senate Committee Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Friday, January 09, 2009

How do you close the information divide separating print and digital products?

One of my core duties for the Capital Press is to function as our online editor. That's not my title, which is associate editor. Associate editor can mean anything, so telling people my title doesn't explain what I do. One of my assignments is to chair our staff Internet committee, which meets once a month.

The reason I bring all this stuff up, is that our next Internet committee met today. Since this was be our first meeting of 2009, the start of a new year had me wondering what's next. Or more precisely, I wonder what should be next for the Capital Press and our efforts online.

Like all media companies, we are trying to figure out how to best utilize all this technology at our disposal to the benefit of our readers. Of course we need to make enough money at all the things we do that we can afford to keep doing it. The core of what we do is print an agriculture newspaper that covers California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. We spend a fair amount of time figuring out how to do what we do and prepare for the more online dependent future.

One of the difficult parts of that is that people who love reading their news in a printed newspaper don't pay a heck of a lot of attention to websites. And young people, who have grown up in a world where their primary channels of information are computers, the Internet, cell phones and TV don't spend a lot of time reading printed news products.

I asked our Internet committee members today to each provide a list of the top 3 things our committee should do this year. Perhaps you, readers of the blogosphere, can help focus our goals for the year. What do you think are the top 3 things an agriculture newspaper should do in 2009 to serve online readers/viewers better?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Greenhouses collapse under snow and ice

Mark Rozin, photo coordinator for the Capital Press, put together a slide show today of the damage Western Oregon nursery growers have suffered from the winter storms and the weird weather that have hit the Pacific Northwest. It may be a little hard to find on our main site, so I though I would put a link here too. You can read the article here.

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

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