Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Schwarzenegger wrangles with feds on drought relief

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking the Obama administration to reconsider its denial of a federal disaster declaration for drought-stricken California.

Schwarzenegger requested the declaration in mid-June. The feds denied it last month, saying the state could handle its own drought-induced social impacts. The governor argues that California's budget-balancing cuts, combined with ongoing wildfire response, have the state strapped.

From Arnold's public statement:

"The ongoing drought in California’s Central Valley is truly an emergency. We are doing all we can to find a long-term solution to the state’s water needs, but the impacts of the current drought will not wait for the legislature to act. Sadly, people are going without basic necessities right now. The federal government needs to step up and show it can still work for the people when they need it most."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Water, water everywhere ...

Discussion of water and delta issues is escalating this week at the Capitol. In two more joint hearings — following one last week — the Senate and Assembly water committees will continue mulling a five-bill water planned pushed by Democrats.

The committees meet Tuesday to discuss three bills dealing with management and governance of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and again Thursday for two bills addressing water rights and efficiency. 

On Wednesday, the Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability will hold an informational hearing on water-infrastructure financing. 

The Democrats have left infrastructure funding out of the current package. They've focused instead on governance, saying a restructuring of the chaotic system by which the delta is currently managed must come first.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto any package that lacks a funding proposal, saying he wants a bond of about $10 billion. Various bond bills in that range have been proposed this year by Republicans and Democrats. But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) now says that level of funding is too much for the state's weak fiscal condition.

The bills are slated for consideration by a conference committee before the legislature adjourns in mid-September.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Carry the Capital Press with you

The Capital Press now has web pages designed for mobile devices.

You can now access agriculture news on the road from your cell phone or other mobile device. You can get the latest headlines in your pickup, tractor, or coffee shop online at www.capitalpress.com/mobile or at m.capitalpress.com.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jon Voight: "Obama creating a civil war"

Jennifer Harper writes in the Washington Times' Inside the Beltway that actor Jon Voight has had some choice words for the Obama administration.

"We are witnessing a slow, steady takeover of our true freedoms. We are becoming a socialist nation, and whoever can't see this is probably hoping it isn't true. If we permit Mr. Obama to take over all our industries, if we permit him to raise our taxes to support unconstitutional causes, then we will be in default. This great America will become a paralyzed nation."

There's more.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

PLF calls for 'God Squad'

The Pacific Legal Foundation has thrust the idea of a "God Squad" back into circulation. PLF sent a petition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week urging him to ask the Obama administration to lift Endangered Species Act protections from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Under federal law, the president could accomplish this by convening an Endangered Species Committee, better known as a God Squad. It's a panel of cabinet-level officials who can override the ESA if circumstances appear to warrant it.

PLF, and the 12,000 people who signed the petition, say circumstances more than warrant it, with thousands of jobs lost and acres fallowed because of drought. 

Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who introduced one of the five water bills now under consideration in the Capitol, has taken a leadership role on delta management. At a committee hearing on Tuesday, he offered this perspective:

"For those in the water-export community who believe that the world would be a better place if we just eliminated the Endangered Species Act and returned to the good old days of unimpeded pumping, I want to promise you that that will never happen. The federal courts are in control of our pumps. They will not loosen that hold until we come to grips with the fact that our existing water-delivery system is a killing machine that has to be unplugged."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some clarity on health care reform

The Washington Times provides it this morning.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TANC: Gone, but not forgotten

The TANC transmission project may be dead, but former Capital Press freelance writer Dylan Darling has a story this morning analyzing the map of another line envisioned to run from Oregon to Tracy, Calif.

The transmission system, which could be partly owned by PG&E, is still barely in the pencil-on-paper stages. But it appears that it would run through the Northern California community of Round Mountain, which was a hotbed of opposition to the TANC project.

TANC opponents and California Farm Bureau Federation representatives said they didn't think TANC's demise would signal the end of all such power line proposals, and it looks like they were right.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The definition of political correctness

From Michael Ledeen at NRO's The Corner:

A friend e-mails to say that Texas A & M has an annual contest for the best definition of a contemporary expression. This year it was "political correctness." And here's the winner:

Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

FB hero to do FB convention

From the American Farm Bureau Federation:

Gridiron Great Terry Bradshaw to Address Farm Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 7, 2009 – Terry Bradshaw, four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, two-time Super Bowl “Most Valuable Player” and Pro Football Hall of Fame member, will deliver the keynote address at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 91st annual meeting on Jan. 11, 2010, in Seattle, Wash.

More than 5,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation will gather in Seattle Jan. 10-13 to not only hear a great speaker, but also learn more about the forces shaping agriculture today and participate in a grassroots policy setting process that will guide the American Farm Bureau through 2010.

A truly “larger-than-life” personality known for his energy, zeal and enthusiasm, Bradshaw is renowned for his professional accomplishments in NFL football and sports broadcasting, in addition to achieving acclaim as an inspirational speaker, actor, author and gospel/country singer. Bradshaw also owns an 800-acre ranch in Texas where he raises cattle and breeds horses.

“Terry Bradshaw is an All-American icon, recognized for his accomplishments both on and off the field,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a Columbus, Texas, rice and cattle producer. “But his road to success was not always easy. Along the way, he battled and overcame significant obstacles that many people from all walks of life – including farmers and ranchers – can relate to, including disappointment, adversity, and relentless competition.”

In his presentations, Bradshaw takes a close look at what makes people successful and encourages audiences to think in new ways about sacrifice, pain, competition, and hardship. He also shares with audiences his strategies for maintaining success through persistent self-improvement, in addition to providing specific examples of how to focus the power of dreaming, thinking, and strategizing to reach goals.

The only NFL player with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 6’3” Bradshaw was the first player chosen in the 1970 draft and became one of the most prolific quarterbacks in history. He was the first quarterback to win four Super Bowl championships (1975, 1976, 1979 and 1980), a feat that has been duplicated only once, 10 years later, by Joe Montana. Bradshaw holds the Super Bowl passing records for average gain per attempt in career (11.10 yards) and average gain in a game (14.71 yards in Super Bowl XIV). He was also a four-time All-Pro. He retired from the NFL prior to the 1984 season.

A native of Shreveport, La., Bradshaw attended college at Louisiana Tech, where he still holds the single-season passing and total offense records. He was a first-team Associated Press All-America as a senior in 1970 and later that year received a bachelor’s in physical education from Louisiana Tech. He currently resides in Texas.

The meeting begins Sunday morning, Jan. 10 with the opening presidential address by Stallman. The annual Young Farmer and Rancher competitions, scheduled for Jan. 10 and Monday, Jan. 11, are just one of the highlights on the agenda. Another important feature on Sunday is the annual Farm Bureau Women’s luncheon and business session, which is open to all women attendees but advance purchase tickets are required to attend.

Farm Bureau members can register for the 91st AFBF convention through their state Farm Bureaus.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another poll casts doubt on global warming

Reporter Jennifer Robison of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has found that the political environment is getting less friendly for proposed policies aimed at curbing so-called global warming.

As evidence, she points to a series of Gallup surveys.

Here's what Gallup found: The number of Americans who say the media have exaggerated global warming jumped to a record 41 percent in 2009, up from 35 percent a year ago. The most marked increase came among political independents, whose ranks of doubters swelled from 33 percent to 44 percent. Republican doubters grew from 59 percent to 66 percent, while Democratic skeptics stayed at around 20 percent.

What's more, fewer Americans believe the effects of global warming have started to occur: 53 percent see signs of a hotter planet, down from 61 percent in 2008. Global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.

Another recent Gallup study found that, for the first time in 25 years of polling, more Americans care about economic growth than the environment. Just 42 percent of people surveyed said the environment takes precedence over growth, while 51 percent asserted expansion carries more weight. That reverses results from 2008, when 49 percent of respondents said the environment was paramount and 42 percent said economic growth came first. In 1985, the poll's first year, 61 percent placed a bigger priority on the environment, while 28 percent ranked economic growth highest.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Legislative counsel: Arnold's vetoes illegal

At the request of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), California's Legislative Counsel Bureau on Wednesday released an opinion that says Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget vetoes are largely illegal.

The argument: The vetoes do not strike new spending, instead making additional cuts to programs that the governor had already enacted when he signed the state budget early this year. Schwarzenegger's constitutional veto power allows striking new spending provisions from legislation, not revisions to expenditures already approved.

In a departure from the norm, this year's budget was both extremely late (it missed its deadline of July 2008) and extremely early (it was a two-year budget, thus it preceded this year's July deadline). So instead of revising the governor's proposed budget — as would be the case in a normal year — this year's spring-revise process made adjustments to a budget that had already been enacted.

For that reason, legislators say, the vetoes are illegal. The opinion is non-binding, and lawmakers won't file suit to repeal the vetoes, says Assemblyman John Perez (D-Los Angeles). But interest groups may well do so.

Legislators could still override the vetoes, although Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) has said he would continue working with the governor's office on a compromise.

Stay tuned on how this may affect the veto of greatest concern to ag interests: the governor's suspension of Williamson Act funding.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Estate tax "a sad song" for family farms

Iowa manufacturer Eugene Sukup writes for McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (via the California Farm Bureau Federation's Ag Alert):

The recent deaths of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays and Ed McMahon have many Americans thinking about mortality. If you're a business owner of a certain age, as I am, it's something you think about daily.

Unlike television personalities and performing artists, most business owners labor in relative obscurity. Our legacy, when we pass, is what we've built and perhaps invented—in my case, agricultural equipment most Americans have never heard of—and the hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who depend on us for jobs.

We're unlike television personalities and recording artists in another important respect as well: When we die, the government may lay claim to half or more of our business.

Not directly, but through tax policy.

He continues:

My sons are both active in the business. But they know that when my wife, Mary, and I pass, the estate tax will be so severe—estimated at $15 million to $20 million at today's tax rate—the business may have to be sold. [ ... ]

If Sukup Manufacturing is fortunate enough to survive our deaths, the government will claim an additional 45 percent when our sons die (more, if Congress raises the tax rate, or allows it to increase automatically to 55 percent, as it will in 2011 under current law).

And when their children die it will take another bite until the business finally collapses or some future generation says, "We've had enough."

And all for nothing. According to a recent study by economist Stephen Entin for the American Family Business Foundation, of which I am a member, the economic damage the estate tax does to businesses such as ours—and to the economy as a whole—reduces total tax revenues by more than the estate tax brings in to the Treasury.

The music of Michael Jackson will live on, like Elvis' before him. But our business may not survive our deaths.

Read the entire commentary here.

Beef industry update

From the California Cattlemen's Association:

Cattle Fax Weekly Market Highlight

July 31, 2009

The fed cattle market was basically $1 lower this week. In the South, sales were primarily at $82, while the cattle in the North fetched $131 to $132 dressed. Boxed beef prices were steady to modestly lower as the prospect of larger slaughters kept a lid on buyer interest. Sales volumes on that side were moderate at best. Feeder cattle prices were $1 to $2.00 lower, while calves were $1 to $3.00 higher. More yearlings are being offered off grass, slowing demand in many cases for heavier weight cattle. Slaughter cows were mostly $1 to $2.00 higher. Corn prices traded in a volatile fashion on the week, as traders were torn between the prospects of a large crop and at the same time increased financial market strength and demand for grains going to export markets.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Is your bookmark up to date?

If you stumbled on this post because you were trying to find the Capital Press website and thought it had disappeared, fear not. The Capital Press website is alive and well, but it may not be where you thought it was.

The main website address, or URL, for the Capital Press is www.capitalpress.com. We have it printed in the paper, on bumper stickers, on the sides and/or backs of company vehicles. It's a well-traveled domain name. However, it appears there may be lots of people out there who have a different address — www.capitalpress.info — bookmarked. We've also seen numerous websites that also link to pages with that root URL.

That's completely understandable, albeit disappointing given the effort we've made to publicize the .com address. The capitalpress.info address was the original website address for the Capital Press website. We changed it, or tried to change it, a few years back. But if people held on to the old domain it was no big deal because the dot-info address still worked. It just redirected folks to, or mirrored, the .com website. One site, two addresses.

But, after the launch of the new Capital Press website over the weekend, we had a situation for a while where the dot-info address was pointed to the old website, which was no longer being updated, instead of the new, revamped website. So, we got that stopped and the old website is no longer live, but we have not yet got the old dot-info address pointed to the new, correct and updated site.

As of this writing, if you type in the www.capitalpress.info address (or use a bookmark with that address or follow a link that uses that address) you are likely getting an error that says: "Bad Request (Invalid Host Name)".

We are working on redirecting the dot-info address to the new www.capitalpress.com server. As soon as is humanly and technically possible, we will get that switched over. But if you want to do yourself, and us, a favor, just point your browser to capitalpress.com. That will get you to the new website now.

Sorry about the glitch folks. It was one of the many unintended pitfalls we've encountered in our website update, but it may be one of the biggest roadblocks to longtime, loyal website readers finding us. We have seen website traffic drop by about one-third or more since the conversion. The misdirected domain name and broken dot-info links seem the most likely cause. However, we are also likely missing out on some visitors because our RSS feed has changed too and as a result our headlines aren't feeding into our Twitter account via Twitterfeed right now either. There some sort of coding glitch that keeps Twitterfeed from telling there are new headlines in the RSS feed we are trying to make it munch on. And if you have an RSS feed reading into Google or Newsgator or some other RSS aggregator that link has been severed too.

If you do use an RSS aggregator or widget of some sort, I have some good news for you. We have multiple RSS feeds now, so you can get even more focused feeds. We have not yet put together a fill list of our RSS feeds because we may still want to add more of them. But you can find several links to the new RSS feeds on some of the popular sections of our website, like our Oregon/Washington, California, Idaho and Livestock section. You can also find the link to RSS for the part of our site that always includes our most recently posted stories. Even our Calendar is RSS enabled.

We are still online. We are still here. Here just may not be where you though it was, or where it once was, or will be once again when we get all the right servers and routers talking to one another.

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