Written by Darla Shumway
Montana Farmers Union president Alan Merrill issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 2642 -(with a vote of 68-32) the Agricultural Act of 201-:
“Montana’s family farmers and ranchers can get on with their chosen work of feeding and clothing our nation without the uncertainty of what legislation Congress might enact. A five-year farm bill has been passed that includes an adequate safety net for producers and needy Americans as well as programmatic reforms.”
They were particularly pleased that numerous of MFU’s legislative priorities were included in the final bill including:
•Livestock disaster programs that are retroactive to fiscal year 2012;
•Strong conservation programs including CRP, CSP and others;
•Mandatory funding for energy title programs;
•Funding for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program;
•No change to the COOL statute and GIPSA reforms were retained.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 15:46
Written by The Herald-News
“Oh, by gosh, by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly. Tasty pheasants, Christmas presents, countrysides covered in snow.”
As exemplified by this holiday hit by Henry Sani
cola, Frank Sinatra and Dok Stanford, holly and mistletoe are an integral part of holiday imagery and tradition. Holly is used to adorn a home in green and red finery alongside evergreen boughs and wreaths. In addition, it has become customary to hang a bouquet of mistletoe under which people are encouraged to share a holiday kiss. While these elements of celebrations are now incorporated into many of the secular and religious components of Christmas, they have very different origins.
Holly has been used since the days of the early Pagans as a decoration for midwinter festivities, when it was brought into homes to keep evil spirits away. The ancient Romans also believed that holly prickles drove away evil spirits, and it held a place of honor at December festivals dedicated to the god Saturn. To avoid persecution during the Roman pagan Saturnalia festival, early Christians would participate in the tradition of hanging evil-repelling holly on their homes to appear like the masses. Eventually as the number of Christians grew, the tradition became less of a pagan one and more associated with Christians and Christmas. Some people have inferred that holly and its prickly edges is symbolic of the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, with the red berries representing blood.
Mistletoe was once held sacred by the Norse, Celtic Druids and North American Indians. It is actually a parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees. Heavy infestation scan dwarf the growth and kill these trees. In cultures across pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence (and thus romance, fertility and vitality). The plant also was thought to be a symbol of peace, and anyone standing below it should receive tokens of affection. When enemies met beneath mistletoe, they had to lay down their weapons and observe a truce until the next day. This is how the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe likely began, and why a ball of mistletoe is now hung in homes during Christmas, a season of peace and affection.
Homeowners who hang mistletoe and holly around their homes during the holiday season should be mindful of pets and youngsters around the plants. Mistletoe and holly are considered to be moderately to severely toxic, and ingesting the leaves could be dangerous. Therefore, keep these plants away from curious hands. Mistletoe is commonly hung up high, which should make it less problematic, but holly should be hung high as well.
Now largely associated with Christmas celebrations, holly and mistletoe were once part of pagan rituals and ancient superstitions.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 09:36
Written by The Herald-News
With many hunters looking back on a successful big game hunting season, it's a good time to remind hunters about the responsibility to ensure that their wild game is properly cared for and processed.
Under Montana law, it is illegal to waste any part of a game animal that is defined as "suitable for food." For big game animals, all four quarters above the hock, including loin and backstrap, fall into that category.
Hunters who can't use the wild game meat can donate it to a neighbor or friend who would appreciate it or to a local food bank.
Anyone with information about the wanton waste of wild game should call FWP's toll-free TIP-MONT hotline, 800-TIP-MONT.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 08:55
Written by The Herald-News
Senator Jon Tester is telling the Food and Drug Administration to change course and properly implement his 2011 law to protect small family farmers and producers from new federal food safety requirements they don’t need and can’t afford.
Tester included a critical amendment in 2011’s Food Safety Modernization Act that protects smaller farmers and producers from onerous federal regulations if they sell the majority of their food locally to consumers and have less than $500,000 in gross annual sales.
The FDA recently began to implement Tester’s amendment, but the proposed drafts of the agency’s new rules could actually force smaller producers to deal with the same food safety requirements as big corporations that sell food nationwide.
“Small growers and producers selling straight to local consumers don’t require the same regulations that large producers do, and Congress passed a law making that clear,” said Tester, a family-scale grain farmer. “It’s outrageous for the FDA to ignore my common-sense law. The agency needs to change course before they hurt the livelihoods and jobs of Montana’s family farmers and producers.”
Unless changed, the proposed FDA rules could force smaller producers to conduct the same water quality tests as large producers, prevent small farmers from selling their products at farmers markets and treat groups of small farms like large corporations, among other provisions.
“We need more small farms and facilities, not fewer, and these proposed rules must not stymie local economic growth,” Tester said in a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “I urge you to rectify the rules to ensure that small farms, farmers’ markets and local cooperatives are able to thrive while protecting food safety from the biggest threats.”
Tester this week also met with FDA deputy commissioner Mike Taylor to share his concerns about the rules in person. Taylor told Tester he would take a close look at the proposed regulations.
Under Tester’s law, family farmers and smaller producers would continue to be overseen by local and state food safety and health agencies. In 2007, less than 4 percent of Montana farms had sales higher than $500,000.
Tester this week also called on the U.S. Agriculture Department to back off new poultry and meat processing rules that help the world’s largest meatpacking companies at the expense of smaller processing facilities and local food producers.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:16
Written by The Herald-News
A draft report the Environmental Protection Agency has released that erases the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act should be of grave concern to farmers and ranchers, according to the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. The draft report provides no scientific support to make distinctions between significant and insignificant connections of streams and wetlands to downstream water.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and 35 other organizations recently submitted comments to the agency expressing their concern.
“Merely because a connection can be identified does not mean it is significant to downstream water quality or ecosystem health,” wrote the groups, which identified themselves as the Waters Advocacy Coalition.
The report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, also lacks the identification of any method, formula or standard for determining if a connection significantly influences the integrity of downstream waters.
“It’s a serious concern that the EPA is claiming all waters are connected and therefore, they need to have the ability to regulate them all,” says John Youngberg, vice president of governmental relations, MFBF. “They are claiming that just because a bird waters in your farm pond, stops to get a worm out of someone’s driveway puddle, then hangs out at a lake that flows to the Missouri River, they should have a say so in regulating the water in your pond. That’s preposterous.”
The report makes sweeping assertions that all connections are equal, regardless of the kind, size, or frequency. It does not “account for site specificity, regional variability or temporal variability” or address whether these factors of variability have any relevance on the effect of the connection on the integrity of downstream waters.
“Perhaps most importantly, the synthesis report totally fails to explain which types of connections or how many connections of what frequency, magnitude, and duration are needed to significantly affect the flow, ecology and water quality of downstream waters,” the groups said.
The groups noted that previous Supreme Court rulings have clarified that to regulate additional water bodies, EPA must show a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has examined the meaning of the scope of ‘navigable waters’ under the CWA three times,” the groups said.
The coalition also took issue with EPA’s approach to the rulemaking, saying that the agency should have held off on sending its proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget until after the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board had reviewed the report on which the rule relies.
Youngberg expressed concern that if the EPA succeeds in getting authority over all water, it could lead to lawsuits from environmental and citizen groups for even simple activities used in growing crops, such as spreading manure on the land or applying crop protectants even when the activities have no affect on waterways.
“Once again, the EPA is determined to overstep its boundaries and work hard to regulate our country’s farmers and ranchers out of business,” Youngberg concluded.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:15