Current Edition

current edition

       This past week a news story came out via the Associated Press addressing the bison in Yellowstone Park and the odds of brucellosis transmission to cattle. I know that most of the story has greater impact for Montana, but it proves just how arrogant the public has become as it relates to agriculture. It also goes to show how some take agriculture for granted.
    The study was done by an assistant professor from the University of California at Santa Cruz and was funded by the Wilburforce Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The study was co-authored by someone from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and another person from the Consortium for Conservation Medicine. That group is a new one on me, but I’ll bet all three of the authors like bison way more than cattle. I’m also betting they all eat a lot of broccoli.
    The study was run on computer models that indicate the bison population growth over time leads to a higher probability of disease transmission. That is some smart computer, isn’t it? But anyway, the study went on to say that the risk remains low even as bison numbers rise because there are fewer than 1,000 cattle in the area where bison migrate in the summer. They say around 300 cattle winter in the area where buffalo are present. So the smart way to solve the problem of transmission of brucellosis to the cows, as far as they are concerned, is to buy out the grazing rights in that area.
    I always thought that one of best reasons to cull the bison, besides getting rid of the brucellosis infected ones, was to keep the numbers down so there is enough forage for them to winter in Yellowstone. It sounds like someone wants to expand the boundary of Yellowstone. Remember, the further one gets away from Yellowstone, the more cattle there are. Bison are not a dumb animal and they may like it better north of Yellowstone than in the park, especially with all of the recent earthquakes.
    As we realize brucellosis in wildlife and bison can most likely be eradicated with the proper vaccine, we just have to make up our minds and spend the dollars to accomplish it. Eliminating cattle around the Greater Yellowstone Area is not the answer, for the world may need the protein source for food some day.
    We hope you enjoy reading the Winter Cattlemen’s Special Edition. We had a good time interviewing people and finding ads in Weston County. As with other parts of Wyoming, the pretty country is being bought up by recreationists. Luckily it’s not happening quite as rapidly as it is in some other areas. We found it to be a conservative county where a dollar is worth 100 pennies and that is how the ranch was paid for. We all could learn a lesson from these great people. Hard work is a way of life and new equipment is a state of mind.
    There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.” Weston County’s ranches, as indicated by multiple stories in the Winter Cattlemen’s Edition, were built on hard work and frugality.
       Well, most of us made it through 2008 without too many open wounds and thinking what a rollercoaster ride it was. If someone had told me in June that we would be paying $1.25 for a gallon of gas in December, I would have questioned their sanity. Realizing that we are talking about a commodity, just like livestock or meat, we never know what to expect.
    I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for an average year here in Wyoming both in terms of the weather and commodity prices. Here we are at the first of the year and none of us knows what wild swings we will meet this year. We have to stay optimistic and realize that there are opportunities in all economic conditions.
    While visiting with a rancher this morning I commented on wishing for an average year. He replied that he wasn’t sure what an average year in Wyoming looked like. Well he had me there; after thinking about it I’m not sure either, but I told him it would be a year without all of the wild swings.
    This time of the year, I always enjoy reading people’s forecasts for the New Year. Some of them in the livestock news say producers need to change parts of their operation. That may be easy for a livestock producer in Missouri with less than 100 head of cattle or sheep, but it’s darn near impossible for producers in Wyoming with large herds. This time of the year we are pretty much committed for the next six months.
    I enjoy reading the monthly BEEF Magazine. First, I like it because it is free. Second, it always has good articles and information about what is new in agriculture. In the front of the magazine there are some good quotes from some of the articles that tell the story of our industry.
    Harlan Hughes, a well respected ag columnist whom I really like, says, “knowing where you stand is the first step in managing a beef cow through tough economic times.” He has a production profile that, once filled out, should tell you where you are. One needs to know that information even in good years.
    Managing Editor Alaina Burt states, “With the green movement more fervent than ever, it’s imperative for agriculture to demonstrate how they care for the land and natural resources entrusted to them.” How right she is and this action is something we all have to do in all economic climates.
    Senior Editor Burt Rutherford tells how the key to agriculture success lies in technology. “The world population is somewhere around 6.5 billion people and is projected to grow 8.5 to 9 billion by 2050.” Each one of these humans is going to require a protein source for food and he says “that means that by the year 2050, humanity will have to produce twice as much food every year, year after year, than is currently produced.” Man, what a statement that is. How is agriculture going to accomplish that? I guess that is job security isn’t it?
    Another rule to live by — good genetics, a good health program and try not to starve a profit out of your livestock.
      We often hear the statement “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” The trouble is — we soon forget it. We seem to leave the participation part to someone else as we look upon ourselves as too busy. We tend to forget that busy people are the ones who get things done.
     I’m not saying we all need to throw our hats in the ring and run for office, but there are numerous other ways to participate in state and local government. This time of year is a good time to consider applying for a seat on local and state boards.
    On the local level, county weed and pest boards and county planning boards are great ways to help your county. On the state level, there are numerous boards on which one can serve, around 130 to be exact. Some boards have political requirements meaning there has to be a certain amount of representation from different political parties. Some boards require a set number of individuals from one party. Other boards are divided into appointment districts as set by the Legislature. These districts are divided among the counties. One member shall be appointed from each district with appointments rotating between the counties within the district. Some boards also require approval by the state senate after nomination by the governor.
    There are several boards of interest to the agricultural community. The Livestock Board is responsible for the protection of livestock interests in the state from disease and theft. The term is six years and three members must be wool growers and four members must be engaged in other livestock interests, (cattle, horses, etc.). Board members are selected from seven districts with no political split. As you can guess, this board handles some big decisions regarding brucellosis, other diseases and brands.
    The Game and Fish Commission is another board where notable decisions are made concerning wildlife with a great deal of importance to our industry. There is a political split on that board with members nominated by the governor and approved by the state senate. To do a good job on this commission I think it would take a greater amount of time and commitment than some others.
    Some boards that interest agriculture by approving state funding for grants are the Nonpoint Source Task Force and the Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund Board. By serving on either of those boards you can make a difference for water quality, wildlife and habitat.
    Other boards that might interest you — the Animal Damage Management Board, Environmental Quality Council, Outfitters and Professional Guides Board and the Oil and Gas Commission. Don’t forget about the Beef Council, which oversees management of the state beef check off. The Beef Council is looking for a person involved in the dairy business this summer. Also there is the Board of Agriculture. They’re in need of individuals from Natrona, Sweetwater, Unita and Niobrara counties.
    It is best to apply in January. Send your applications to Patty Burns, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in the Governor’s Office.
Good luck and Happy New Year!
       Starting the last week of October, the Roundup crew is gearing up for a busy 45 days of annual meetings and conventions around our state. Someone from the Roundup will be bringing you the latest news and reports from at least 13 events to take place within the next 45 days. These events are in addition to the normal meetings that are held around the state. Man, I hope I’m the only one who has counted the number of events…we might have a revolt around here. We have had numerous planning sessions on how to cover everything and who goes where and manages the booths. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a number of you soon in our travels. I’m just relieved gas prices are going down so travel isn’t quite so expensive.
    Starting this last week of October we are attending the Wyoming Water Association and on Nov. 1 the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming’s annual meeting, both here in Casper. November 4-6 is the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council meeting in Riverton. As always, there will be a lot of information shared at that meeting.
    The Wyoming Farm Bureau is holding their annual meeting in Sheridan Nov. 6-8. In Pinedale on Nov. 14-15 is the Strook Forum on Water Management on the Upper Green River. Water storage issues, among other things, will be discussed at what should be a very interesting meeting.
    Nov. 18-20 in Gillette is the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting where one can learn a lot, but also have a great time. Also taking place Nov. 18-20 is the Wyoming Section of the Society for Range Management and Soil and Water Conservation Society joint convention in Cheyenne. If you have never attended their meeting, it is well worth taking the time. It’s a chance to learn about range and grazing issues, plus they’re a fun gathering.
    In Casper on Nov. 20-21 the Wyoming Heritage Foundation’s Wyoming Forum on Climate Change Politics and Economic Realities will take place. Their forums are always worth the trip to Casper. A first time event in Casper, the Wyoming AgXpo is on Nov. 20-23. There will be livestock shows, horse training clinics, a youth talent show, a trade show, ag seminars and a youth judging clinic. The AIM conference, the commercial wind power generation and the small farm and ranch power presentations are also taking place. There is also some entertainment and it is held at the same time as the Wyoming Women in Ag Symposium, which guarantees it to be really fun and educational.
    Nov. 21-23 the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Convention will be held in Cheyenne. The last big event before Christmas is the Wyoming Stock Growers and Wyoming Wool Growers associations’ Winter Convention in Casper Dec. 7-10. This event has numerous speakers talking on the latest ag and livestock issues along with some good times in the evenings.
    We are really lucky in Wyoming to have all of these opportunities to educate ourselves on the top ag and livestock issues, meet new friends and visit with old ones. It’s also a chance to support our industry and agricultural organizations. I have always viewed these November and December meeting as a fun time and a great chance to learn.
Wishing you safe travels.  Dennis