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A week ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Spring Legislative Conference. Also in town were members of the American Sheep Industry Association for their legislative conference. Members from all three associations provided plenty of hats at our nation’s Capital and around town. Public lands ranchers and sheep and cattle producers from across the nation were welcomed, listened to and consulted on various issues in a great turnaround from the last eight years.

We heard from Cabinet secretaries, White House appointees, trade officials and Congressional members. They all commented, “You are going to like what you hear,” and we did. President Trump has been in office less than 100 days, but the President and Congress have replaced numerous regulations and laws that hurt agriculture, especially in the West.

The afternoon I flew in, the President was signing a Congressional Review Act Resolution disapproving of and rescinding the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 rule. In attendance were sponsors Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Congressman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), along with Commissioner and National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region President Joel Bousman, who is also a public lands rancher from Sublette County, along with other dignitaries. At the end of the ceremony, President Trump walked out with Joel’s black hat. It will be interesting to see where that hat turns up in the future.

We heard the new Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speak with a lot of confidence and authority to the roomful of public lands ranchers, saying, “The farther we get out of D.C., there’s a breach in trust, and there’s a breach in the expectation of the heavy-handedness of Department of Interior.” Speaking on our National Parks, he cited the Theodore Roosevelt Arch at the entrance of Yellowstone National Park, which is inscribed with the phase, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” He went on to say, “We’ve lost that, but were going back to it.” He said, “We work for the people, and that’s the way it was intended.” It’s been a long time since we’ve heard comments like those.

We heard from the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney General from Oklahoma. At the end of his talk, he received a standing ovation, so we liked what we heard from him.

For the first time in eight years, there is a person representing agriculture on the President’s Economic Advisory Council. He said, “The best way for those in agriculture to survive is to make money ranching and farming.” We agreed with that.

A number of us in agriculture have been concerned about President Trump and his methods of dealing with trade. We heard from some of his trade appointees, and it sounds like there will be bilateral trade agreements instead of multilateral trade agreements. That is, the U.S. and one other country will strike a deal. We hope it works. Agriculture has to have trade to survive, and America has to have a fair deal. We wish the President good luck.

We’ve all had some concerns of the President’s appointments, and of the many we listened to, we were encouraged greatly. Interior Secretary Zinke said we would like whom he selects as BLM Director, and names of those with connections to Wyoming were heard around town for BLM and other agencies.

Some may not be in favor of the President’s way of leading, but one in agriculture cannot dislike his and Congress’ results.

 

     We at the Roundup hope you all had a blessed Christmas season at your house. Some of us got nailed by the wintery weather on Christmas Day, but it is a new year, and we wish you, your family and your businesses all the best for the New Year.

At times, we think we have seen it all coming out of Washington, D.C., but in the last year or so, a new regulation has surfaced that will really hinder the interstate transportation of livestock.

If you have ever driven Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming with border-to-border truck traffic, one sees the need for some control of all the trucks, but the government has gone too far, and this new rule will hurt those who raise or handle livestock.

A rule that was developed by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration in late 2015 is supposed to go into effect Dec. 18, 2017. The rule says that all trucks in interstate commerce that are model year 2000 and newer are mandated to use electronic logbooks, and of course, the devil’s in the details.

The final rule does not change federal hours of service requirements. Drivers required to maintain federal records of duty status must convert from paper logs to electronic logging devices. These electronic logging devices are foolproof and by the book. They can control the truck’s speed and shut down the motor after the allotted hours of the truck running, and it doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of the Red Desert or in a Walmart parking lot. These logging devices are guided by satellite, so one cannot hide. They are also tamper-proof.

So, the problem for livestock haulers is that they may pick up a load of calves, say in the middle of the Red Desert in a location that took two hours to get to. Then, they may have left the truck running while waiting to load before returning back to the highway. The trucker stops at a truck stop to eat lunch, with the motor running, and then heads on to Garden City, Kans. to deliver the calves.

Under the new rules, the electronic logging device would shut the motor off just hours from Garden City, Kans., as the truck’s motor had run the allotted hours.

Under the new rules, it doesn’t matter if the truck’s wheels have moved or not. If the motor was running, the clock was running. Just think what would happen in cold weather.

Even if one wants to unload the livestock and shut the truck down to meet the rule’s requirements, the infrastructure is just not out there along the highways to do so. Livestock producers will have to find buyers closer to home, and with the fewer packinghouses, how are we supposed to get fat cattle or lambs to the packinghouse? I can’t imagine how rodeo stock producers are going to get to all the rodeos they need to.

I hear that the oil and gas industry has exemptions for off-the-clock waiting time. The livestock haulers need that and longer times without rest – or just exemptions from the rules. There is a lot of difference between a load of calves, lambs or rodeo stock and a truckload of Pampers. All are important, but some need to eat and drink while we sleep.

     We at the Roundup hope you all had a blessed Christmas season at your house. Some of us got nailed by the wintery weather on Christmas Day, but it is a new year, and we wish you, your family and your businesses all the best for the New Year.

At times, we think we have seen it all coming out of Washington, D.C., but in the last year or so, a new regulation has surfaced that will really hinder the interstate transportation of livestock.

If you have ever driven Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming with border-to-border truck traffic, one sees the need for some control of all the trucks, but the government has gone too far, and this new rule will hurt those who raise or handle livestock.

A rule that was developed by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration in late 2015 is supposed to go into effect Dec. 18, 2017. The rule says that all trucks in interstate commerce that are model year 2000 and newer are mandated to use electronic logbooks, and of course, the devil’s in the details.

The final rule does not change federal hours of service requirements. Drivers required to maintain federal records of duty status must convert from paper logs to electronic logging devices. These electronic logging devices are foolproof and by the book. They can control the truck’s speed and shut down the motor after the allotted hours of the truck running, and it doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of the Red Desert or in a Walmart parking lot. These logging devices are guided by satellite, so one cannot hide. They are also tamper-proof.

So, the problem for livestock haulers is that they may pick up a load of calves, say in the middle of the Red Desert in a location that took two hours to get to. Then, they may have left the truck running while waiting to load before returning back to the highway. The trucker stops at a truck stop to eat lunch, with the motor running, and then heads on to Garden City, Kans. to deliver the calves.

Under the new rules, the electronic logging device would shut the motor off just hours from Garden City, Kans., as the truck’s motor had run the allotted hours.

Under the new rules, it doesn’t matter if the truck’s wheels have moved or not. If the motor was running, the clock was running. Just think what would happen in cold weather.

Even if one wants to unload the livestock and shut the truck down to meet the rule’s requirements, the infrastructure is just not out there along the highways to do so. Livestock producers will have to find buyers closer to home, and with the fewer packinghouses, how are we supposed to get fat cattle or lambs to the packinghouse? I can’t imagine how rodeo stock producers are going to get to all the rodeos they need to.

I hear that the oil and gas industry has exemptions for off-the-clock waiting time. The livestock haulers need that and longer times without rest – or just exemptions from the rules. There is a lot of difference between a load of calves, lambs or rodeo stock and a truckload of Pampers. All are important, but some need to eat and drink while we sleep.

Well, it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were wishing all of you Happy New Year for 2016. They say time goes faster as one gets older. I think it is true. But anyway, there is going to be a new year, and most of those in agriculture are optimistic.

After the elections, there was a renewed optimism in agriculture. For cattle producers, part of the optimism was due to the increase in the price of calves and the cattle futures turning around some. For those in agriculture, especially in the West, there was joy over the election. It has been a long time since there was much good news out of Washington, D.C. Come to think about it, ranchers and farmers from the West, and even their Congressional members and staff, haven’t been treated with much respect in the last eight years. Government overreach was alive and well in the West.

But hopefully that is behind us to where at least we can have sensible discussions with those in our nation’s capital who are running the government in the executive branch. After all, we’re Americans, too. The West has to be more than just a playground for the rest of the nation.

We all have to realize that just a new administration is not going to solve our issues. They are just the start. The number of us in agriculture is shrinking, they say, so we have to work harder to help feed the growing populations of our world. To accomplish that, we have to be strong politically and strong in our livestock, farm and ranching organizations. We have to be even stronger in the organizations that assist us and represent us with public lands, both state-wide and nationally.

As producers – and even those who represent us at the state level – we are not able to be at all the national or regional meetings or to lobby for us where we need representation. We need a strong Public Lands Council in Washington, D.C. and a viable Wyoming Public Lands Coalition here in our own state. That means that public lands grazers need to pay their annual assessment. If you haven’t already paid your assessment, the letter and information is around your house somewhere. If you have paid, thank you.

In past years, not even 20 percent of the Wyoming public land ranchers have paid their assessment. That is a travesty. A new administration will not stop the radical groups from filing lawsuits. That’s how many of those groups are funded. It takes money from us producers to allow our state and national public land organizations to fight those legal actions. We can’t just stand by and let 20 percent pay the bill.

We are well represented on the national Public Land Council Board. Keith Hamilton, a rancher from Hyattville is the Wyoming Board member, and Niels Hansen, a rancher from southwest of Rawlins is the Treasurer on the Public Lands Council. We can’t not support them.      

So now we’re coming to a New Year. One always has to believe it will be better than the last year for our families and us. Winter has reminded some of us this really is Wyoming, after the great fall weather we had, but with God’s grace and a little help from Washington, D.C., next year will be good for us.

From all of us at the Roundup, have a great and prosperous New Year.